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

Banks today are increasingly consolidating branch locations, while also moving away from low-cost financial services to high-profit activities, leaving marginalized Americans underserved and left behind in today’s economy. Without access to basic banking services, such as checking and savings accounts or small loans, consumers are vulnerable
to a host of financial abuses. To foster a more

Workers are increasingly powerless in the 21st century economy. Working people have few rights on the job, corporations and wealthy individuals hold outsized influence in politics and policymaking, economic inequality is vast and deep, and economic mobility is out of reach for most. Most notably, the unionization rate—a key measure of worker voice and worker

Why This Matters is a series from Roosevelt staff connecting our individual work—from papers to reports and everything in between—to our broader vision of creating a better, more equitable economic and political system. This series will give readers the top takeaways from our latest writing and thinking, with a focus on why they matter as we

With $1.5 trillion in outstanding student debt, more than 8 million borrowers in default, and millions more delinquent on their repayments, the student loan system today is holding Americans back from economic opportunity and stability. Faced with such troubling trends, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos should be focused on relieving these burdens for borrowers.

In a joint publication of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the Roosevelt Institute, Irene Tung and Katy Milani expose the extent of stock buyback spending across the U.S. economy from 2015 to 2017—finding that companies spent almost 60 percent of net profits on buybacks. At a time of growing economic inequality, with millions

Why This Matters is a series from Roosevelt staff connecting our individual work—from papers to reports and everything in between—to our broader vision of creating a better, more equitable economic and political system. This series will give readers the top takeaways from our latest writing and thinking, with a focus on why they matter as we

Many progressives have rightly criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), also known as the Trump tax law, on the grounds that the TCJA will cost over $1.5 trillion in lost revenue over the next decade, at a time when there is already insufficient revenue being generated to meet our country’s pressing needs. Many others have

Who Are the Shareholders?

The ideology of “shareholder primacy”—the belief that businesses function solely to profit and “maximize value” for shareholders—has had a profound and toxic effect on our economy. Corporate executives used to, in large part, manage companies for the long term, workers had more bargaining power and greater economic security, and the economy was more dynamic. Today,