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Bad Trade

“Bad competitiveness” results in weakening demand, which either reduces global production or requires surging debt to maintain demand and production at its existing level. Perhaps that rings a bell, because it is the world we live in.

Liberty and Tariffs for All

Free international trade is not a vital tenet of liberty in the American tradition; it was adopted, in Burtka’s words, “for the worst reasons and delivered the worst results.”

Don’t Trade on Me

America grew wealthy not from free trade, but behind some of the world’s most imposing protectionist barriers. In fact, the principal tradition of free trade one finds in American history was born in the Confederate South.

Coming Apart in the Hoosier State

Farah Stockman’s new book, American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears, documents the closure and relocation of an Indianapolis Rexnord bearing plant to Mexico and Texas. Stockman, a New York Times reporter, was assigned to cover the Rexnord plant after then-candidate Trump tweeted about its pending closure and the scheduled relocation of a nearby Carrier plant to Mexico in 2016.

Senator Marco Rubio Delivers the Inaugural Henry Clay Lecture in Political Economy

Sen. Rubio assesses how the flawed bipartisan economic consensus went so tragically wrong and offers a clear-eyed approach to economic policy that can serve the national interest and the common good.

The Cult for Growth

In this week’s Compass Point, Marginal Prophets, Matthew Walther turns his perceptive gaze to the “magical thinking” of neoliberalism, and brings along a delightful guide: 19th-century anthropologist James Frazer, author of The Golden Bough and keen observer of humanity’s superstitious traditions and priestly castes.

Marginal Prophets

Magical thinking is evident in Homo oeconomicus’s serial recital of the “benefits of trade”; his blithe attitude toward financialization and the rise of cheap digital consumer technology; his utter indifference to the economic pressures bearing down upon the working family…

Gimme Shelter

Only the Rich Can Play is an uncomfortable reminder that no matter how much you may appreciate an idea’s intellectual lineage or conceptual clarity, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. It deserves inclusion on political science syllabi as a case study in how a billionaire’s idea can flow from a Davos brainstorming session to Washington’s halls of power and become the law of the land.

The Work-Ethic Welfare State

Lind’s essay marks the launch of a new series, The Compass Point, that will present in-depth commentary from leading scholars and writers on topics vital to the future of conservatism. Expect them most Fridays over the next couple of months.

The Government Should Keep Its Hands Off Your Medicare

The path to a more secure and generous American welfare state lies not in rejecting the work ethic and the distinction it makes between contributory social insurance and non-contributory social assistance, but rather in embracing it.

The American Dream Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Misunderstood

In order to fulfill your dreams, you must aspire to be what you desire. That is the American Dream, to me. And I think some people don’t understand what fulfilling that American Dream can take.

How to Put Woke Capital Out of Business

Ramaswamy sees what so many establishment conservatives and libertarians refuse to see: in the eyes of the woke Left, we on the Right are all racists who should be made untouchables.

Critics Corner with Jon Hartley

On this episode of Critics Corner, Oren is joined by Jon Hartley, a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and a former senior policy advisor to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

America Should Bring Back a Financial Transaction Tax

American Compass policy director Chris Griswold makes the case for a financial transaction tax in the United States.

Moving Beyond Surviving to Thriving

I fear we live in a world where we assume people don’t want better for themselves or are simply taking advantage of resources due to lack of motivation. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

The New Trustbusters

In a discussion of the new antitrust movement, Zaid Jilani highlights American Compass executive director Oren Cass’s perspective on the conservative approach to corporate power.

New Policy Proposals for Pro-Investment Financial Market Regulation

PRESS RELEASE—A financial transaction tax and other key reforms would confront Coin-Flip Capitalism and shift capital toward productive investment.

A Guide to Private Equity

An in-depth exploration of the private-equity industry: how it works, its poor performance, and its increasing risk.

Confronting Coin-Flip Capitalism

This paper presents the case for policymakers who favor free markets and appreciate the value of a well-functioning financial system to reform the rules governing that system.

No Need to Speculate

Opponents of a financial transaction tax seem less intent on persuading than on covering for the generic impulse that financial markets shall not be impinged upon. That impulse should be resisted.

Coin-Flip Capitalism

Coin-Flip Capitalism aims to help policymakers and the public better understand how the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital industries function, what social and economic value they create or destroy, and how policy should respond.

We’re Just Speculating Here…

Most of what we call investment, by contrast, entails merely the buying and selling of assets on the secondary market—piles of cash and securities trade hands, but no one builds anything.

Has the Financial Sector Become a Drag on the Real Economy?

American Compass’s Oren Cass, in dialogue with Oaktree Capital’s Howard Marks, discusses the negative effects of the growth of the U.S. financial sector.

The Consultant Class Scores an Own Goal

With every step away towards a pure market logic and away from physical communities and lived-in traditions, the sporting world will find that the magic and allure of what has made them so compelling start to disappear.

How Wall Street Took Over Our Economy

Varun Hukeri features American Compass’s We’re Just Speculating Here research on financialization and falling U.S. investment.

Fulfillment: A Conversation on Amazon and Regional Inequality with Alec MacGillis

Fulfillment author Alec MacGillis joins American Compass research director Wells King for a conversation exploring what the growth of Amazon means for the future of inequality in the U.S., the pros and cons of “one-click America,” and how policymakers and consumers should respond.

Oren Cass Joins Tucker Carlson To Discuss Wall Street Investment

American Compass executive director Oren Cass joined Tucker Carlson to discuss our recent research on trends in U.S. investment and the growth of the financial sector.

Oren Cass Reveals Truth Behind Wall Street’s Claim That They Add Value To US Economy

Executive director Oren Cass joins Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball to discuss the declining rate of nationwide investments.

Wall Street’s Fixation on Quick Profits Wreaking Havoc in the ‘Real’ Economy, Report Says

Christopher Ingraham features We’re Just Speculating Here writing that U.S. businesses are prioritizing shareholder profits over long-term investments, and the economy’s worse off for it.

New Report: Most U.S. Companies Send Cash to Shareholders at Expense of Capital Base

PRESS RELEASE—In an economic transformation over past 50 years, “Eroders” have overtaken “Sustainers,” according to a new report by American Compass executive director Oren Cass.

The US Needs to Rediscover the Meaning of Investment

American Compass executive director Oren Cass makes the case that fortunes are made in financial markets without benefiting the real economy.

The Corporate Erosion of Capitalism

This report provides a systematic, firm-level study of declining business investment and the shift among American corporation toward disgorging cash to shareholders.

The Rise of Wall Street and the Fall of American Investment

Confusion over the nature of investment is pervasive among economic policymakers and commentators, has bled into the popular culture, and threatens the nation’s future prosperity.

New Analysis Finds Hedge Funds and Private Equity Failed to Beat the COVID Crash

PRESS RELEASE—The latest Returns Counter update highlights the failures of coin-flip capitalism during the COVID-19 market crash in the first two quarters of 2020.

Coin-Flip Capitalism: Q2 2021 Update

A review of hedge fund and private equity performance through the COVID-19 market crash.

The Returns Counter (Q1 2020)

Archive of Returns Counter data as of Q1 2021

The Returns Counter

Comprehensive benchmarking of the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital industries against public-market indexes, updated quarterly.

L’Affaire GameStop

The stampede into GameStop and other stocks was a political event. Like antifa assaults on government building and the mob assault on the White House, the investment strategy hatched on Read more…

Trade After Trump: A Post-Mortem with Former USTR Robert Lighthizer

Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer joins American Compass executive director Oren Cass for a conversation about his work as the U.S. Trade Representative, the overhaul of America’s economic relationship with China, successes achieved and lessons learned, and key challenges facing the Biden administration.

GameStop: Intentionally Dying

Our country, we tell ourselves, is a place where anyone can make it if they study enough, and where the smartest rise to the top. Grow up in a sad town with only empty lots where factories used to be? Hit the books, spend your days in the library memorizing dates, equations, and working out that brain.

Respect the People

Like every banker, I remember my first bail-out fondly. Mine was January 1995 and I was working for Salomon Brothers bond trading business, and we, like all of Wall Street, had gotten ourselves out over our skis.

The Returns Counter (Q4 2019)

Comprehensive benchmarking of the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital industries against public-market indexes, updated quarterly.

The Returns Counter (Q3 2019)

Archive of Returns Counter data as of Q3 2020

Coin-Flip Capitalism: Q4 2020 Update

A review of the latest developments in private finance and the latest update to the Returns Counter.

A Free Market Manifesto That Changed the World, Reconsidered

American Compass’s Oren Cass joins a wide range of economists and business leaders to discuss Milton Friedman’s essay, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” on its 50th anniversary.

Financialization in America

In this episode, Washington Free Beacon editor Aaron Sibarium and small business investor Sam Long discuss the financialization of American business culture and its impacts on our economy and society.

Monopolization as a Challenge for Both Parties

Two Federal Reserve economists have just come out with a paper on the social consequences of widespread monopolization of markets by large corporations.

Oren Cass Presses Business Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility Pledge

American Compass’s Oren Cass discusses an open letter sent to the Business Roundtable calling for corporate actual responsibility.

Open Letter Re: the Business Roundtable’s Commitment to Corporate Actual Responsibility

After a year of empty promises from CEOs, a Left-Right coalition propose a framework for substantive action

Left-Right Coalition Releases Open Letter to Business Roundtable on Corporate Actual Responsibility

After a year of empty promises from CEOs, the groups propose a framework for substantive action.

Corporate Actual Responsibility, with Sen. Josh Hawley

Senator Josh Hawley talks with American Compass executive director Oren Cass about the empty platitudes and hypocrisy of “woke capital” and why conservatives must work to prioritize the needs of workers and families in their economic policy agenda.

Constraining the Corporation

Business leaders have lost contact with the communities and institutions that might hold them accountable, escaped from the oversight and regulation that would channel their activities, and proven themselves shameless in the face of whatever weak standards of decency the culture still attempts to muster.

Case Studies in Corporate Actual Responsibility

Four American companies demonstrate how to fulfill corporate obligations without sacrificing corporate performance.

Q&A with MIT’s Zeynep Ton

Good jobs benefit workers and boost corporate performance, so why aren’t there more of them?

Corporate Actual Responsibility: A Conversation with Senator Josh Hawley

Senator Josh Hawley talks with American Compass executive director Oren Cass about the empty platitudes and hypocrisy of “woke capital” and why conservatives must work to prioritize the needs of workers and families in their economic policy agenda.

Corporate Actual Responsibility

Holding corporations accountable for their obligations to workers, their families and communities, and the nation.

Private Equity Captures Rather Than Creates Value

American Compass’s Oren Cass debates University of Chicago professor Todd Henderson over the question, “Does the private equity industry create substantial social value?”

Three Cheers for Capitalism

How should businesses balance shareholder interests with obligations to their workers, communities, and nation?

Corporate Profits Amid Communal Decay

How should businesses balance shareholder interests with obligations to their workers, communities, and nation?

Coin-Flip Capitalism: Q3 2020 Update

Commentary on developments in private finance and the Coin-Flip Capitalism debate as of Q3 2020

Corporations Do Good by Doing Well

How should businesses balance shareholder interests with obligations to their workers, communities, and nation?

Ordering Obligations for the Common Good

How should businesses balance shareholder interests with obligations to their workers, communities, and nation?

The Corporate Obligations Debate

Patrick Deneen and Andy Puzder debate the obligations of business.

Obligations, Yes, But Secondary Ones

How should businesses balance shareholder interests with obligations to their workers, communities, and nation?

The “Enormous Social Value” of Private-Equity Fees

The Wall Street Journal’s defense of private equity (“Populists Don’t Know Much About Private Equity”) is an impressionist masterpiece of market fundamentalism, relying on the unexamined assumption that fees paid to private-equity partners represent “social value.” One can simply step back and gawk in amazement, but true appreciation requires poring over each brushstroke.

If Only Private Funds Still Enabled American Power

Grant Kettering’s critique of Coin-Flip Capitalism defends private finance as “a major competitive advantage and source of comprehensive national power.”

What are America’s Pensioners Getting from Private Equity?

Imagine a schoolteacher in a mid-sized American city. She earns approximately $60,000 per year and each month contributes somewhere between 6 and 12 percent of her wages to the state’s public employee pension plan. Given her salary and associated living expenses, a robust personal savings plan seems out of the question. For the teacher – and the firefighter, the police officer, and many other public employees – pension benefits are the only hope for financial security in retirement.

Private Funds Could Be Your Friends

The basic motivation behind American Compass’s Coin-Flip Capitalism project seems to be scrutinizing the private fund industry—an industry that is indeed poorly understood by most—under the suspicion that, amidst its mysteries and its trillions, it may be detracting from our national welfare. Fair enough.

What About the Rotten Culture of the Rich?

We used to joke on Wall Street that you should marry a trader at another firm, trade with only each other, and by end of the year one would have Read more…

The Returns Counter (Q2 2019)

Archive of Returns Counter data as of Q2 2020

Returns Counter Methodology

Sources and methodology for the Coin-Flip Capitalism Returns Counter.

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