Can corporate America afford to walk away from President Trump? – Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From The Conversation

After campaigning as the candidate best able to work with business, President Donald Trump has shown he is anything but.

stream of resignations from high-level business counsels hit a crescendo recently when Trump was forced to disband two executive councils. The widespread and public defections were in protest over his unwillingness to unequivocally condemn racism and intolerance over the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

As an expert in organizational communication and leadership, I saw the dismissal of the councils as a dramatic and important moment in the relationship between top business leaders and the president. But does it spell the demise of the often difficult partnership between President Trump and corporate America?

A permanent breach?

CEOs like Merck’s Ken Frazier rightly voted their conscience when they began to abandon Trump’s American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum. Frazier, the first to resign, said he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

The Wall Street Journal, however, was quick to point out that many companies have stopped short of saying they would refuse to work with the White House in the future.

Indeed, despite the heated rhetoric, one thing is clear: Corporate America wants and needs to work with the administration, while the president benefits from a healthy relationship with America’s CEOs.

So if they both need each other, the question becomes how this increasingly tenuous relationship will play out.

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Decoding CEO Pay – Robert Pozen & S.P. Kothari

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen

From Harvard Business Review 

Each year most public companies issue reports on the pay packages of their top executives, describing how their compensation committees arrived at the numbers. These reports are part of the proxy statements sent to all shareholders, who vote on the packages. The votes are advisory or binding, depending on the country where a company is chartered.

More than 95% of the time, shareholders overwhelmingly approve the pay recommendations. Yet our research suggests that investors should be more skeptical. Compensation committees frequently adjust company performance numbers in complex and

MIT Sloan Professor SP Kothari

even obscure ways, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, for example, they want to focus on the performance of a company’s core or continuing operations. Whatever the motive, the upshot is all too often inflated numbers, calculated on a nonstandard basis, that rationalize overly generous compensation.

Given that reality, compensation committees need to explain the basis of their decisions more clearly in their reports. For their part, investors need to develop standards and best practices for compensation design and reporting, around which they can build a meaningful dialogue with companies. Such a dialogue is critical today in view of the public’s concerns over the rising ratio of CEO pay to the average worker’s wages and of shareholders’ growing insistence that high pay be justified by superior managerial performance.

In this article we’ll review the common shortcomings of compensation committee reports, especially the use of nonstandard accounting measures and the selection of inappropriate peer companies. We’ll also propose ways in which companies and shareholders can improve their approach to determining top management’s compensation. Let’s begin by looking at an example of the problem.

Generous to a Fault

In their reports, most compensation committees identify the criteria used to award both annual cash bonuses and longer-term stock grants—usually the two largest components of executive pay. But even at the most upstanding companies, those criteria are seldom well explained.

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Are online news aggregators vampires? – Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

It isn’t often that an MIT Professor studies “vampire” like entities. However, that is exactly how news aggregators such as Huffington Post and Google News have been described by Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame.

The reason that Mr. Cuban thinks that aggregators deserve dracula-like appelations is that as he expresses – “Don’t let them suck your blood. Vampires take, but don’t give anything back.” In other words if you produce content the work of such news aggregators is viewed as been purely parasitic.

However, in a recent study I have shown that aggregators are not the blood suckers of the media industry that some have thought they were.

The study focuses on the 2010 showdown between Google News and the Associated Press over digital aggregation of news content by the Google platform. In January 2010, after a breakdown in licensing negotiations, Google News removed from its platform all news articles by the Associated Press, a media consortium that produces and shares news stories among its media members, including both large and small newspapers in the U.S.

The dispute lasted only a few months, but it provided a terrific opportunity to gauge how online traffic is impacted by the inclusion, then exclusion, of aggregated online content on a platform.

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How globalization sunk many Americans deeper in debt – Erik Loualiche

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Erik Loualiche

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Erik Loualiche

From MarketWatch

Even as U.S. policy makers continue to debate the relative advantages and drawbacks of globalization, it’s abundantly clear that international trade is not the benevolent force it was once thought.

For all its promise of boosting incomes and strengthening growth, trade has had a disproportionately damaging impact on regions of the U.S. that have long depended on manufacturing. Recent data shows that these communities have suffered a great deal of economic distress, including high rates of underemployment and joblessness.

These communities have also become much more indebted compared with the rest of the nation, according to my latest research. During the years 2000 to 2007 — also known as the run-up to the Great Recession — overall American household debt doubled. That debt peaked in 2008, at almost $13 trillion. This leverage, however, was not shared equitably. Household debt in regions of the country where manufacturing jobs had shifted overseas grew an additional 20-30% over that period. In other words, nearly a third of American household debt during that time frame can be attributed to import competition with China and other low-wage countries.

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Security surprises arising from the Internet of Things (IoT) – Stuart Madnick

MIT Sloan Professor Stuart Madnick

MIT Sloan Professor Stuart Madnick

From Forbes

My brother can’t function in the morning until he has a cup of coffee. So I use his daily routine as an example.

Picture my brother stumbling down to the kitchen one morning only to find his internet-enabled coffee maker won’t work. There’s a message on his iPhone: “We have taken control of your coffee pot and unless you pay $5, you won’t have your coffee.” This actually hasn’t happened. At least, not yet.

I have been talking about the security threats to common household items connected to the internet – that is, the Internet of Things (IoT) – for several years now, and unfortunately, every other dire warning has come true so far. Upper management has to take greater notice of risks exposed both in the products they produce and the products that they use and take action to mitigate those risks. Recent events underscore this need.

Two years ago an internet-enabled refrigerator was commandeered and began sending pornographic spam while making ice cubes. Baby monitors have been turned into eavesdropping devices and there are concerns about the security of medical devices, such as computerized insulin pumps. In October, thousands of security cameras were hacked to create a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) against Dyn, a provider of critical Domain Name System (DNS) services to companies like Twitter, AirBnB, etc. Then there is the recent disclosure of CIA tools for hacking IoT devices, such as Samsung SmartTVs, to turn them into listening devices. These are only a few examples highlighting the threats.

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