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Share Buybacks and the Contradictions of “Shareholder Capitalism”

In the jargon of finance, America is suffering from a capital allocation problem. The country seems incapable of making the necessary investments to fuel future productivity and growth, or to ensure widespread prosperity. At the government level, public spending on basic research and development as well as infrastructure investment has declined significantly over the past…

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Principles for Dummies

On the first page of his best-selling memoir, Ray Dalio unburdens himself of the opinion that he is “a dumb shit.” Nothing in the ensuing six hundred or so pages convinced me that I should dissent from this verdict. I can say honestly, in keeping with the book’s own serial inducements to “radical transparency,” that my endorsement of Dalio’s conclusion about his own intelligence was arrived at without prejudice…

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The Open Office and the Spirit of Capitalism

It would be too much to say that the office is the prime locus of utopian aspirations in American life. But the claim wouldn’t be entirely misleading, either, and it might even shed some light on what the office actually is. From their earliest days as dingy counting houses in Boston and Manhattan, American offices have…

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The Past and Future of Political Economy

In this remarkable work, Robert Skidelsky—historian, biographer, and tribune of Keynesian ideas in the House of Lords—unites his experience, knowledge, and talents in a sweeping account of money and power. His topic is not money and power…

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Corporate Power and the Self-Destruction of Neoliberalism

Since the mid-1970s, the majority of economic power in the Western world has fallen into the hands of business and finance. At that time—facing the enormous challenges of oil price explosions, inflation, and unemployment—the governments of most countries virtually surrendered, and left it to global corporations to search for solutions. Margret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and…

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Liberty versus Monopoly

Over the last half-century, business interests and philosophical libertarians have formed a powerful alliance. Business leaders frequently claim to be libertarians and draw on the rhetoric of the free market to criticize government regulation. In turn, libertarians frequently defend businesses against what both groups see as an overbearing regulatory state. The connection is best represented…

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Utopia’s Borders

The political future of the European bloc looks distressingly rough. Already in a December 2016 essay published in the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau warned that the “liberal capitalist order” was in peril of capsizing under what he called “uncontrolled flows of people and capital.” The mere…

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Hamilton’s Revolutionary Financial System

At George Washington’s invitation, Hamilton eagerly accepted office as the nation’s first treasury secretary. Though only 34 years old, he had long considered the severe economic and financial problems facing the country…

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The Criminal as Entrepreneur

The latest iteration of rap beef—this time between the multiplatinum hitmaker Drake and the street-credible lyricist Pusha T—had all of the attributes of the tradition, only it was fueled by the warp speed of social media and the glitz of a calculated marketing plan. Witty innuendo, gossip, and slick production were married to the Spotify playlist algorithm and Instagram stories. But there was something…

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Conservative Critiques of Capitalism

The 1984 Republican Party platform lauded what it called “democratic capitalism” for having produced, “in the United States and elsewhere, an unparalleled ability to achieve political and civil rights and long-term prosperity for ever-growing numbers of people.” In 2016, the GOP platform continued…

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