MARTIN WOLF: The rise of rentier capitalism is partly why the economy does not deliver
An explosion of financial activity since 1980 has not raised the growth of productivity. If anything, it has lowered it
“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders.” With this sentence, the US Business Roundtable, which represents the CEOs of 181 of the world’s largest companies, abandoned their long-standing view that “corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders”.
This is certainly a moment. But what does — and should — that moment mean? The answer needs to start with acknowledgment of the fact that something has gone very wrong. Over the past four decades, and especially in the US, the most important country of all, we have observed an unholy trinity of slowing productivity growth, soaring inequality and huge financial shocks.