Accountable Capitalism Act

It’s called the Accountable Capitalism Act.   Here’s the bill text.

Yves Smith has a take on this…lots of talk in the news econ sections:

Elizabeth Warren introduced her Accountable Capitalism Act in the Senate yesterday and set forth the logic of her bill in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. The Massachusetts senator described how as recently as the early 1980s, even conservative groups acknowledged publicly that corporations were responsible to employees and communities as well as to shareholders. And as we’ve written, and is implicit in the Warren article, there is no such thing as a legal obligation to “maximize shareholder value”. It’s simply an ideology that has become widely accepted, even as some of its most prominent advocates, such as Harvard’s Michael Jensen, have since renounced it. But this practice has become so deeply embedded and so damaging that it will apparently take a change in rules, or at least a credible and live threat to do so, to change behavior in boardrooms and the C-suite.

We documented in the early 2000s that the cost of shareholder-fixated short-termimsm was that corporations as a whole were net saving, as in not investing, which was a disturbing departure from long-establihed norms. Corporate priorities have become even more warped in the post-crisis era as companies borrowed to buy back stock.

Warren highlights how “shareholders come first” doesn’t look to have been very positive for anyone save corporate execs who have asymmetrical pay deals. They get paid handsomely even in the face of so-so to lousy performance, and are paid egregiously if results are good.1