For years, the Harvard Business School fellow William Lazonick has been writing about the rise of the "shareholder value" doctrine in capital markets, and how that has driven financial engineering tactics like stock buybacks, which allow shareholders (including top executives) to prosper at the expense of the companies they have invested in, siphoning value out of profitable businesses until they collapse.
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In 2015, a deep investigative report from Inside Climate News revealed that as early as 1977, Exxonmobil knew that it was destroying the planet with CO2 emissions, and its response to that fact was to gin up a decades-long disinformation campaign aimed at sowing expensive doubt about the subject, even as it grew more certain of its facts.
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Before the deregulation bonanza of the 1980s, corporations were expected to use debt and the public markets as the capital of last resort: they would pay "normal" dividends, then use the left over money to increase pay and fund expansion; but after the birth of "shareholder management," companies have acted like homeowners before the financial crisis: borrowing heavily to pay investors, at the expense of expansion and wages -- but unlike homeowners, corporate management gets to duck the bill when it comes due. Read the rest