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Building a stakeholder economy – Brookings Institution

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Norms and expectations of what corporations should do are changing rapidly. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable, an influential club of the chief executives of major U.S. corporations, announced a new statement on the “Purpose of a Corporation”. Signed by 181 CEOs, the statement of purpose called for a departure from “shareholder primacy” to “stakeholderism” as a core principle of corporate governance, with the CEOs committing to “lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders”.

This change of heart in corporate America is a belated response to the decades-old critique and activism against shareholder-primacy. Preoccupation with quarterly profits is blamed for making corporations short-sighted, leading to environmental pollution, income inequalities, weakening workers’ rights, and lower capital investments—all of which are believed to undermine social cohesion and long-term competitiveness. Stakeholderism, also called stakeholder economy/capitalism by the World Economic Forum, is expected to encourage a long-term orientation by rebalancing the asymmetric power of shareholders vis-à-vis other stakeholders, and revitalize the legitimacy of business.

A sizable share of corporations already practice some form of stakeholderism in response to pressure from value-conscious investors, consumers, and others. More than 80 percent of large corporations, for example, claim to explicitly contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Environment, social, and governance (ESG) investing—a class of value-based investments that target corporations that meet minimum ESG criteria—has been growing rapidly, with an estimated total value of $45 trillion in assets under management.

Ambiguous definitions, mixed results

But stakeholderism has had mixed success. While some companies have managed to create environmental and social value, many engage in “greenwashing” or “impact washing” to mask their unsustainable performances. This is in part due to a mismatch between a renewed corporate purpose that emphasizes stakeholder value, and corporate governance principles and incentive structures that are primarily designed to maximize shareholder returns. Even as corporations make commitments to take greater societal and environmental roles, they often fail to change their governance guidelines and board structures to reflect these intentions. This has resulted in a dissonance between what they aspire to achieve and what they can show for it—a process that can also undo the legitimacy of the emerging stakeholder economy.

This is due to a lack of consensus on how corporate governance should adapt to help build a stakeholder economy, due in part to a lack of clarity on who qualifies as a stakeholder as well as what stakeholder value entails. Think of Facebook, with almost 3 billion users, or Boeing, with thousands of customer airlines and hundreds of millions of passenger users, all of whom would qualify as stakeholders. Without specificity on what value a company creates, for which stakeholder and how, a generic commitment to advance stakeholder interests has little practical meaning.

It is also feared that the ambiguity of stakeholderism could enable corporate leaders to amass too much discretionary power that would enable them to dodge shareholder oversight. A vague commitment to all stakeholders could also undermine long-term competitiveness if managers set out to meet multiple goals that are incompatible with one another. Further, implausibly high expectations can end up making managers risk-averse, forcing them to settle for a minimum acceptable performance for all stakeholders rather than excelling in specific issues where they have greater competitiveness. A vague and broad focus on stakeholder value could thus make shareholders and other societal stakeholders worse off.

Needed: Institutional Reform

These critiques, however, do not warrant the conclusion that building a stakeholder economy is an impossible agenda. A growing body of scholarly work, including a recent British Academy report, has documented that building a stakeholder economy requires extensive reforms of market institutions to incentive the creation of long-term corporate and social value. At a minimum, such a reform would include three ingredients.

  • Renewed corporate purpose. This is best defined by the directors of individual businesses, who should specify the stakeholders to whom the businesses will create value, and how this will be achieved. This facilitates effective corporate governance by providing clearly defined goals, and the mechanism for aligning them with corporate strategy. A study by professors Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales suggests that organizational purpose anchored in maximizing shareholder welfare can help link corporate strategy with stakeholder value. To the extent that shareholders care about certain non-financial outcomes, such as environmental sustainability, the purpose of the corporation should be geared towards producing these outcomes. Corporations can then communicate their performance via third-party verified reports to demonstrate if and how they have created the desired outcomes to their stakeholders.
  • Corporate law reform. Corporate law needs to incentivize directors to take responsibility for the company’s long-term interests, including its social and environmental impacts. Corporate law in many countries is anchored on the principle of shareholder primacy, creating legal challenges for firms that adopt a broader conception of purpose. A recent study commissioned by the European Union underscored the need to modify corporate law to foster the pursuit of long-term corporate goals and environmental sustainability by corporate directors. Another positive development is the emergence of legal innovations for new corporate entities with governance structures designed for addressing long-term societal issues. More than 30 states in the U.S. have introduced legal mechanisms for “benefit corporations” that pursue a hybrid mission of creating financial and social/environmental value. Similar innovations could facilitate investments into corporate innovations for addressing social and environmental problems.
  • Complementary regulations.  Stakeholderism should not be expected to substitute for the regulation of negative environmental and social externalities. Many of the issues that currently fall within ESG domain are in fact negative societal and environmental externalities that are not suited for self-regulation by markets. Effective regulation of externalities, such as CO2 emissions, can also level out the playing field by penalizing the distorting effects of non-compliance. In a positive development, the European Commission has recently started to develop a legal framework for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence, which is expected to outline corporate directors’ duties “not to do harm”.

Building a stakeholder economy requires breaking the artificial boundaries that isolate purpose from performance and creating incentive structures that make corporations drivers of sustainable prosperity. This will entail systematic effort to rewire market and regulatory institutions to ensure that they serve the long-term interests of society.

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‘No plan’ for economy will work without more access to COVID-19 tests, vaccines: O’Toole – Global News

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Canada will not see economic stability until there is wide access to rapid tests and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole says.

O’Toole made the remarks during a press conference Sunday morning.

“There is no plan for the economy if we don’t have rapid testing and vaccines as swiftly as possible,” he told reporters.

Read more:
Canada ‘in the top 5’ on list to receive coronavirus vaccines 1st: minister

O’Toole’s comments come as the federal Liberal government prepares to release a fall economic update on Monday.

The government has not tabled a budget for this fiscal year, but in July delivered what it called a “fiscal snapshot” that estimated the deficit was heading for a record of $343.2 billion.

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Ottawa to deliver long-awaited economic update amid pandemic


Ottawa to deliver long-awaited economic update amid pandemic

O’Toole said there can’t be a “full economy, a growing economy, people working, people being productive without the tools to keep that happening in a pandemic.

“Those two tools are rapid tests and a vaccine,” he said.

O’Toole said Canada is “months behind our allies” when it comes to the large-scale rollout and use of rapid COVID-19 tests.

Health Canada has approved more than three dozen different tests for COVID-19, but only six of them are “point-of-care” versions more commonly referred to as rapid tests.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Millions of rapid tests have been delivered to the provinces, however, health officials have been slow to utilize them as questions about best use and reliability remain unanswered.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: LeBlanc says Canada is in top five to get COVID-19 vaccine'



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Coronavirus: LeBlanc says Canada is in top five to get COVID-19 vaccine


Coronavirus: LeBlanc says Canada is in top five to get COVID-19 vaccine

O’Toole also said it appears as though Canada will be “months behind our allies on vaccines.”

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“These are critical tools,” he said. “The vaccine is the hope we’re all looking for.”

Canada has signed contracts to secure 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, however, the federal government says only six million of those doses — enough to vaccinate three million people — will be in the country by early January for distribution once approved by Health Canada.

However, both the United States and Britain have said they expect to have millions of vaccine doses by next month and expect to have larger portions of their populations inoculated more quickly.

Read more:
Coronavirus cases are soaring but Trudeau’s approval ratings hold steady: Ipsos

O’Toole said Canadians are going to be “rightly frustrated” when other countries are “rolling out millions of doses” of COVID-19 vaccines before Canada.

“I hate to see us trailing,” O’Toole said. “I don’t compare ourselves to the worst response, I want Canada’s response to be the best, that’s why I want to see a plan and I want to see a plan for the economy — we need to get people working.”


Click to play video 'Canada ‘needs a more ambitious procurement program’: Saskatchewan premier on COVID-19 vaccine'



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Canada ‘needs a more ambitious procurement program’: Saskatchewan premier on COVID-19 vaccine


Canada ‘needs a more ambitious procurement program’: Saskatchewan premier on COVID-19 vaccine

O’Toole is not the only one who appears to be frustrated. In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said it is “troubling” that only a small segment of the Canadian population could be vaccinated immediately.

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Moe said the federal government communicated to the country’s premiers how many doses they would receive, adding that the first round of doses will likely treat about 100,000 people in Saskatchewan.

“We need to receive more and we need to receive it in a much more timely fashion,” he said.

Moe said Canada needs a “more ambitious procurement program for sure.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada’s lack of domestic manufacturing capabilities for the highly sought-after coronavirus vaccines — several of which use brand new mRNA technology — means it will be slightly further back in the queue than countries that produce the vaccines domestically.

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Still, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said on The West Block on Sunday that Canada is still positioned to be in the “top five” in the global queue for vaccines.

— With a file from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Economy

China says official manufacturing PMI for November is 52.1 — beating expectations – CNBC

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Workers producing dolls in a factory in Lianyungang, China’s Jiangsu province.
Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

China said on Monday that manufacturing activity expanded for the ninth straight month in November as the world’s second-largest economy continues to recover from a slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for November came in at 52.1, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That’s the highest reading in more than three years, as well as better than the 51.5 forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll and October’s official reading of 51.4.

PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that signal contraction. PMI readings are sequential and show month-on-month expansion or contraction.

The November data showed that the recovery in China’s vast manufacturing sector has accelerated, according to CNBC’s translation of the statistics bureau’s Mandarin-language statement.

Four factors drove manufacturing activity in November, according to Zhao Qinghe, the bureau’s senior statistician.

  • Both supply and demand of Chinese manufactured goods have continued to improve;
  • Imports and exports have also steadily recovered;
  • Prices of both raw materials and output have risen;
  • Prospects of manufacturers of all sizes have improved.

China also released PMI data for the services sector, which similarly showed that activity expanded for the ninth straight month. The official non-manufacturing PMI reading for November was 56.4, compared with 56.2 in October, data by the statistics bureau showed.

Overall, China said its composite PMI for this month came in at 55.7 — inching up from October’s 55.3.

‘Steady and stable recovery’

Analysts said the latest set of economic indicators point to a pick up in China’s economic growth.

“When we look at the data front in China, it’s been showing steady and stable recovery,” Jackson Wong, asset management director at Amber Hill Capital, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday after the release of the official PMI data.

Wong said the Asian economic giant is expected to continue on the same path into next year, and could be the only major economy to register growth this year.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at consultancy Capital Economics, pointed out that the most “significant development” in China recently is a recovery in household spending. That’s likely to continue given a tightening labor market and improving consumer sentiment, he explained.

“That should further support the rebound in services activity. It should also boost manufacturing, which will continue to benefit too from supportive fiscal policy and strong foreign demand,” he wrote in a note following the official PMI data release.

China, where cases of Covid-19 were first detected, is among the few economies expected to continue growing this year — but at a much slow pace. The International Monetary Fund has forecast the Chinese economy to expand by 1.9% in 2020, slowing from the 6.1% last year.

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‘No plan’ for economy will work without more access to COVID-19 tests, vaccines: O’Toole – Global News

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 on


Canada will not see economic stability until there is wide access to rapid tests and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole says.

O’Toole made the remarks during a press conference Sunday morning.

“There is no plan for the economy if we don’t have rapid testing and vaccines as swiftly as possible,” he told reporters.

Read more:
Canada ‘in the top 5’ on list to receive coronavirus vaccines 1st: minister

O’Toole’s comments come as the federal Liberal government prepares to release a fall economic update on Monday.

The government has not tabled a budget for this fiscal year, but in July delivered what it called a “fiscal snapshot” that estimated the deficit was heading for a record of $343.2 billion.

Story continues below advertisement


Click to play video 'Ottawa to deliver long-awaited economic update amid pandemic'



2:24
Ottawa to deliver long-awaited economic update amid pandemic


Ottawa to deliver long-awaited economic update amid pandemic

O’Toole said there can’t be a “full economy, a growing economy, people working, people being productive without the tools to keep that happening in a pandemic.

“Those two tools are rapid tests and a vaccine,” he said.

O’Toole said Canada is “months behind our allies” when it comes to the large-scale rollout and use of rapid COVID-19 tests.

Health Canada has approved more than three dozen different tests for COVID-19, but only six of them are “point-of-care” versions more commonly referred to as rapid tests.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Millions of rapid tests have been delivered to the provinces, however, health officials have been slow to utilize them as questions about best use and reliability remain unanswered.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: LeBlanc says Canada is in top five to get COVID-19 vaccine'



9:26
Coronavirus: LeBlanc says Canada is in top five to get COVID-19 vaccine


Coronavirus: LeBlanc says Canada is in top five to get COVID-19 vaccine

O’Toole also said it appears as though Canada will be “months behind our allies on vaccines.”

Story continues below advertisement

“These are critical tools,” he said. “The vaccine is the hope we’re all looking for.”

Canada has signed contracts to secure 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, however, the federal government says only six million of those doses — enough to vaccinate three million people — will be in the country by early January for distribution once approved by Health Canada.

However, both the United States and Britain have said they expect to have millions of vaccine doses by next month and expect to have larger portions of their populations inoculated more quickly.

Read more:
Coronavirus cases are soaring but Trudeau’s approval ratings hold steady: Ipsos

O’Toole said Canadians are going to be “rightly frustrated” when other countries are “rolling out millions of doses” of COVID-19 vaccines before Canada.

“I hate to see us trailing,” O’Toole said. “I don’t compare ourselves to the worst response, I want Canada’s response to be the best, that’s why I want to see a plan and I want to see a plan for the economy — we need to get people working.”


Click to play video 'Canada ‘needs a more ambitious procurement program’: Saskatchewan premier on COVID-19 vaccine'



9:25
Canada ‘needs a more ambitious procurement program’: Saskatchewan premier on COVID-19 vaccine


Canada ‘needs a more ambitious procurement program’: Saskatchewan premier on COVID-19 vaccine

O’Toole is not the only one who appears to be frustrated. In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said it is “troubling” that only a small segment of the Canadian population could be vaccinated immediately.

Story continues below advertisement

Moe said the federal government communicated to the country’s premiers how many doses they would receive, adding that the first round of doses will likely treat about 100,000 people in Saskatchewan.

“We need to receive more and we need to receive it in a much more timely fashion,” he said.

Moe said Canada needs a “more ambitious procurement program for sure.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada’s lack of domestic manufacturing capabilities for the highly sought-after coronavirus vaccines — several of which use brand new mRNA technology — means it will be slightly further back in the queue than countries that produce the vaccines domestically.

Story continues below advertisement

Still, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said on The West Block on Sunday that Canada is still positioned to be in the “top five” in the global queue for vaccines.

— With a file from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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