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Trump Is Killing the Economy Out of Spite – The New York Times

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Last year Donald Trump called Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, a “nasty, vindictive, horrible person.” Actually, she isn’t — but he is.

Trump’s vindictiveness has become a major worry as the election approaches. He has already signaled that he won’t accept the result if he loses, which seems increasingly likely though not certain. Nobody knows what chaos, possibly including violence, he may unleash if the election doesn’t go his way.

Even aside from that concern, however, a defeated Trump would still be president for two and a half months. Would he spend that time acting destructively, in effect taking revenge on America for rejecting him?

Well, we got a preview of what a lame-duck Trump presidency might look like Tuesday. Trump hasn’t even lost yet, but he abruptly cut off talks on an economic relief package millions of Americans desperately need (although as of Thursday he seemed to be backtracking). And his motivation seems to have been sheer spite.

Why do we need economic relief? Despite several months of large employment gains, America has only partly recovered from horrific job losses in the early months of the pandemic — and the pace of recovery has slowed to a relative crawl. All indications are that the economy will remain weak for many months, maybe even years.

Given this grim reality, the federal government should still be providing the kind of relief it offered in the first few months of the crisis: generous aid to the unemployed and loans that help keep small businesses afloat. Otherwise we’ll soon be seeing millions of families unable to pay their rent, hundreds of thousands of businesses going under.

In addition, state and local governments — which, unlike the federal government, are generally required to balance their budgets — are in desperate fiscal straits, because the pandemic slump has drastically reduced their revenues. They need a lot of aid, soon, or they will be forced into deep cuts in employment and services. We’ve already lost around 900,000 jobs in state and local education.

So there’s an overwhelming humanitarian case for major spending on relief: Unless the federal government steps in, there will be huge unnecessary suffering. There’s also a macroeconomic case: If families are forced to slash consumption, if businesses are forced to close and if state and local governments are forced into extreme spending cuts, the economy’s growth will slow and we might even slide back into recession.

I know, I know, the usual suspects will say that the calls for economic relief are just more big-government liberalism. But warnings about the dangers of failing to provide more relief aren’t just coming from progressive Democrats; they’re coming from Wall Street analysts and Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Yet negotiations over relief have been stalled for months, even as special aid to the unemployed and small businesses has expired. The main stumbling block, I’d argue, has been the adamant refusal of Senate Republicans to consider aid to state and local governments; Democrats would probably have agreed to a deal that included significant aid, even though it would have helped Trump politically.

But Republicans have insisted — falsely — that this is all about rescuing badly run blue states. And Trump echoed that falsehood as he pulled the plug on Tuesday, claiming that Pelosi’s proposals are nothing but a bailout of “high crime, poorly run, Democrat States.” (Not that facts matter, but Democratic states actually have lower crime rates, on average, than Republican states.)

The question is, why did Trump choose to reject even the possibility of a deal less than a month before Election Day? True, it’s too late for legislation to make much difference to the state of the economy on Nov. 3, although a deal might have averted some corporate layoffs. But it would surely be in Trump’s political interest to at least look as if he’s trying to help Americans in distress. Why would Trump choose this, of all moments, to torpedo economic policy?

As far as I can tell, nobody has offered a plausible political motive, any way in which refusing even to try rescuing the economy helps Trump’s prospects. What this looks like, instead, is vindictiveness.

I don’t know whether Trump expects to lose the election. But he’s already acting like a deeply embittered man, lashing out at people he feels have treated him unfairly, which is basically everyone. And as usual he reserves special rage for smart, tough women; on Thursday he called Kamala Harris a “monster.”

Yet getting a relief deal would have required accepting a compromise with that “nasty” woman Nancy Pelosi. And it seems that he would rather let the economy burn.

The thing is, if he’s behaving like this now, when he still has some chance of winning, how will he act if he loses?

The most immediate concern is that he won’t accept the election results. But we should also be worried about what will follow if he is forced to accept the will of the people, but is still running the country. Trump has always been vindictive; what will he do if and when he has nothing left but spite?

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

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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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German economy won't be as bad in third quarter as expected, says minister – The Guardian

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German economy won’t be as bad in third quarter as expected, says minister  The Guardian



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A grim milestone and update on pandemic-plagued economy. : In The News for Oct. 28 – Kamloops This Week

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Oct. 28 …

What we are watching in Canada …

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Canada reached a grim and worrying milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths.

Alberta reported two deaths Tuesday from COVID-19 to lift the national tally to 10,001.

COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer, but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs regularly being set through Central and Western Canada.

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first one was reported.

Health Canada recently forecast 10,100 COVID-19 deaths in Canada by Nov. 1 as a worst-case scenario and now that number is close, Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said.

Carr said the increased spread of COVID-19 will result in more opportunities for the virus to infect the elderly and other vulnerable people.

But she said she doesn’t believe imposing further lockdowns on peoples economic and social well-being are the answer.

“We’re sabotaging those businesses and people that are paying the price because they are the ones that have been targeted as part of the solution to stop the spread.,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted today that the COVID-19 pandemic “really sucks” but added that a vaccine is coming.

Also this …

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada will release its updated outlook for the country’s pandemic-plagued economy.

The central bank in July said it believed the country had been spared from a worst-case scenario envisioned in April, but warned things could change.

Governor Tiff Macklem has said a severe second wave of the pandemic, health restrictions that extend beyond December and the timing of a vaccine or other effective treatment could all shift the country’s economic course.

This morning the central bank will provide a more detailed analysis of its forecast for the domestic economy as the country marches through a second wave of COVID-19.

Macklem has said the central bank will keep its key policy rate as low at it can go at 0.25 per cent until the economy has recovered and inflation is back at the bank’s two-per-cent target.

That means experts don’t expect the central bank to change the rate from near-zero when the bank makes its announcement later this morning.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

PHILADELPHIA — The lawyer for the family of a Black man killed by Philadelphia police officers in a shooting caught on video says the family had called for an ambulance to get him help with a mental health crisis, not for police intervention.

Police say 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. was wielding a knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon before officers fired shots Monday afternoon.

Following a second night of arrests and reports of theft in sections of Philadelphia, a White House statement asserted that the unrest was another consequence of what it called “Liberal Democrats’ war against the police.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

Satellite photos show Iran has begun construction at its Natanz nuclear facility.

That’s after the head of the UN’s nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran is building an underground advanced centrifuge assembly plant after its last one exploded in a reported sabotage attack last summer.

Since August, the satellite photos show Iran has built a new or regraded road to the south of Natanz toward what analysts believe is a former firing range for security forces at the enrichment facility.

Analysts from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies say they believe that site is undergoing excavation.

On this day in 2008 …

Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page avoided jail time on drug possession charges provided he seek substance abuse treatment and stay clean for the next six months. Page was charged with drug possession in July after police found cocaine at a Fayetteville, N.Y. apartment. He complied with his probation conditions and the charges were eventually dropped.

In health news …

The Canadian Medical Association says ongoing surgical and diagnostic backlogs will only worsen without immediate government help to address a strained health-care system.

The CMA found average wait-times increased by one-to-two months for the most common procedures in the first wave and it would take $1.3 billion in additional funds to tackle procedures sidelined from January to June because they were deemed non-essential during the pandemic.

A study ordered by the organization looked at the six most commonly delayed procedures: CT and MRI scans, hip and knee replacements, cataract surgeries and coronary artery bypass grafts, which all plummeted in April, when almost no cataract or knee replacements took place.

Although procedures gradually began to rebound in June, the report found more than 270,000 people had their MRI scans — which can detect serious disease or injury — delayed by a national average of nearly eight months, more than seven weeks longer than before the pandemic. Those waiting for knee replacement surgeries had to wait an average of 14 months, about two months longer than before the pandemic.

“The impact on wait times is just going to be the worst-ever in our system,” CMA president Dr. Ann Collins says.

“It’s going to have serious consequences the longer this pandemic goes on.”

ICYMI …

An original member of the Jamaican bobsled team featured in the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings” is imploring whoever stole the nose cone from a sled that appeared in the film to return it to a Calgary bar.

Devon Harris, who is also chairman of the Jamaican Bobsled Federation, says he’s not going to lose sleep over the missing bobsled shell, but is disappointed over the news.

“It’s gone too far now,” Harris says. ‘”Just bring it back.”

Police say the shell was last seen at Ranchman’s country bar last week as it hung outside below the roof of the building. The sled was a gift to to the business by the movie’s production crew after some scenes were filmed there. The bar closed last month.

“Cool Runnings” is loosely based on the true story of the national Jamaican bobsled team’s debut at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

Harris, who lives in New York, says he saw a friend from Calgary post on Facebook about the stolen black bobsled shell with the Jamaican flag colours — black, green and gold — and immediately rolled his eyes.

He says the sled was a gift from a Canadian bobsled team and was later painted for the movie.

“It’s kind of like this work of art that somebody go hide in a basement and they are the only ones who have the opportunities to enjoy it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020

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