Articles & Blogs on the Ethics of Markets / Economics / Business

Five Miles of Fake Flowers, Cat Cushions and Muzak: Enter the World’s Largest Market

“The Yiwu International Trade City in China is the world’s largest wholesale market for consumer goods, stretching some five miles and featuring roughly 75,000 vendors. The Chinese-American filmmaker Jessica Kingdon’s observational documentary Commodity City employs static shots of everyday scenes from the market – mostly without dialogue – to convey the seemingly endless stretches of vendor booths that specialise in everything from cat pillows to Santa figurines. Through these vignettes, Kingdon captures the incongruous interplay of boredom and commerce, vastness and claustrophobia that characterises this otherworldly space, offering a hypnotic anthropologic exploration of consumer culture and capitalism.”

How We Create and Destroy Growth: The 2018 Nobel Laureates

“The 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences has been awarded jointly to William Nordhaus for ‘integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis’, and to Paul Romer for ‘integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis’. This column outlines their work and the connections between them. Both have at their core the longstanding problem of economic growth: why are some places and times rich and others poor, and what is the impact of these differences?”

The Scale of the Climate Catastrophe Will Depend on What Businesses Do Over the Next Decade

“With a few exceptions, most companies are only doing the things that pay off in traditional return-on-investment terms — for example, when solar and wind get cheap enough, they buy it. Really sticking to the latest science, however, requires an accelerating pace of carbon reduction. So, let me suggest four somewhat uncomfortable actions that companies must take to truly shake things up and accelerate climate action.”

How Shareholder Profits Conquered Capitalism – And How Workers Can Win back Its Benefits for Themselves

“Following the growth of the labour movement, the establishment of trade unions and the founding of the welfare state in the first half of the 20th century, corporations in decades after World War II embraced a more open, stakeholder capitalism, where profits were shared between employees, managers and shareholders. […] But since the 1970s the pendulum has swung back towards a system where profits are shared less widely, causing major upheavals in society and the fortunes of labour and the middle classes.”

Amazon and Other ‘Superstar’ Companies Could Give All American Workers a Raise

“The rise of superstar companies is also what is driving widening income inequality today. While we usually think about inequality in terms of the gap between higher and low earners, researchers have found that the bigger issue is the gap between rich and poor companies, which in turn reinforces the gap in pay between individuals.”

How to Reconnect Young People with Capitalism

“So, let’s accept one thing upfront: capitalism, based within a free-market system, is flawed and often undermined by vested interests. Yet, despite these imperfections, it soars far above any other solution invented in the history of man to bring health, wealth, and happiness. And its respect for personal autonomy, freedom, and empowerment is second to none. Yet, the zeitgeist seems against it. One group particularly sceptical of its transformational capabilities is the young.”

Trust Has to Be as Important as Profit if Banks and Their Boards Are to Regain Their Corporate Legitimacy

“For the past three years I have used confidential, high-level interviews and forums to examine the views of board members (including members of bank boards) in order to understand the tensions and trade-offs they make as they navigate social, environmental and stakeholder concerns.”

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