Prediction: Global Corporations Will Be The Last Power Brokers

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Prediction: Corporations are the last power brokers

Status: Happened

“The next decade will start with a gimpy U.S. consumer. With the credit binge gone, higher taxes, health costs, and flat wages will keep Mr. Jones from buying a third flat screen for the bathroom. Similarly, government is running low on options
to keep us competitive. What remains is an empowered, wealthy, private sector that can chase profits to the farthest, dustiest corners of New Delhi.”

Econovation, 2011, p.68, 69

What Happened

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Fortune 500 2015

“Fortune 500 companies are more important to the economy than ever before. We live in the age of startups, right? Silicon Valley is the source of business dynamism, while “big” companies are bureaucratic, entrenched, obsolete. But here’s a fact: Fortune 500 companies had revenues last year that equaled 71.9% of U.S. GDP—up from 58.4% two decades ago, and 35% in 1955. To be sure, much of that revenue comes from overseas operations. But these companies are still the guts of the U.S., and the global, economy.”

Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice 2015

“By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.”

The Oligarchy Economy: Concentrated Power, Income Inequality, and Slow Growth 2016

“My study reveals that America does not suffer from a shortage of investment in the general sense. The American corporate sector has been spending more money than ever, but instead of ploughing resources into job creation and fixed asset investment, historically unprecedented resources are flowing into mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and stock repurchase, the combined effect of which has been slower growth and rising inequality.”

These 25 Companies Are More Powerful Than Many Countries 2016

“Already, the cash that Apple has on hand exceeds the GDPs of two-thirds of the world’s countries. Firms are also setting the pace vis-à-vis government regulators in a perennial game of cat-and-mouse. After the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act to discourage banks from growing excessively big and catastrophe-prone. Yet while the law crushed some smaller financial institutions, the largest banks — with operations spread across many countries — actually became even larger, amassing more capital and lending less. Today, the 10 biggest banks still control almost 50 percent of assets under management worldwide.”

When the Guy Making Your Sandwich Has a Noncompete Clause 2014

“American businesses are paying out a historically low proportion of their income in the form of wages and salaries. But the Jimmy John’s employment agreement is one small piece of evidence that workers, especially those without advanced skills, are also facing various practices and procedures that leave them worse off, even apart from what their official hourly pay might be. Collectively they tilt the playing field toward the owners of businesses and away from the workers who staff them.

Worker Non-Compete Clauses Are Incredibly Common—and Often Make No Sense 2016

Public Sees Wealthy People, Corporations Gaining Influence in Trump Era 2017

UN Study Warns: Growing Economic Concentration Leads to “Rentier Capitalism” 2017

“At the same time, the share of surplus profits grew significantly for all firms in the database, from 4 percent of total profits in 1995–2000 to 23 percent in 2009–2015. For the top 100 firms, the share of surplus profits grew from 16 percent of total profits in 1995–2000 to 40 percent in 2009–2015. The trend toward concentration, the authors note, has not extended to employment. Between 1995 and 2015, as the market cap of the world’s top 100 firms quadrupled, their share of the job market didn’t even double—a finding that echoes the results of previous studies that linked the decline of labor’s share to the rise of market power.”

What’s Next?

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Provocative predictions & prescriptions on where innovation, economics & culture will take us. Fearless. Funny.