Just more than 10 years ago, the single-minded pursuit of shareholder value was memorably dismissed by Jack Welch, the concept’s champion when he headed General Electric (GE) in the 1980s and 90s, as “the dumbest idea in the world”. But in the US and UK, where the model has been most popular, alternatives have not taken hold. GE, for decades a US stock market bellwether, is now in the throes of an agonising restructuring. Its successors — including Alphabet, Google’s parent, and Facebook — are concentrating wealth with a small group of founders and engineers, writes Colin Mayer. Global tax arbitrage and executive pay excesses continue to erode faith in business. “We have lost trust in corporations to look after our interests.” Restoring it is “one of the most important issues of our age”. Mayer is a believer. Despite the great gobs of gloom he dispenses about some aspects of the global corporate economy, his book is a resounding paean and radical road map towards a bright future for...

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