Yves here. We’ve pointed out for some time that corporate profit share of GDP is a stunning 12%, twice the level in the early 2000s that Warren Buffett then deemed to be unsustainable. As this article indicates, one driver of our current inflation is that corporations are generally not lowering their margins even when they are facing cost increases and having difficulty with staffing. Food is a particularly egregious example, where industry middlemen are squeezing farmers, yet the major players are continuing to jack up prices, whether or not fully warranted by expenses.
By Tom Conway, the international president of the United Steelworkers Union (USW). Produced by the Independent Media Institute
Bill Boone eats very little meat and avoids expensive gourmet foods altogether.
Yet Boone’s grocery bill still tops $280 a week at a Kroger in Benton, Arkansas, thanks to profiteering on a scale the 92-year-old says he has never witnessed before.
Corporations may try to blame the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for astronomical price increases, but that’s merely a cover story for shameless price gouging that’s left millions of Americans struggling to survive.
“Big money people are the trouble,” summed up Boone, a longtime member of the United Steelworkers (USW) who recently saw the price of his favorite coffee double.
“It’s all these brands,” Boone, who worked at Reynolds and Alcoa, said of the rampant price hikes. “It’s all the basic things people have in their homes, like salt and pepper. I feel badly for these families with three and four kids.”
As struggling Americans burn through their savings and scrimp on meals to make ends meet, companies that jacked up prices on everything from cereal to toiletries post ever-higher profits.
While parents take second jobs and even hire out their children as movers and gardeners to make extra money, CEOs brag about the exploitation that’s enabling them to pad their own pockets and shower shareholders with dividends.
“A little bit of inflation is always good in our business,” declared Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, which raised prices on customers like Boone before raking in $1.5 billion in operating profits for the first quarter this year.
Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of diapers and other essentials, plans to raise prices throughout the year even though it’s forecasting higher profits. “The consumer is very resilient,” said Andre Schulten, the company’s chief financial officer, blithely dismissing the pain he’s inflicting.
Not even President Joe Biden’s public shaming of oil companies was enough to curb their unprecedented profit-mongering. They still refuse to increase production, even as the average cost of a gallon of gas hovers around $5 and truckers like Boone’s son-in-law spend hundreds of dollars to fill up their rigs.
“People who have got everything they want still never have enough,” Boone said of the executives who aren’t only profiting from inflation but are also engineering and sustaining it. “They don’t really think it’s anything to buy a Rolls-Royce every year.”
Thanks to Boone’s union pension, he and his wife, Carolyn, can cope with padded grocery bills. But the surging prices are breaking families already living on the margins.
During the third week of June, for example, Robert P. Ford Jr. rushed to the grocery store in Akron, Ohio, and purchased emergency supplies for a woman and her teenage daughter who were living in their car.
The woman’s $10-an-hour job could no longer sustain the two of them in the face of crushing inflation, and they lost their rented home amid the mounting costs for food and other basic necessities.
“I’ve been doing this since 2018, and this is the worst I’ve seen it,” Ford said of the poverty he combats through his nonprofit, Forever R Children.
“Companies make any kind of excuse to raise prices on everything. Toilet paper has gone up. Toothpaste has gone up. Deodorant has gone up. Bacon is skyrocketing,” added Ford, a member of USW Local 2L and a production worker at Goodyear in Akron. “It’s corporate greed.”
The number of families served by his mobile food pantry more than quadrupled in the past month alone. Many struggle to afford the cereals, canned soups and other kinds of staples made by General Mills, which increased prices five times over the past year and ratcheted up some items by as much as 20 percent.
The company tried to blame higher production costs and supply chain problems, among other issues.
Yet General Mills amassed $844 million in operating profits during the first quarter of its 2022 fiscal year, and it’s provided shareholders with $375 million in stock buybacks over the past couple of years. Like many other companies, it’s raising prices just because it can.
The growing number of food pantry clients isn’t the only measure Ford has of inflation’s toll.
He sees more and more people lugging groceries home to save on gas. And a growing number, like the mother and daughter he just helped, have no roof over their heads at all as inflation fuels homelessness—including first-time homelessness—in communities across the country.
“They can’t even take all the food I’m offering them,” he said, noting homeless clients want items they can eat on the go because they lack access to ovens and microwaves. “They’re not even turning the corner, and they’re popping that can of ravioli and tossing it down their throat.”
As much as they need food, these clients also seek places to bathe.
“When you lose your home, you lose your water,” observed Ford, who recently secured a bus with the help of donations and now hopes to assemble a group of union workers to help him outfit it with showers. Then he’ll take his “community shower bus” on the road along with his mobile food pantry.
Along with all the other items costing more at grocery stores these days, Boone recently realized how much the price of baloney—the mainstay of his packed lunches during decades of shift work—also had gone up.
And that made him angry all over again with well-heeled executives and investors who will squeeze ordinary Americans at every possible turn.
“It’s just despicable how working people get treated,” he said.
I believe the federal money for free breakfast and lunch for students at schools ends this month as well.
Just too expensive you see. We all have to make sacrifices. $55,000,000,000 for new weapons at inflated prices to replace older weapons we taxpayers are throwing at the fifth losing war we’ve funded in the last two decades, plus cash grants and we’re buying food for Ukrainians.
The Biden regime needs to be overthrown and replaced with a government elected by voters, not donors.
Pelosi needs to go as well. Without Pelosi Biden would be dead in the water.
Really Tony! I mean, did you not read how our beloved leader’s husband was arrested unjustly recently for DUI and other monstrously faked charges? Please give her a break.
From the 2003 Canadian documentary The Corporation:
My favorite quote by Yanis Varoufakis: “I’ll believe corporations are people when I see one of them hanged.”
I’ve long believed that there should be a corporate “death penalty” for especially bad players and repeat offenders. Wells Fargo comes to mind (WF is both).
Given the current (and ever increasing) regulatory capture, such a thing seems unlikely.
Execute the corporate directors and you’ll see a shift in behaviour. Or, for lessor crimes, bankrupt them with massive fines they are personally liable for.
Does anyone know if lists are being compiled? We need lists for that day of reckoning, no? Its easy to get, membership lists are easy to find – Federalist Society, Business Roundtable, CEO headhunter databases, Boards of Directors….
Not just regulatory capture (in the classic sense), but the economics reverberations of such an act.
Just observe how municipalities bend over backwards to get Amazon to set up a warehouse, or Tesla a a factory. This because such activity means tax revenue.
The one thing sustaining many a place around the world is that one small corporate “tentacle” that employ the majority of the working age citizens of that place.
And at the other end, more and more politicians are direct or indirect shareholders of the very same corporations.
A twofer China executes two for tainted milk scandal
As I recall it is “psychopath”, not “sociopath”.
You are correct, thank you!
Alice X, the link to The Corporation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpQYsk-8dWg
Thank you, I watched it again.
While I think it’s hard to deny the immorality of our corporate elite; I feel the indictment in the title of this post is a bit misguided. It’s like complaining about evil lions eating gazelles. Corporate greed is the nature of the beast, and beasts don’t put on their own leashes.
Moreover, I think that this analysis discounts the damage Western, particularly American, central bankers have done to their own currencies in relation to commodities, physical goods and foreign labor. Money Printing was done for the express purpose of saving corporate balance sheets, this easy money was most definitely used to engage in non-productive activity like buybacks, but this is all consistent with the “morality” of the system.
I think the impact of this central bank driven inflation is lost on gloating CEOs, those wider profit margins are nominal as their greater profit has a vastly diminished purchasing power. And of course the only solution these CEOs see is the same our governmental elites do, squeeze/print more money.
Forgive the environmentally insensitive metaphor, but if you want to tame the lions, we’re going to have to destroy this jungle.
I disagree. This is modern capital/corporatism. In the early days corporations had three goals. To service shareholders, employees, and the community. At some point they realized two of those things didn’t matter and it became all about growth. Part of this is our own doing as our tax code rewards short-termism. There is no benefit to a CEO to slowing/sustainable grow their company. They get paid in stock! They want to boost the stock price as much as possible. That means growth or buy backs. There is evidence that since buy backs were allowed, less money is going back into the business in terms of RnD or employee training/benefits. No, this is not a natural state. We enabled it by 50 years of neoliberalism.
I don’t think there is much disagreement between us. Although I would argue about the character of early corporations. The notion that they serviced anything other than shareholders wasn’t the corporation’s proposition but rather the proposition of those structures of society that would put governance around their existence. United Steel or Standard Oil didn’t care about their workers or society any more than the East India Company before them. It was those charged with creating corporate governance that set those presumptive responsibilities upon corporations.
The rapacity unleashed by neoliberalism and shareholder value theory wasn’t unknown to us. It was the state of affairs before the regulatory period of the middle third of the 20th century. Shareholder value theory didn’t change the nature of corporations just unfettered them.
I think we would both agree about the lack of virtue in C-suite, but to the thesis of the post, I don’t think that this is the cause of inflation. I think the specific contribution to inflation by corporate greed is politically significant but materially marginal, and what else should we expect from them? I think we would agree that improving this situation wouldn’t require “moral” change in the character of corporations or their executives; but systematic change in our society as a whole.
For my part, knowing that we once tried to shackle the corporate beast with virtuous legalities, I don’t believe there’s any taming to be done a second time. Time to take them to grandpa’s farm.
Of course it’s nonsense to think that corporations have ever been anything other than profit maximizers. What is different now is that decades of neglect of anti-trust has given them unprecedent market power and political power (at least since the gilded age). The solution is vigorous enforcement of anti-trust and defeat of their Republican servants.
Exactly. The abandonment of anti-trust laws that I recall most clearly during the Clinton administration is coming home to roost. How the government can back out of that would be complicated since tthe horse is long out of the barn.
Perhaps the licensing of corporations could provide a way to rein some of this criminal behavior in.Corporations and banks are required to have a charter, a license to operate. The charter describes (or is supposed to) the public good that the proposed corporation´s activities will provide, its service area, etc. I may stand corrected, but I believe that all corporations are permitted to operate by the ´government´ – whether it is a Federal agency, a state or some other unit. This is how the death penalty for bad actors could be executed. Pull the charter or the license.
Ralph Nader and others have been writing for a while about the almost complete lack of effective laws to control corporate crime. Reminds me of the old story of the purse that was stolen by a man who reached through a window of a house and snatched it. When bought to trial he protested that he did not enter the house, only the arm. The judge agreed and sentenced the arm to whatever- two years. The man then removed his prosthetic arm and walked out of the courtroom.
A slightly unrelated comment as to the rise in stock prices. Being of simple mind, I still believe that the concept of supply and demand has value. I have looked at the graph of stock prices over the year and noted that the establishment of the 401(k) plans seems to have something to do with it. The plans´ millions of dollars are invest in stocks. Suddenly, thousands and thousaands of people enter the bidding for a limited amount of shares. What happens to the price of shares? Is this a Ponzi scheme?
“complaining about evil lions eating gazelles.”
From the Book of Sirach in the Catholic Bible:
“Can there be peace between the hyena and the dog?
Or peace between the rich and the poor?*
Wild donkeys of the desert are lion’s prey;
likewise the poor are feeding grounds for the rich.”
Per William Blake, “One law for the Lion & Ox is Oppression”
I think we forget something very basic. Stocks are at an all time high. Companies have innovated, cut costs, cut employees, bought out each other leaving no competition and cut quality. Buying back their own stock is the ONLY thing that can possibly move their stock price up. Once they are done doing that, where are they? CEO pay is tied to the market price. If they simply went private, they wouldn’t have to justify stock prices, but then the CEOs (who tend to sit on each others boards) would actually have to PERFORM to deserve their sky high salaries – stock options would cease to exist! This is the last play – raise prices and buy back some stock, not all of it. Basically all their customers are paying them directly for their crappy management skills. What board member or CEO is ever going to say – hey we need our customers, we need to let our stock price be realistic and drop back down! None!
> . . . but if you want to tame the lions, we’re going to have to destroy this jungle.
The lions are eating everything and leaving nothing left over for anyone else to eat. This jungle is destroyed already.
Very pithy observation! Hard to argue with also.
My local market has a sale on beef this week, Hamburger at $7.99 a Lb and NY steak $13.95 per Lb.
Regular gas has dropped to $6.49 per gallon.
Could one of the very knowledgeable folks on here explain in simple layman’s terms the difference between stock option and stock buyback? I’m a dimwit in this area. Many thanks! Price gouging in the First Commandment in the U.S.
They are totally different and mean just what the names say.
Stock buyback: when the corporation buys its own stock, (buying it back because they were the ones who sold it in the first place). They do this to drive up the stock price.
Stock option: the option to buy stock at a set price when the price goes higher, usually granted to employees, especially executives. Of course, this creates incentives for executives with stock options to drive up the price with buybacks.
A stock buyback is when a company literally buys its own stock from the stock market. If they target buying back a volume, or a value amount, of shares, then this pushes the stock price up due to the large volume on the buy order in a short period.
A stock option is very different. An option contract is an ability to buy a stock for that price, within the time period specified on that contract. I look at a stock with a share price of $50. I think in one year that company will be very successful and the share price will increase to $100. However, I don’t have enough capital to buy enough shares to make significant money from this belief. So instead, i buy options; Bank A believes that this company will not grow to that value so quickly. Bank A also has 10,000 shares of that company that they believe will reach $60 in a year for that nice 20% gain. So they sell me an options contract – they will sell me 1000 shares of that company, at any point in the next 14 months, for a price of $100 per share. I PAY for those options contracts – they charge me $1 per share (this value set by the bank based on their risk assessment). I have given them 1k for the OPTION to buy 1000 of their shares in this company at $100per share, within the next 14 months.
If my guess is right – the shares will be worth more than $100 in 14 months – I exercise my option to buy the shares. I have bought shares that are currently worth $100+x for $100 and thus I can sell them to make $x profit.
If the bank is right – the shares are worth $60 in 12 months. They still own all 10k shares. But they have earned an additional 1k selling those options that were not executed.
Options are also offered to some employees in some businesses. These generally have a long vesting period. This is opposite to an options contract; at the END of the vesting period the employee can decide to execute the option. These are used to motivate executives and management – they are given options to buy shares in the company they work for. In a private company working towards IPO, the employee may be (example) given 100 options to buy shares at $50, and this vests in 3 years. I.e. once 3 years of employment have passed, the employee can at any time buy 100 shares for $50ea. If the company was super successful and had floated in the meantime for $200 per share, and maintained that price on the stock market, then the employee has made a nice little bonus. If the company folds or never floats etc, or the share price goes down below $50, then the employee has nothing. This is quite a cheap way for companies to provide monetary reward only if things go well.
Companies who offer stock options to their employees have in the past repriced those options when the market tanks. This is blatantly unfair to existing shareholders and is most certainly not in the spirit of incentivizing employees and management to perform well. The huge wealth gap that presently exists in our society is driven largely by stock options and stock grants. Perhaps this is an area that can be better regulated.
the opening anecdote is just distracting me from the whole piece….yes groceries have gone up, and not defending Cargill, but what is a 92 y.o. man eating that warrants a $280/week grocery bill?
even at $8/gal, and lbs, that is a lot of organic milk and hamburger
Doing the math: 42 meals for the man and his wife every week. At $280/week, that is about $7 per meal, not including cleaning products and toiletries, which have also gone up. I don’t think $7/meal is all that unreasonable any more. It is still cheaper than going to McDonalds these days – at least here. My last meal at the fast food joint last week was $12 for a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake – just for me! It sounds like he did everything “right” and did save enough for his retirement and yes, I’m sure he could eat cheaper if he ate beans and corn flakes and gave up his favorite coffee, but at age 92 why should he be forced to do that?
Yeah I was trying to figure that out too… we do weekly shopping for a household of 3.5 (someone is only here part time) and our grocery bills only started topping $200/week mid-2021 or so. Relative in charge of checkbook moaned about topping $250/week for the first time ever this past week, but I know it was a bigger than normal run.
Perhaps, as Stoller keeps saying, it’s more about lack of competition on the supplier end for things like gasoline and beef. The grocery stores themselves are traditionally a low margin business and even the hated Walmart has lots of competition (in my town at least) when it comes to selling food.
One thing I do find surprising are the huge price differences that exist among US regions. It sounds like costs for essentials are fifty percent higher in CA than SC. Is this what businesses call “market segmentation”–you charge what the traffic will bear? Therefore poorer South Carolina is less expensive than rich California?
I dunno it’s almost apples vs oranges. California is like the 10th or 11th largest economy in the world, and home to several highly populated metropolitan areas and sprawling cities. I visited SF once in 2008, and it’s a big place with Oakland just across the bay bridge (at least I think that’s the bridge).
I expect that families relocating to the varied cities here in SC will possibly likewise push up the cost of living over the next 5 to 10 years. There may also be a flight away from those higher costing cities and states, as remote work just continues to build from where we are.
And something else, whilst I think of it. When they finally complete construction on I 85 they’ll have to start another cycle to expand the roadways.
Well our local city fathers certainly hope Ca will be coming here going by the mad pace of new construction. Whether that really happens remains to be seen.
And for years I lived in Atlanta and the latest freeway construction would always be finished just in time for the next round. For a time the stretch of 85 in Gwinnett was the busiest highway in America. One hates to agree with Biden on anything but maybe it is time for America to stop driving so much. A lady friend in Phoenix says it’s even worse there where the Californians are in fact re-locating. House prices have skyrocketed. She lives in Mesa/Apache Junction–20 miles from the center–and there are lots of people who commute that distance every day.
In the SF Bay Area merchants often charge what is known as the “Google price”. Because the perception is of Google employees that they are well paid restaurants think nothing of charging $15 for a sandwich (no sides). They do so because they assume everyone is as well compensated as are Google employees, even if they most definitely are not (there are huge pay disparities among tech employers, with the monopolistic ones typically paying much higher salaries). Across all businesses the perception is Bay Area workers are much higher paid than those in say South Carolina (not true), so prices across the board are higher.
They’re also higher because land is more expensive in the SF Bay Area, leading to higher rents on commercial properties. This drives prices up.
Just wondering if the constitutions of other countries gleefully cause this much internal conflict. Live free or die. Get raped and have that baby. Demonstrate and go to jail. No money, get a job; no jobs, live in your car. Lousy education and a dead-end life… tough. Can’t afford medical care, that’s because you are a deadbeat. Fentanyl on every street and in every pill… what a great investment. High interest rates so that “supply can catch up to demand” – that is a euphemism for controlling demand so that it does not have an impact on supply and thus the dollar. So ultimately this method of creating monetary stability by austerity is the same old stuff. Allowing supply to meet demand poses a threat to the dollar because the value of everything must still be kept in check to avoid devaluation – but the truth is that the currency is devalued either way – whether runaway inflation or profit mongering. Profit mongering is just a loophole for corporations to take advantage of unmet demand. And it’s… totally constitutional. Our economy looks like, in truth, the situation is overcapacity. Overcapacity due to over-competition…. also totally constitutional. This little Fed solution wasn’t planned for like responsible government – no, it’s always ad-hoc so that somebody can profit. Somebody named “corporation.” And the reason our overcapacity is being wound down is because competition cannot grow – it’s dead in the water. It’s over. So best let the vultures come in and pick the bones. Heaven forbid we should do any industrial planning – that’s not allowed in the absurd-beyond-belief US Constitution. And besides, when all else fails we can always go bomb some little hapless country to spice up patriotism and the conviction to actually live free or die. Even though Nancy Pelosi is always thinking of the children.
The written Constitution, no doubt, has its limitations and weaknesses. It might be agreed to embody a valuable set of ideas and principles though. That said, no written document can be fully “self-enacting”, no statement of moral principles can fully give practical place to moral behavior, no stated agreement can, of itself only, give practical application or enforcement to its provisions.
The “gleefully caused … much internal conflict” seems most to come from the combined a) relative ignorance of the general population with respect to the nature and properties of a now more complex society, and b) the zeal with which that ignorance is exploited by those who are not geniuses, are certainly not “enlightened” in any way (quite the contrary), but are “smart” enough to create highly manipulative mechanisms that extract from the society and most of its people while they remain unable to recognize or understand what is, at base, happening, or why.
Yesterday, after watching a CNN broadcast in the afternoon, I tried to post the astonishing news that Congress is putting together a bill to give the Fed an expanded mandate. The uselessness of raising interest rates has become a hot topic. Hot enough for Congress (will wonders never cease?) to begin to consider restrictions on its application. Congress is worried that the Fed’s only tool against inflation – the bludgeon effect of higher rates on everyone but the rich – causes accelerated inequality. It transfers wealth to the rich and leaves the poor worse off; sometimes even creating a sub-chronic economy to struggle on its own without a solution. And the Fed just shrugs and says, Well that is our mandate. So this could be very interesting. At the least it will force the Fed and “economists” to address inequality in their deliberations. And since the Constitution is founded on the inherent conflict between freedom and equality push might actually come to shove.
Corporate Globalica ocuppies America the same way Milosevich Serbia occupied Kosovo. I read somewhere that under the non-violent resistance phase led by Ibrahim Rugova . . . that the Kosovoans evolved a whole separate parallel society to survive under Milosevichian occupation and suppression.
Could those Americans who come to accept themselves as being “occupied Kosovoans” under the Corporate Globalican Occupation figure out how to evolve for themselves a whole separate survival society?
If they could, could they run that society in such a way as to degrade and attrit their own portion of the revenue streams which they currently spend supporting and funding the Corporate Globalican Occupation?
When I talk to myself these days, it’s often about inflation.
I have generally concluded that inflation can and has broken free of economic theory. Price setters see no reason to restrain themselves other than what their market will bear. Not true of everyone, of course, but dramatically prevalent today.
I see that, as money is owned proportionally more and more by the comfortable and the wealthy, many businesses compute that selling at the prices they can probably get from the 10-20 % who shrug their shoulders and pay $5 for the cream cheese that was $3.75 last week (me in this case) is more profitable than trying to serve those with meager to no money.
I see the foundation for our current price increases getting a foundation laid by many practical difficulties during the first two years of the pandemic. Many prices were naturally raised to offset increased cost of inputs and for expediting.
I see the Ukraine action as then so oversold to Americans that sellers realized Americans were sufficiently distracted they could not organize to defend against the new pricing paradigm – raise prices and find the sweet spot.
Joe Biden’s misreading of the effects of his sanctions and the actual effects of the sanctions made clear to most observers that there’s going to be hell to pay – might as well raise prices while the raising is good.
I would say the most consequential stroke against price gouging would be to end the hysteria around our of necessity global partners – Russia and China. And of course follow Kissinger’s advice re ending the contest in Ukraine.
One more comment – re the title of the article:
In chatting with local businesses I find the price raising is absolutely everywhere. My bagel shop says cream cheese has gone up 120% from their deli supplier in the past six months plus a several hundred dollar delivery charge for what was “free”. Local lunch prices in business friendly north San Diego County are almost universally up 50% or they’ve closed up shop.
Excess profits tax, anyone?
From WWI through to the Korean war, Congress passed several excess profits bills. Then in 1991 some members tried to pass one on the large oil companies but it was unsuccessful. Since then, nada. So seventy years since one was enacted.
Today I’m sure that that such a thing would be unthinkable, let alone passable, The aristocracy, those congressional courtiers and their corporate kings, would never and will never allow it.
Wall Street is a major driver of inflation. According to Michael Greenberger (who is a former director of trading at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission), Wall Street speculators are using a CFTC clause called Footnote 563 to engage in speculation on the oil commodities exchange.
The oil brokers, sellers and buyers have been complaining that they are drowned out by a flood of Wall Street banks and private equity “buyers” who come in, bid up the price FAR beyond what the legitimate buyers would pay.
The speculators are using “swaps” through allegedly “offshore” holdings that are allegedly “independent” of the parent firm, but are in fact just dummy companies that bid up the price of oil (and some other commodities) and never take delivery.
This 563 loophole was closed by the Obama administrations’ CFTC directors, but 563 was reopened by Trump. The action is similar to what happened with Enron. Stopping this manipulation would draw oil back down under $90 bbl.
So why hasn’t Biden closed the loophole once again? Is he even aware of it? Or has Pelosi made that a no-go?
I think it is naive to expect any business to leave profits on the table. Of course a corporation will take as much as they can get away with. Hasn’t it always been that way? Despite the high inflation people continue to buy “stuff”, much of it unneeded though desired. As far as grocery inflation goes let’s not forget that a large amount of food is wasted in this country. Perhaps the high food inflation will reduce the amount of food waste. I am increasingly careful in avoiding food waste these days.
“Corporations are greedy” “Corporations are not people”
The contradiction here is total. Greed is a *human* emotion. If they are not people, corporate entities cannot possibly be “greedy” or indeed be characterized by any human or inhuman *emotion*.
Beyond purely semantic considerations, it is simply false to claim that corporations are “greedy.” Greed, as emotion, leads to unlimited accumulation of monetary (or equivalent) wealth. Stock Buybacks, cited as the evidence for corporate “greed,” constitute the exact opposite–the distribution of wealth to (themselves greedy) human capitalists. They also are direct refutation of the notion that corporations “maximize profits”–reinvestment (accumulation) necessarily increases (if only minimally) the corporation’s *amount* of profit even though it may (and in Marxian theory always eventually does) reduce the *rate* of profit on the accumulated total capital.
What corporate capital in fact maximizes is not the economic category “profit” but something far worse–the overwhelming power, the social dominance of the capitalist class, exercised through its total control of the monetary wealth of society via its enforcement mechanism, The State.
It’s not greed. Business schools have been instructing impressionabe young people that cutting costs and maximizing profit is how It is done, whatever the business is. Their time horizon is about as short as the polítican worrying about the next election. We are in the grip of a kind of IA, from the small and mid sized companies to the alogrithms that control the giant pool on money managed by the robots
Nah, it’s more like the serial killer house / feral cat who kills all the birds and rodents in the neighborhood because that’s their job. AND IT’S FUN… for them.
Somehow we have to change the way they are trained, their job descriptions & the rules of the game. We also have to change the policies which create, enable and maintain them.