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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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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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Sweden’s Ambivalence on Immigration

In 2015, immigration to Sweden reached an all-time high. At its peak, more than 10,000 people arrived in a single week. The total for the entire year was 162,877 people—1.6 percent of the Swedish population. In September, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven welcomed the immigrants, saying that his Europe does not build walls. A month and…

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Radical Markets versus Sensible Politics

Market-based reforms were used in the 1980s—really invented as a concept in the run-up to the 1980s—to counteract the excesses and failures of post–World War II social policy. At the time, marginal income tax rates in excess of 70 percent had shifteind income into unproductive tax-optimization vehicles instead of savings and investment. Excessive urban rent controls were a disincentive…

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Shopping for the Sublime

When Bruce Springsteen—that avatar of a blue-collar America fighting for its life against the riptide of history—asked on his 1981 single “The River” whether a dream is a lie if it doesn’t come true or if it’s something worse, the question was rhetorical. This is America, after all. Dreams and lies are similar things, each with a force derived from desire…

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Henry George’s Land Value Tax: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

A city is an agrarian-urban unit that exists to promote the well-being of individual persons over the course of a whole life and the city itself across multiple generations. Extended human well-being in any city requires that city to occupy its own land well, to protect its adjacent landscape, and to afford citizens opportunities to…

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The Future of Fannie and Freddie

In one of the fateful moments in the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed in conservatorship on September 6, 2008, one week before the earth-shattering collapse of Lehman. The panic that followed the Lehman bankruptcy overshadowed the crisis facing the two mortgage giants, but the idea that these two companies could both…

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The Two-Board Knot: Zoning, Schools, and Inequality

Old Town Road traces a choppy, swerving path that marks the southern edge of Trumbull, Connecticut. It is shaded by maples and oaks that frame the sensible New England homes of an affluent suburb. Across the double yellow lines of Old Town Road are similar homes in the city of Bridgeport, one of the poorest…

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