Lenore Palladino

Lenore Palladino is Senior Economist and Policy Counsel at the Roosevelt Institute, where she brings expertise to Roosevelt’s work on inequality, finance, corporate governance and securities law reform.

Lenore is Assistant Professor of Economics & Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (beginning Fall 2019). Her research and writing focus on financial reform, financial taxation, labor rights, and fiscal crises. Her publications have appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, State Tax Notes, the Financial Times, and other venues. Palladino earned a BA from the University of Chicago, a JD from Fordham Law School, and a PhD in Economics from the New School University. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the fiscal and financial effects of a financial transaction tax in New York.

Lenore was most recently Vice President for Policy & Campaigns at Demos, where she built Demos’s strategic campaigns department. Prior to Demos, she was the Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. She helped set MoveOn's strategic priorities and mobilized millions of Americans to participate in crucial campaigns and key election cycles. Previously, she led successful union organizing drives for the Civil Service Employees Association-AFSCME, and worked with United Students Against Sweatshops as its National Director. The Midwest Academy granted Lenore its Organizer of the Year Award in 2011. She has taught Economics at Smith College, New York University, and the New School and is admitted to the New York Bar. She is also a Louis O. Kelso Fellow with the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations.

Economic inequality is on the rise. Corporate “shareholder primacy” means that the vast majority of today’s record corporate profits are used to increase the wealth of shareholders, through dividends and stock buybacks.[1] Meanwhile, real wages for non-executive workers have essentially remained stagnant for decades. Increasing worker bargaining power in the 21st century is necessary, and

For nearly half of a century, America’s public corporations have been driven by a shareholder primacy approach to corporate governance, increasingly prioritizing shareholder payments over other, more productive uses of corporate resources. Over the same period, employee bargaining power has decreased and wages for nonexecutive workers have remained flat across sectors. In Ending Shareholder Primacy in Corporate Governance,

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced the STOP Walmart Act, which prohibits large companies from engaging in stock buybacks unless they make serious investments in their workers. While the act takes aim at Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, it highlights the theme of my work: that excessive giveaways to

The 2016 corruption scandal at Wells Fargo, in which executives pressured employees to meet “wildly unrealistic sales targets,” created a work environment described as “relentless pressure.” Once revealed, the massive fraud committed against millions of consumers led to congressional hearings, substantial fines by state and federal regulators, and a series of announced changes by Wells

Corporations today operate according to a model of corporate governance known as “shareholder primacy.” This theory claims that the purpose of a corporation is to generate returns for shareholders, and that decision-making should be focused on a singular goal: maximizing shareholder value. This single-minded focus—which often comes at the expense of investments in workers, innovation,

Editor’s Note: On August 15, 2018, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act, legislation that would require corporations to consider the interests of all stakeholders within the firm—not only shareholders—in company decisions. Corporations are made up of a wide range of stakeholders: workers, managers, executives, and shareholders. Currently, only executives and shareholders have the

Introduction On Tuesday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)—one of the nation’s banking regulators—announced that it will allow non-bank financial technology companies (fintechs) to apply for national bank status. This may sound like a plain-vanilla regulatory move, but it is a move in the wrong direction from regulation that would truly protect

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For a full analysis of why stock buybacks artificially boost share prices and reward shareholders and executives to the real detriment of workers and our economy at large, see Stock Buybacks: Driving a High-Profit, Low-Wage Economy. Monday’s bold speech by Robert Jackson Jr., Commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), will hopefully mark the

The rules that shape corporate America incentivize behavior that has led to the economic puzzle we see today: high corporate profits coupled with low and stagnant wages. “Shareholder primacy” is the practice in which corporations prioritize shareholder payouts over productive investment and employee compensation. This way of operating dominates corporate decision-making today, so employees have

The dramatic rise in stock buybacks following the passage of the GOP tax plan, also known as the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, has elevated the role stock buybacks play in on our economy. Estimates have shown more than $100 billion in new stock buyback programs have been authorized since the tax law’s passage. Additionally,

Submitted testimony from Lenore Palladino, Senior Economist and Policy Counsel, Roosevelt Institute March 15, 2018   Dear Senator Martin, Senator Winfield, Representative Lesser and Members of the Banking Committee: My name is Lenore Palladino. I am a Senior Economist and Policy Counsel at the Roosevelt Institute. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you

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In the six weeks since the passage of the GOP tax plan, officially known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, businesses have been lauded for announcements of wages and bonuses. Yet it’s corporate stock buybacks—the practice of companies spending their cash on buying back their own shares in order to raise share prices overall—that

Larry Fink’s annual letter to CEOs is making waves for its pronouncement that “companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.” Fink is the head of $6.3 trillion dollar asset manager BlackRock and the leader of a rising chorus calling on companies to stop focusing

The ability of workers to bargain for a greater share of a firm’s corporate profits has eroded over decades, and one of the growing drivers of this reality is the financialization of the corporate sector. Corporate financialization can be summed up as two behaviors: firms (like Walmart or Pfizer) increasingly earning profits from financial activity

Yesterday, two nominees went before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee for a chance to become the next commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We were thrilled to see Senator Brian Schatz ask the nominees to give their thoughts about the stock buyback “safe harbor,” Rule 10b-18, and even more excited that both

Progressives should embrace employee ownership as one of the best ways to challenge corporate power from the bottom up and put supporting the growth of worker-owned firms in the center of our strategy. As the economy becomes Uber-ized and dominant firms in all sectors take up more and more market share, structural reforms like better

With all the discussion on Trump’s tax plan, you could be forgiven for thinking the current tax code is a good tax system. Today’s tax system creates a disproportionate concentration of wealth in the corporate and financial sectors, while leaving revenue on the table that could be put to productive use. In a recent paper,

Despite energetic conversations around stagnant wages and job creation, few consider that the financialization of America’s public corporations has contributed just as much to economic inequality as more commonly-cited factors. The debate seems well-settled: scholars point to globalization[1], skill-biased technical change[2], and the decline of union density[3]. Others point to the “rise of the robots”[4],

Our debate about what is possible in U.S. policy is severely constrained by the assumption that our public resources are scarce and already overspent, meaning we are not capable of the large-scale social investments needed to provide every American with income security and a dignified life. This assumption is misguided and false. Implementing tax policies

“It’s everything related to jobs… shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks.” -Donald Trump Amid discussion of the Trump administration’s plans for bringing back manufacturing, we should not lose sight of one of the best opportunities for job creation: investing

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said yesterday that “the economy is doing well” as she announced the Fed’s third benchmark rate hike since the Great Recession. Yet there are important arguments against the rate hike: Unemployment hasn’t fallen to the level it reached in the late 1990s; wages are still stagnant; people of color are

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