Continuing the Conversation About Race, Our Monopoly Problem, and Fixing Corporate America

October 27, 2017

The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week.

1. Inequality is Not Inevitable

Roosevelt was on the road this week, this time in North Carolina for the “In Conversation” conference at Duke University. While in town, Roosevelt’s Andrea Flynn, Dorian Warren, and Felicia Wong—co-authors of The Hidden Rules of Race—stopped by the local NPR affiliate to talk about the hidden rules and how they shape the economy. Wong explains that the race versus class conversation is a false construct. “You must be able to look at both” to truly rewrite the rules for all Americans, she said.

2. Our Monopoly Problem

Roosevelt Chief Economist and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz was in The Nation this week with a column based on the keynote address he delivered at our “Market Power Rising” event in September. In his essay, Stiglitz examines the rise in market power and the many ways this issue is connected to the “widespread sense of powerlessness” currently sweeping America. Ultimately, the imbalance of economic power in our country jeopardizes not only the health of our economy but also our democracy itself.

3. Fixing Corporate America

The dominant way of doing business in our country isn’t working for the vast majority of Americans. In an op-ed for Quartz, Roosevelt Fellow Susan R. Holmberg explains why empowering and positioning workers as corporate stakeholders can strengthen businesses and our economy. “Want to fix U.S. corporations? Put regular workers on company boards,” she says. Holmberg’s analysis suggests that the better we treat workers, the stronger our economy will be.

4. Congress Fails Americans

Under the cover of night on Tuesday, Congress voted to undo a rule that enables Americans to hold banks accountable for financial wrongdoing. Now that customers can’t seek legal recourse, banks and credit card companies have the power to resolve disputes through mandatory arbitration. Before the vote, Roosevelt’s Mike Konczal was on Bloomberg Law radio to explain what’s at stake. Consumer choice, industry competition, and—most importantly—citizens’ rights are on the line, he explains. Ultimately, repealing consumer protections is a win for the big banks and hurts Americans.

5. Will the SEC Put Workers First?

This week, Robert Jackson Jr. and Hester Peirce went before the Senate Banking committee for a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) nomination hearing. In her latest blog post, Roosevelt Senior Fellow Lenore Palladino explains how the SEC has the opportunity to reshape the way companies behave by rewriting a rule that currently encourages them to invest in immediate gains over workers. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) elevated this rule—known as “safe harbor”—during the hearing, and we are cautiously optimistic that both nominees agreed to revisit it.

What We’re Reading:

In Politico, Roosevelt Fellow Todd Tucker explains why a NAFTA sunset clause, in which legislative action is required to extend the agreement, isn’t a crazy idea in theory—but Trump’s version of it is. “Allowing NAFTA to expire every five years without affirmation by all three countries is a bad idea. But a sunset clause isn’t,” he argues. Citing increased legitimacy, balance, and deliberation, Tucker makes his case: “In short, a generational sunset is an opportunity to better ground globalization in democracy.”

What We’re Watching:

A billionaire pharmaceutical executive was arrested yesterday following an “opioid kickback scheme,” reports CBS News. This unconscionable behavior shows that the fight against the opioid epidemic is not only a public health crisis and an economic concern—it’s a corporate power story, too.