How Stock Buybacks Fuel the Racial Wealth Gap

Lenore Palladino explains how stock buybacks drive inequality, and why we desperately need a policy shift.

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Palladino highlights how these unregulated practices, booming since the 1980s, not only manipulate market prices but also significantly influence the racial wealth gap in the United States. She explains that shareholder primacy, a doctrine deeply embedded in corporate law, prioritizes increasing share prices over other aspects of corporate responsibility. This focus disproportionately benefits wealthy, predominantly white households, who own most corporate equity, exacerbating the racial wealth gap. Moreover, she criticizes the extensive funds spent on stock buybacks, around $6.3 trillion in the 2010s, which could otherwise enhance corporate productivity and worker wages. Palladino advocates for regulatory changes and new legislation to address these issues, emphasizing the importance of industrial policy-making and investment in public welfare over shareholder gains. Her insights offer a critical perspective on the intersection of corporate practices, market manipulation, and social inequality.

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