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. At the end of a month in which the U.S. elected its next president and Covid-19 cases continue to surge around the world, we look at changes around the corner as well as longer-term shifts in the global economy.
President Joe Biden Will Face Two Extraordinary Economic Challenges (The Economist) What will change between now and when the President-elect takes the Oath of Office in January?
Weekly Jobless Claims Higher Than Expected as Labor Market Takes Hit from Rising Covid Cases (Jeff Cox, CNBC) An economist quoted in the piece calls this one of the strangest recoveries on record, noting that “Companies are clearly not cash-strapped and are planning for a stronger economy next year as they continue to order up new long-lived capital goods equipment...”
Amazon Spends Another $500 Million on Bonuses. Some of Its Workers Are Still Going on Strike (Hanna Ziady, CNN Business) A series of global strikes confront the eCommerce giant as holiday shopping hits its highest peak. What substantive changes should the company make to ensure that worker voices are heard?
No Masks? No Hazard Pay? Amid Covid-19 Surge, Grocery Store Workers Demand Protections (Charisse Jones, USA Today) At issue: accusations “that many major employers have grown lax, cutting wages and protections put in place when the coronavirus first began to spread in the spring.” What do we (still) owe essential workers?
Purpose of the Corporation
How Venture Capitalists Are Deforming Capitalism (Charles Duhigg, The New Yorker) “In the traditional capitalist model, the most efficient and capable company succeeds; in the new model, the company with the most funding wins. Such firms are often ‘destroying economic value’—that is, undermining sound rivals—and creating ‘disruption without social benefit.’”
Capitalisn’t: What Is the Alternative to Friedman’s Capitalism? (Luigi Zingales, Bethany McLean, Chicago Booth Review) This podcast (with transcript), recorded in the days when the election’s outcome was still being determined, poses powerful questions about economic systems that can outlast any single occupant of the Oval Office.
On Election Day, Facebook and Twitter Did Better by Making Their Products Worse (Kevin Roose, The New York Times) Leading up to this election, fears were high that the rapid dissemination of falsehoods on major social media networks could lead to civil unrest. The companies made important efforts to tackle these issues—by hindering some of the very features that have made them so successful. Does this offer lasting lessons for how these businesses might operate in the future?
Report Outlines Route Toward Better Jobs, Wider Prosperity (Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office) In recent years, dramatic headlines about artificial intelligence and other forms of automation destroying jobs have become almost unavoidable. A new research report debunks the most exaggerated claims and, more importantly, offers a positive vision for shared prosperity in an economy increasingly shaped by technology.
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.)