Long-Term Capitalism

What We’re Reading: September 2021

September 30, 2021  • 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, once imagined to be a return to normal, instead may herald yet another “new normal” thanks to COVID-19’s Delta variant. This new phase may present significant uncertainty for business leaders and workers for some time.

The Economy

Early Withdrawal of Pandemic UI: Impact on Job Finding in July Using Current Population Survey (Arindrajit Dube, Professor of Economics, UMass Amherst) This month, 7.5 million Americans lost pandemic-related unemployment insurance benefits. Will the effort spur job creation? Analysis of states that ended UI benefits early suggests otherwise.

Supply Chain Squeeze: First Cars, Now Chairs and Cupboards (Valentina Romei, Martin Arnold, and Davide Ghiglione, The Financial Times) Unemployment insurance has often been discussed as a driver of inflation in the era of COVID. But supply chain disruptions may be a more decisive factor—and they’re not going away.

Stock Buybacks Boom as Corporate Cash Piles Grow (Hope King, Axios) “The Delta variant is keeping more companies cautious about how to invest the mountains of cash they have at their disposal. That hesitancy has led, in part, to corporate spending on stock buybacks outpacing capital expenditures this year.”

Worker Voice

Anti-Masker Abuse, Subpar Healthcare, and a 5 Cent Raise: CVS Workers Say Enough Is Enough (Michael Sanito, The Guardian) “The first thing they want to do is they want to cut a quarter of everybody’s paycheck, and then they want to offer a nickel raise and say, ‘we’re taking care of our workers.’” This piece spotlights CVS employees but also speaks to the challenges faced by low-wage and frontline workers across the board.

Nabisco Workers End Weekslong Strike After Reaching New Contract (Neil Vigdor, The New York Times) How have unionized workers in some companies successfully pushed for better policies, pay, and benefits?

Purpose of the Corporation

Google, Apple Remove Navalny App From Stores as Russian Elections Begin (Reuters) A piece that poses a challenging question for the “stakeholder capitalism” movement: What to do when a key stakeholder—such as a national government—opposes competitive democratic elections?

The Equity Effect: Principles for the Post-Pandemic Organization (Sparks & Honey) An extensive report that, among other things, seeks to quantify the workforce trends that have accelerated as a result of the pandemic. Its most powerful insight is the newfound centrality of equity and worker voice.


Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead. (Keach Hagey and Jeff Horwitz, The Wall Street Journal) Part of a stunning series of revelations about the tech titan produced by the Wall Street Journal this month.

Is This Facebook’s ‘Big Tobacco’ Moment? (Naomi Nix, David McLaughlin, Anna Edgerton, Bloomberg Businessweek) Revelations that Facebook has been burying its own research indicating the harms of its products are raising comparisons to the Tobacco Industry’s tactics in the 1990s. What’s next?

For more on our work to align business with the long-term good of society, sign up for our newsletters 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.)