Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: May 2020

May 26, 2020  • Creating the Conditions for Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading is a roundup of current news and commentary on the challenges and opportunities of aligning business decisions with the long-term health of society. This month, we’re examining some of the widespread impacts of the Covid crisis as well as innovative coping strategies, speed bumps on the road to positive change, and more.

The Economy

Current Economic Issues (Jerome H. Powell, Speech Given at the Peterson Institute for International Economics) “Among people who were working in February, almost 40 percent of those in households making less than $40,000 a year had lost a job in March.”

U.S. Consumer Confidence Stabilizes; New Home Sales Surprise (Lucia Mutikani, Reuters) If nothing else, the economic indicators in this report capture how American consumers and businesses feel in a month where many states are beginning to ease this spring’s lockdown measures.

How COVID-19 Will Shape the Class of 2020 For the Rest of Their Lives (Charlotte Alter, Time Magazine) “Researchers have found that beginning a career in the teeth of a recession can depress earnings for 10 years, and trigger broader impacts for decades.”

Purpose of the Corporation

Pay Cuts Become a Tool for Some Companies to Avoid Layoffs (Nelson D. Schwartz, The New York Times) “The trend is a reversal of traditional management theory, which held that salaries were sacred and it was better to cut positions and dismiss a limited number of workers than to lower pay for everyone during downturns.”

Target Extends $2-An-Hour Coronavirus Pay Bump through July 4 (Kavita Kumar, Star Tribune) While some big retailers are pulling back on temporary pandemic pay raises, Target is extending them for the second time this year.

Worker Voice

Could the Pandemic Give America’s Labour Movement a Boost? (The Economist) As strikes and walkouts mounted over the last few years, some commentators suggested rising worker voice was a function of a tight labor market, one that would end in an economic downturn. But what if the last few years were just the beginning of this trend?

Current and Ex-Employees Allege Google Drastically Rolled Back Diversity and Inclusion Programs (April Glaser, NBC News) What’s changing at a company that once was praised for its leadership on this issue?


Facebook Reportedly Ignored Its Own Research Showing Algorithms Divided Users (Nick Statt, The Verge) Another piece that raises challenging questions, particularly how competing centers of influence in a company determine how values are put into practice.

Dark Patterns and Design Policy (Caroline Sanders, Data & Society Points Blog) Another read that tackles the question of how to translate ideals into reality, this time from a technical perspective: “Design can unintentionally shift, mask, and hide policy, as well as the intentions of policy.”


For more on our work to align business with the long-term good of society, sign up for our monthly newsletter and visit our website. (Please note, the purpose of this newsletter is to highlight what Aspen BSP staff are reading, and is not intended as advertisement or endorsement of content or viewpoints.)