The ongoing global economic crisis is not only causing incumbent governments to lose elections; it is also shaking corporate boards. But major companies are fighting back, deploying armies of lawyers to undercut the growing wave of shareholder discontent that their managers face.
CHICAGO – The ongoing global economic crisis is not only causing incumbent governments to lose elections; it is also shaking corporate boards. When stock prices and profits seemed to defy gravity, shareholders’ meetings resembled American political conventions: a show to promote a company’s image, rather than a forum to debate contentious issues. This year’s round of annual general meetings has been different. Frustrated by low returns, investors are much feistier.
At Credit Suisse and Barclays, for example, more than a quarter of shareholders rejected the pay package proposed by management. At Citigroup, a majority of shareholders rejected managers’ pay at Citigroup – the first S&P 500 company at which that happened.
Shareholder activists can also claim other (at least partial) victories at Yahoo!, where a shareholder activist forced the newly appointed CEO to resign for falsifying his educational credentials.
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Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.
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During a time of American waywardness under Donald Trump, the United Kingdom's national security has increasingly come to depend on the European Union as a buffer against Russian revanchism. Ironically, then, the safest form of Brexit might be the one that hurts the most, so long as it leaves behind a stable EU.
Standard economic theory says that net inward migration, like free trade, benefits the native population after a lag. But recent research has poked large holes in that argument, while the social and political consequences of open national borders similarly suggest the appropriateness of immigration limits.
Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.
With the withdrawal of the Free Democrats from coalition talks, Chancellor Angela Merkel could be forced to form a minority government. That would not necessarily be a bad thing; in fact, a Merkel who can be called to account by the Bundestag may be the best alternative Germany has.
In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.