Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: November 2019

November 26, 2019  • 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 reading about workers and fairness, tech industry stumbles, and much more.

The Economy

Here Are the 10 Companies with the Most Cash on Hand (Pippa Stevens, CNBC) Why aren’t big businesses spending more? The answer may reveal something about their outlook on the US economy.

Why Income Inequality Is Such a Huge Topic for 2020 Candidates — and Investors (Tory Newmyer, The Washington Post) What is the top risk factor facing investors next year? One chief economist points to inequality as a key flash point, and argues that it’s time for markets and investors, as well as politicians, to pay attention.

Worker Voice

How a Few Former Toys ‘R’ Us Employees Are Helping Lead the Brand’s Comeback and Putting Workers First (Rick Wartzman, Fast Company) In the process of re-inventing itself, the brand may introduce a management innovation: a “mirror board” consisting entirely of workers.

WeWork’s Workers Are Organizing (Bijan Stephen, The Verge) As the company lays off nearly a fifth of its employees, many are sending a message: “We want to leave behind a legacy that represents the true character and intentions of WeWork employees.”

Purpose of the Corporation

Can a Company Be Virtuous and Profitable? Nestlé Says Yes (Jack Ewing, The New York Times) Innovations like Beyond Meat hold great hope for companies working to address the world’s environmental challenges. But what is it actually like to be an employee working on projects with so much at stake?

Small Actions Big Difference (CB Bhattacharya) When it comes to managing carbon emissions and natural resources, what distinguishes the best companies from the rest? This book uses in-depth interviews with multinational corporations across multiple sectors to investigate the role of psychological ownership in tackling the strategic challenges of sustainability.


Big Tech Takes Aim at the Low-Profit Retail-Banking Industry (The Economist) “Since the financial crisis, credit provision has become one of the world’s most regulated activities…. Why would Big Tech want to be a bank?”

Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break (Jennifer Brandel, Mara Zepeda, Astrid Scholz & Aniyia Williams, Medium) “We believe that developing alternative business models to the startup status quo has become a central moral challenge of our time.” A substantive call to arms that you’ll want to highlight and quote.

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.)