America's CEOs and hedge-funds are starving the nation's corporations to death

Exactly! Carly Fiorina was the first big one - completely disconnected from the company, acted like she was some sort of rock star/celebrity, etc…
She and people like her set that stage for these dopes and the way they expect the whole world to genuflect in their general direction.

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Nah, there was Michael Capellas at Compaq at roughly the same time (1999 on). You know - he of the rock star front cover (complete with electric guitar) on BusinessWeek.

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Serving customers, [etc. etc.] taking care of the environment … are NOT the objectives of firms.

I feel like there’s some kind of cognitive dissonance that goes on, where people who would probably say very emphatically that corporations are not people and should not be treated as such, then go ahead and personify them by assigning them attributes such as intent, objectives, mindset. I get that it’s a legal argument as well but I feel like we should always make an effort to describe corporate behaviour as a result of the personal objectives and actions of CEOs and stakeholders, rather than as if they are great malevolent monoliths.

So IBM spent more money on dividends than it did on R&D, is that somehow supposed to make it better?

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It’s all gig economy over my way, for sure. My personality is not suited to bureaucracy, and my skills are suited to freelancing and project work, so I consider myself lucky. At the same time, though, it’s good that I don’t have expensive tastes, or children.

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This is one of those “assuming the other person is innumerate because (s)he disagreed with you” answers which make discourse on the internet trying. I understand how stock transactions work, and how stock buybacks work. They are not the same as dividends for several reasons. First of all, you don’t get a choice about a dividend. A check just arrives. And as jeff_fisher pointed out, you pay regular income tax on dividends, not capital gains tax. I suspect this is why we don’t see dividends anymore, actually. Saying that they are economically equivalent is just glossing over all the complexities.

Just one example: a stock buyback isn’t N shares. It is N dollars. The number of shares bought depends on the market price of the shares. So if you say you’re going to buy back stock, the price could increase on that information, triggering a profit-taking selloff that winds up ultimately lowering the price of the stock. Investors who have better access to market information can take advantage of that to make profits that regular stockholders will not be able to realize. What is nice about dividends is that everybody gets the same deal. But since dividends are taxed at a much higher rate than capital gains, we wind up with just one more way that small players are disadvantaged.

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Which is why I said “a dividend where the stock holder has an option to either (a) take the dividend - at ordinary income tax rates - or (b) reinvest the stock into the company, except that it saves the trouble of the long(er) term investor of buying more stock.” I didn’t say “an ordinary dividend”, I qualified it rather extensively.

Moreover, I didn’t “assume you were innumerate”, I was showing my work (i.e., “here are my assumptions, I’m happy to have a discussion” - which is the sort of point of discourse)

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As the large companies eat themselves from within, smaller, smarter, and more agile business models will continue to succeed. But the death throws of 70’s economic ideas and 80’s greed will be painfully felt for years to come.

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Yes, but I have to say, this has been written clearly enough that any layman with a reasonable intelligence can understand it. This is the core of the problem, and if one can read, one has no excuse for continuing the lies about corporate “values” and CEO worth.

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Oh I have been stuck in the hell of that culture for 17+ years now. It is crazy what companies do internally.

One of the big drivers for IT outsourcing is they just see it as a cost and never internally bill it right. It didn’t surprise me that I eventually got to do my exact same job with another company giving me the paycheck after years of major income generator saying to internal cost generator (at least on the books) do this new thing, do this more stuff, no you can’t charge more for it. The IT side finally punted to ‘these guys will actually be able to say NO, or hey that is extra $$$’ for us.

Now I am working for a group that has some retained stuff cause the application does not play on a WAN and nobody wants to touch servers off in a closet at the remote site. I kinda boggled there were no recurring charges to the customers, just the initial cost of setting up the app for them. Nothing to account for application upkeep, fixing issues they have that require vendor support, general upkeep of the servers needed to run the application, keeping the application patched and up to date, etc. The only “income” is a chase for NEW CUSTOMERS with no clue that there are only so many of them before oops now how do we support this. It boggles me that management can’t grok the basic fact that customer growth will only go so far in a limited environment.

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Sure, but how many of those people with the specialized knowledge stay in the same job for a long period of time. I’ve been working in a labor archive this semester, and so I’ve been listening to some labor oral histories. I’m struck by how many of them worked in the same place for much of their careers, in part because they had some job stability and protections thanks in part to the Union putting pressure on corporations and the government. One can both have a career that pays well, and still be subject to various forms of job insecurity, including the expectation that one should move on to greener fields often. That, at least for white collar or well-paid blue collar work, is a rather novel development which goes along with the ideology of the gig economy.

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Sure. I don’t disagree. Let’s say there’s a spectrum, with lifetime employment at one job at one end, and Taskrabbit at the other end. I think you’re describing something in the middle. When I think of “gig economy,” I think of stuff at or near the Taskrabbit end.

Oh I got asked this a lot during the dot boom days. When I heard what some people were getting it was tempting then when at a turkey day dinner with MrsTobinLs workmates and hearing about the hours they put in I realized the extra $$$ was not worth giving up working with a group big enough that on call rotation was not a big problem and barring late day emergencies I would go home at 5pm every day, could count on having a weekend free, and any time over the regular hours we had the choice of taking overtime or just taking a short day afterwards.

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Right, but this term is also an evolving one, I’d argue - I don’t even think it was in wide usage even a couple of years ago. It’s a developing ideology that workers should have input into defining. Plus, if this sort of work seems like it can lead to more profitability, more corporations will latch on to it and widen job instability even more. Again, this might work fine for some, but when it becomes the primary mode of operation for the majority of the economy, that might lead to serious problems down the road.

We should think hard about the pros and cons of movement from job to job and talk about and address those now, I’d say.

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The Cayman Islands will be full of billionaires paying each other $100K to make a latte

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Heh. Yeah, it’s going to be a funny place. At least until the Mafia arrives.

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You have to be far on the left to consider wages “investment”

Yes. There’s an increasing tendency to treat workers, at whatever level, like dirt. I’ve been doing what I’m doing for a good while, and am increasingly shocked by the treatment I see.

Sounds like your broker was somehow ignorant of the maxim “buy low, sell high.” Which is weird, because that’s kind of the most fundamental particle of investment.

I wonder how much of the market’s activity is amplified beyond reason by ignorant bandwagoneers… My guess is “a whole fucking lot.”

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Not really. We hoi polloi don’t have enough dollars to move the market. The big players are all AI now.

I’ve seen this a lot in the financial world, actually. These are people (and companies) who consider themselves “conservative”, which just like in the political sense now means “reactionary” instead. They are afraid of change, so they react without thinking. It’s panic mode, really. And yeah, it’s at least partly to blame for a lot of the financial messes we’ve gotten into over the years (including the Great Depression).

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