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 highlighting some of the strengths, and peculiarities, of the economy, and comparing the U.S. system to similar industrialized countries.
Americans Can’t Stop Spending. Five Reasons Why. (Rachel Wolfe and Amara Omeokwe, The Wall Street Journal) A fascinating mix of macroeconomic data and individual stories that hints at how remarkable the economic policymaking of the pandemic has been in the U.S.
What Recent Research Says About the Benefits of Labor Strikes and Growing Worker Power for Broader U.S. Economic Growth (Equitable Growth) Will recent strikes and stronger unions help move the wages and benefits of all U.S. labor closer to par with workers in peer economies?
Amid Strikes, One Question: Are Employers Miscalculating? (Noam Scheiber, The New York Times) “In example after example, executives appear to have been taken aback by unions’ new, more assertive leaders and their success at rallying members and the public, as well as the ineffectiveness of the employers’ traditional bargaining approach.” Time for another mindset on worker voice?
Will the U.A.W. Strike Turn the Rust Belt Green? (Dan Kaufman, The New Yorker) Excellent briefing that connects the consequences of policies like NAFTA and the 2008 auto industry bailouts to current worker organizing and, just possibly, the fate of U.S. politics and climate policy in the future. See also: UAW: Winners and Losers of 2023 Talks With GM, Ford, Stellantis (Michael Wayland, CNBC).
It’s Time to Find Out Who the Corporate Climate Leaders Are (Justin Worland, TIME) “…the new rules will ripple across the globe, collectively representing a new regime that doesn’t rely on voluntary disclosure but rather requires companies to deliver the hard facts on how they’re approaching climate change.” A good introduction to the stage being set by regulatory developments from the European Union, California, and perhaps even at the U.S. national level. Well, maybe—it looks like advocates of climate disclosure regulation at the national level in the U.S. have their work cut out for them, if this piece is any indicator: Climate Disclosure Rule Will Help U.S. Firms, Gensler Tells Chamber of Commerce (Brian Croce, Pensions & Investments).
Most Americans Still Unclear About What ESG Means (Jamie Hailstone, Forbes) For those in the business of sustainability, 2023 may have seemed the “year of ESG backlash” and “greenwashing.” But for the broader public at large? Not so much. Might confusion around ESG explain Why America Trails the World on Climate Fund Investing (Tim Quinson, Bloomberg)?
Amazon Used Secret ‘Project Nessie’ Algorithm to Raise Prices (Dana Mattioli, The Wall Street Journal) An extraordinary example of the power of large technology companies in the United States: a new FTC lawsuit alleges that the tech titan used an algorithm not just to raise its own prices, but to use its vast influence in the market to force competitors to raise their prices as well.
Meta to Launch Subscriptions for Ad-Free Facebook and Instagram in Europe (Angela Yang, NBC News) Does European policy suggest a better approach to managing the influence of tech companies? “The company is launching the subscription as a way to comply with a ruling by the E.U.’s top court stating that, under the union’s data privacy laws, it must obtain consent before showing ads to users. The strict rules limit Meta’s ability to tailor ads by tracking users’ online activity.”
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