William Lazonick & Ken Jacobson

William Lazonick, UMass emeritus professor of economics and Open Society Fellow, is president of the Academic-Industry Research Network and a grantee of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. 

Ken Jacobson, an industry journalist and former congressional staffer, is communications director of The Academic-Industry Research Network. 

Recent Articles

How Stock Buybacks Undermine Sustainable Prosperity

The debate over buybacks is a debate over how to create more broadly shared prosperity. Here’s why their defenders’ arguments are flat-out wrong.

The debate on the role of stock buybacks in the performance of the U.S. economy is heating up. There are executives , journalists , and academics who, like us , argue that corporation’s repurchases of shares on the open market —the vast majority of buybacks—do great damage to the economy because they undermine stable and equitable growth. On the other side is a growing chorus of executives , journalists , and academics who insist that buybacks, like dividends, improve U.S. economic performance because the shareholders who receive these distributions inevitably put them to use “somewhere” in the economy. In a recent New York Times op-ed , Joshua Bolten, chief executive of Business Roundtable, and Ken Bertsch, executive director of the Council for Institutional Investors, sang buybacks’ praises. So let’s compare these two very different perspectives on corporate resource allocation. Our view is founded on the conviction that, to compete...