Capitalists, Arise!

End Economic Inequality, Grow the Middle Class, Heal the Nation

“A clear-eyed assessment about the drivers of key national challenges like income inequality and shrinking economic opportunity. Georgescu offers a number of thoughtful prescriptions for change.”

—Roger W. Ferguson, President and CEO, TIAA

Peter Georgescu arrived in this country as a penniless Romanian refugee and rose to become the CEO of Young & Rubicam. Which is why he’s so heartsick that in America today, with flat wages, disappearing jobs, and a shrinking middle class, his kind of rags-to-riches story doesn’t seem possible now. But he has a message for his fellow CEOs: we’re the ones who must take the lead in fixing the economy.

Marshaling deeply sobering statistics, Georgescu depicts the stark reality of America today: a nation with greater wealth inequality and lower social mobility than just about any other country in the developed world. But the problem isn’t that free-market capitalism no longer works—it’s that it’s been hijacked by shareholder primacy. Where once our business leaders looked to the needs and interests of a variety of stakeholders—employees, community members, the business itself—now they’re myopically focused on maximizing their shareholders’ returns and nothing else.

Capitalists Arise! shows how the short-term thinking spawned by shareholder primacy lies at the root of our current economic malaise and social breakdown. But Georgescu offers concrete actions that capitalists themselves can take to create a better future—pay a fair wage, build up the business instead of just the stock price, and more. The irony is that if businesses do this, shareholders will do even better. In the long run, businesses can thrive only when society is healthy and strong. This book is a manifesto calling on capitalists to heal the nation that has given them so much.