A concise, powerful call for responsible, long-term business practices.

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WHY LONG-TERM THINKING IS YOUR BEST SHORT-TERM STRATEGY

A manual advocates a return to a more classic mode of thinking about business.

In this book, the authors direct concerted criticism at the drastic increase in short-term thinking in the business and management world in the last two decades. They cite the boom in things like investment hedge funds that stress short-term gains and hence short-term thinking, pointing out that this phenomenon goes hand in hand with larger changes in corporate culture. The tenure of most executives is shorter now, they explain, noting the obvious result: “CEOs tend to focus on shorter-term objectives.” Carey (Talent Wins, 2018, etc.), Dumaine (The Plot to Save the Planet, 2008), Useem (The Leader’s Checklist, 2011, etc.), and debut author Zemmel have aimed their arguments at executives, directors, and investors, laying out the values of long-term thinking and highlighting both its risks and rewards. “One of the toughest challenges any CEO faces is staying focused on a long-term strategy while having to deal with short-term distractions,” they write. They provide several prominent examples of major corporate executives who risked short-term consequences for long-term gain: the decision of Ivan Seidenberg, when he served as Verizon’s CEO, to redouble his investment in the growth of his companies in the face of investors calling for selling off assets; the willingness of CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo to incur a short-term $2 billion loss in getting his chain out of the business of selling cigarettes; and the readiness of 3M CEO Sir George Buckley to restructure his company’s finances to increase its investment in its own future. The authors deftly use these and other cases to emphasize that long-term thinking and long-game investing and strategizing are not only more responsible, but also more profitable if they are done with daring and determination. The narrative tactic of grounding all this in real-world examples from business headlines pays off, and each chapter in the book’s first section ends with a useful “executive summary” outlining the key lessons to be learned from the individual cases. Considering the enormous harm that short-term investing has done not only to companies, but to countries as well, this book should be required reading in boardrooms everywhere.

A concise, powerful call for responsible, long-term business practices.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61363-088-4

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Wharton Digital Press

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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