*Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero*, publication day

I view this work as an antidote to many of the less than stellar arguments circulating today.  It looks like this:

Table of contents

1. A new pro-business manifesto

2. Are businesses more fraudulent than the rest of us?

3. Are CEOs paid too much?

4. Is work fun?

5. How monopolistic is American big business?

6. Are the big tech companies evil?

7. What is Wall Street good for, anyway?

8. Crony capitalism: How much does big business control the American government?

9. If business is so good, why is it disliked?

Here is part of the Amazon description:

An against-the-grain polemic on American capitalism from New York Times bestselling author Tyler Cowen.

We love to hate the 800-pound gorilla. Walmart and Amazon destroy communities and small businesses. Facebook turns us into addicts while putting our personal data at risk. From skeptical politicians like Bernie Sanders who, at a 2016 presidential campaign rally said, “If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” to millennials, only 42 percent of whom support capitalism, belief in big business is at an all-time low. But are big companies inherently evil? If business is so bad, why does it remain so integral to the basic functioning of America? Economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen says our biggest problem is that we don’t love business enough.

In Big Business, Cowen puts forth an impassioned defense of corporations and their essential role in a balanced, productive, and progressive society. He dismantles common misconceptions and untangles conflicting intuitions.

You can pre-order here on Amazon.  Here at Barnes & Noble.  Here at Books a Million.  Here at Itunes.  Here at IndieBound.  From PlayGoogle.  From Kobo.

Here is the publisher’s home page.  Definitely recommended…and if you are a regular MR reader, no more than five to ten percent of this book has already appeared on this blog.

Comments

Good one Tyler, this case needs making.

+1 I agree 100%.

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Carrying water for American corporate cuckoldry is a damn shame. The libertarian cuckold economy will usher in the next Trump lickety split.

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Tyler, if you are doing interviews, I would like to speak for an article in Chief Executive Magazine. Jeff

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Timing is mostly luck, whether in the case of making an investment or in publishing a book. The timing is not good for this book, a book about the greatness of big business in the midst of the worst case of big business behavior since the Bhopal disaster. I'm not disputing the merits of Cowen's case for big business, only pointing out the bad luck of the timing. Boeing may not survive unless rescued by the government, an ironic twist if there ever was one. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/08/business/boeing-737-max-.html

Boeing stock is still where it went right after the second crash, down maybe 15% from its peak. BP this ain't (and BP didn't come close to going out of business either).

True enough: Bhopal was in far off India, so what if a few thousand Indians died when Union Carbide's negligently maintained plant leaked toxic gas. Boeing is different: Boeing put in service an airliner Boeing knew had a defective design, a defect so obvious to Boeing that it installed a censor that would disarm the pilots and convert the aircraft into a self-driving aircraft if the defect caused what Boeing knew would happen, the nose of the aircraft pitching up and risking a stall. Of course, the difference is that Boeing put at risk the entire flying public, not only the dead in Ethiopia and Indonesia but the family flying to Florida to visit grandma. Union Carbide has so far escaped most of the responsibility. Boeing won't because neither the public nor the pilots will trust Boeing.

None of what you say will happen

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Or, taking the other side: the timing of this book could not be better. The time to worry about anti-business populism is when the pro-business case appears weak. This will be a healthy antidote.

You realize the timing is no coincidence Tyler’s job is to be a propagandist for the wealthy so he knows when he needs to spring into action and earn his pay.

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I'm curious, take my money.

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3. No! In fact, CEOs do not make enough. Show me one study that proves paying CEOs 1,000,000+ times the average employee generates negative outcomes. It doesn't. It's only fair, as CEOs bear so much personal responsibility (e.g. look at all the CEOs who are rotting in prison due to their roles in the financial crisis.) I also like the idea of eliminating income taxes for CEOs but good luck getting that through the SJWs.

Where is the evidence that higher CEO pay leads to better outcomes for business? Look at growth distributions among companies in any major index and notice how normal the curve looks - split it by those with a high ratio of pay to the average employee and those with a low ratio and let me know if you observe a growth premium.

Also please explain how removing income tax would create any positive incentive effects? In fact it would shift the preference from performance based remuneration (options, etc) towards income due to the tax implications.

Seems like you haven't even attempted to think this through and are just a regurgitating politically motivated nonsense.

We should expect to see no lasting relationship between CEO pay and overall company performance. If higher CEO pay routinely led to better outcomes then CEO pay will get driven higher until that relationship is no longer true. Conversely, if lower CEO pay led to better company outcomes then CEO pay would drop until that was no longer true.

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Jan was being ironic. No one went to jail for the financial crisis and executive compensation does not predict future performance.

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My priors are: 1. CEOs are probably overpaid, and 2. this doesn't matter.

At the Fortune 500 level, you could pay them 1/10th as much for identical results, with high confidence. But since they are sitting on top of such a huge machine, even a 1% chance that they improve outcomes by 1% is worth millions of dollars.

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I can only say that I'd be more interested in this book if it were written by someone more like me -- a dull, embittered corporate peon whose days consist of bullshitting and drudgery but is too locked in to quit because of all the health problems I have due to a lifetime of malnutrition in no small part due to the wonders of corporations like McDonalds, Marlboro, and the Coca Cola Company. Instead it's written by you, a man who has never worked for a large corporation and has his salary paid by billionaires.

That’s absolutely a great point. Tyler’s never worked for a big business and I’m sure he loves a life where all his interactions with such entities is overwhelmingly positive.

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'Are CEOs paid too much?'

Clearly, 38% are paid too much. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/fraud-failure-and-bankruptcy-pay-well-for-ceos-2013-08-28

'How monopolistic is American big business?' Is this a trick question? Or is meant to be answered in a Waholesque fashion, that monopoly is whatever you can get away with?

'What is Wall Street good for, anyway?' - Is this a trick question? Or is bonuses for CEOs too obvious?

'Crony capitalism: How much does big business control the American government?' - Is this a trick question? Because just like with monopoly, the answer is clearly as much as they can get away with.

But who knew that Sanders was a fan of Schumpeter's concept of creative destruction - '“If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist” seems about as orthodox an interpretation of capitalism's strength through creative destruction as one could wish for. Along with being the sort of damning indictment of crony capitalism that any libertarian could completely support.

'belief in big business is at an all-time low' - Well, as long as one ignores any pre.WWII beliefs concerning big business. Unless one thinks Standard Oil was considered the darling of Americans everywhere, of course.

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There are no Mom & Pop transcontinental railroads or automobile manufacturers.

'or automobile manufacturers'

Interesting point. These people aren't exactly mom and pop, but they aren't VW either. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TVR

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The big revelation for me in this post is that Books-a-Million still exists.

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Walmart and Amazon destroy communities and small businesses.

Is this false? I don't think so.

I mean, you can argue that the benefits outweigh these harms, but that doesn't mean the harms are not real.

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Well I never! No one here has yet read Cowen's book, but they all have strongly voiced opinions about it. That provides an interesting natural experiment. I had always suspected they didn't know what they were talking about. Now any doubt has been removed.

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Tyler’s journalism is boring. Is he trying to be the next David Brooks? Tyler needs to go back to writing serious, academic work.

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