William Lazonick is professor of economics at University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is also visiting professor at University of Ljubljana, professeur associé at Institut Mines-Télécom in Paris, and professorial research associate, SOAS, University of London. He is co-founder and president of the Academic-Industry Research Network, a 501(c)(3) research organization. Previously, he was on the faculties of Harvard University, Columbia University, INSEAD, and University of Tokyo. His book Sustainable Prosperity in the New Economy? Business Organization and High-Tech Employment in the United States (Upjohn Institute 2009) won the 2010 Schumpeter Prize. His article “Profits Without Prosperity: Stock Buybacks Manipulate the Market and Leave Most Americans Worse Off,” earned the HBR McKinsey Award for outstanding article in Harvard Business Review in 2014. His most recent papers include “Stock Buybacks: From Retain-and-Reinvest to Downsize-and-Distribute”; “Innovative Enterprise or Sweatshop Economics? In Search of Foundations of Economic Analysis”; “U.S. Pharma’s Business Model: Why It Is Broken and How It Can Be Fixed” (see submissions #1 and #2 to the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines); and “The Mismeasure of Mammon: The Uses and Abuses of Executive Pay Data.”.” His recent research has been funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Ford Foundation, and European Commission. Lazonick has a BCom from University of Toronto, MSc in economics from London School of Economics, a PhD in economics from Harvard University, and an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University. In December 2016 Lazonick will receive an honorary doctorate from University of Ljubljana.
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The New York Times is having a “Room For Debate” discussion on its Opinion Page about how corporations should handle profits based on the Harvard Business Review article “Profits Without Prosperity” by William Lazonick of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, who is a grantee of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. The discussion features contributions by Bruce Greenwald, Peter Thiel, and Lazonick, among others. Lazonick argues that the capital being used for stock buybacks would be better spent on investment. Lazonick’s “Room For Debate” piece is below. To read the full discussion on The New York Times, click here.
A nation must accumulate a high-tech knowledge base to prosper.
Profits Without Prosperity: How Stock Buybacks Manipulate the Market, and Leave Most Americans Worse Off
Five years after the end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the apparent prosperity.
Background paper for a presentation to the Seattle University School of Law Berle IV Symposiun, “The Future of Financial/Securities Markets,” London June 14-15, 2012.