Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: September 2020

September 30, 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. With the U.S. now six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, this September 2020 edition of What We’re Reading explores mounting evidence on the effects of the crisis, as well as other important stories that may not make the front pages. 

The Economy

U.S. Labor Market Slowing as Fiscal Stimulus Fades (Lucia Mutikani, Reuters) Jobless claims rose again this month, after weeks of declining. Other signals support the assessment that COVID-19’s economic disruptions aren’t finished yet.

Pandemic Hits Black and Latino Families Harder Financially, Poll Finds (The New York Times) A poll conducted in July found that while 60% of all American households with children reported serious financial problems, for African-American families that number was 66% and for Latino families, 86%.

Worker Voice 

A New Era of Worker Malaise (Joann Muller, Courtenay Brown, Axios) A snapshot of new data on the stresses of the pandemic for workers underscores how dramatically workers’ relationship to employers has changed from the hot jobs market of a year ago (although even the job market of 2016-2019 had its limits: see The New York TimesEven as Americans Grew Richer, Inequality Persisted).

My 98 Days in Unemployment Purgatory (Clio Chang, The New Republic) Worker voice can be thought of narrowly as action that takes place within the realm of business. But a broader perspective suggests that workers’ voice in the economy is shaped by far-reaching systems.

Purpose of the Corporation

Business Shifts From Resistance to Action on Climate (Greg Ip, The Wall Street Journal) This month, Business Roundtable made headlines by endorsing a reduction of carbon emissions at least 80% from 2005 levels by the year 2050. This article offers excellent analysis of many seemingly small details in the announcement that signal major shifts in business attitude on climate policy.

These Companies Are Returning More Money to Shareholders after Cutting Jobs (Amelia Lucas, CNBC) Is U.S. capitalism shifting from a shareholder-centric model to a stakeholder model that prioritizes workers, the environment, and communities? Not all reports tell the same story.


The Epic-Apple Courtroom Battle Commences (The Economist) In recent years, a chorus of voices has warned of growing monopoly power in America’s economy, particularly in the tech sector. Here’s why a legal battle over a seemingly arcane technical question could have major implications for the future of capitalism in America.

Facebook Merges DMs for Instagram and Messenger (Arielle Pardes, Wired Magazine) As the article notes, Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 has been called “exactly the type of anticompetitive acquisition the antitrust laws were designed to prevent.” Now, the internet giant is moving one step closer to consolidating the social media ecosystem.

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.)