Browse All Issues

The Boycott

As consummate consumers, Americans have embraced the boycott as a distinctively American way to influence powerful people and institutions. The internet and social media act as accelerants for activists launching boycotts, and the country’s deepening political polarization in the Trump era has further encouraged people on both sides of…

The Fiduciary Rule

Should financial industry professionals be required by law to put their clients’interests ahead of the size of their fees and commissions? That’s the thrust of a U.S. Labor Department regulation, known as the fiduciary rule, that was scheduled to take effect in April. The Trump administration called…

The Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve policymakers are confronting multiple challenges as they seek to guide the economy on a path of sustainable expansion while maintaining stable prices. The U.S. central bank must strike an elusive balance on monetary policy that wards off any inflationary pressure without suppressing an economic growth rate that…

Underground Economy

In the wake of the 2007-09 financial crisis, the underground sector has become a sizable part of the U.S. economy – perhaps as much as 10 percent. Many policymakers believe off-the-books work retards growth by denying tax revenues to governments, depressing wages, hurting competition and leaving workers vulnerable to…

Craft Brewers

The beer industry has become an arena for a battle between independent craft brewers and industry giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Craft beers continue to gain market share, following on the success of Anchor Brewing Co., Boston Beer Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., although there are signs that the market is…

Free Trade

Is the era of trade liberalization that began in 1945 over? The collapse of world trade talks in 2008, Great Britain’s shocking vote last year to leave the European Union and the election of President Trump on an anti-globalization platform suggest that it might be. The gains from trade…

The Internet of Things

The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is abundant, according to proponents: This growing array of internet-linked devices, ranging from baby monitors to thermostats to cars, will improve lives, increase productivity and create new business markets. Skeptics point to equally substantial downsides, including vulnerability to cyberattack and concerns about…

The Pet Industry

With spending on pets in the United States rising annually and projected to reach almost $100 billion by the end of the decade, the pet industry is considered virtually recession-resistant by experts who study it. They cite factors such as the multigenerational appeal of pets, studies showing a correlation between…

Aging Infrastructure

President Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail last year to launch a $1 trillion program to regenerate the country’s infrastructure. Few dispute the need for a major investment: The Flint water crisis, a 2007 Minneapolis bridge collapse and the 2003 Northeast blackout show the dangers of neglecting infrastructure…

Direct Drug Marketing

Pharmaceutical makers spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on marketing activities that include catchy direct-to-consumer (DTC) television ads for prescription drugs, physician-targeted promotions and other strategies. Critics contend that this aggressive marketing is a threat to public health because companies overemphasize a drug’s benefits and downplay potentially…

Business Accelerators

Are business accelerators the key to success for early-stage businesses and startups? Many entrepreneurs think so. Since the first accelerator, Y Combinator, was founded in the United States in 2005, the number of accelerators has increased dramatically. More than 180 accelerator programs worldwide have helped some 6,000 companies attract…

Fashion Industry

The global fashion business is going through a period of intense change and competition, with disruption coming in many colors: global online marketplaces, slower growth, more startups and consumers who now seem bored by what once excited them. Many U.S. shoppers have grown tired of buying Prada and Chanel…

Shadow Banking

Regulators are watching so-called shadow banks much more closely in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but how best to regulate money market funds, the market for repurchase agreements and other potentially risky activities remains hotly debated. The 2016 election could be a turning point for the monitoring of…

The Business of Christmas

From shopping malls to office cubicles, the religious tradition of the Christmas season is steadily disappearing as businesses try to avoid alienating customers or employees. Companies are caught in a cross fire between those on both sides of what some have called a “war on Christmas.” Civil libertarians…

The Trump Agenda

The election of Donald J. Trump along with a Congress controlled by his Republican Party gives the incoming president an opportunity to move forward rapidly on several of his campaign pledges, including cutting taxes on individuals and businesses, rolling back the Affordable Care Act and increasing spending on infrastructure projects…

Wage Stagnation

Is wage stagnation over? Recent upticks in median household income suggest the problem might be lessening. But at a time when the U.S. labor market is healthy and adding jobs at a steady clip, wages for many workers remain flat. Some economists assert that changes in income distribution have…

Women in Management

In nearly every industry, women are well represented in management until they approach the senior echelon. At that point, they begin to fall away. When they leave, companies lose the many documented advantages that women possess as leaders and innovators. The absence of senior women exacerbates the gender pay gap…

China’s Slowdown

China’s headlong leap into the ranks of the world’s largest economies has slowed since the severe global recession of 2008, with real gross domestic product growth falling from 10.6 percent in 2010 to an estimated 6.6 percent this year. Chinese leaders are struggling to cope with…

Customer Service

When most people think of customer service, they picture an impersonal call center near Mumbai, or a computerized system that struggles to understand the caller’s question and leaves the consumer screaming to speak with a human. Such unhappy images still exist. But—driven by the internet, mobile devices, social…

Fintech

The surge of financial technology startups—or “fintechs”—is improving the speed and quality of customer service of lending, money transfers, wealth management and much more in the banking industry. As these firms become more prominent in the financial services sector, banks and regulators will have to adapt…

Shopping Malls

For one analyst, the opening of a new enclosed mall is akin to watching a dinosaur traversing the landscape: It’s something not seen anymore. Dozens of malls have closed since 2011, and one study predicts at least 15 percent of the country’s largest 1,052 malls could cease…

Brexit

The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union is the worst setback Europe’s leaders have suffered during more than half a century of painstaking efforts to bind that continent together economically and politically. It was wholly unforeseen and ran counter to the bulk of expert advice, which…

Corporate Taxes

From burger and doughnut makers to pharmaceutical firms, companies moving their legal headquarters abroad have become avatars for a debate about the U.S. corporate tax system. On one side are business groups and their advocates who say these corporate “inversions” are symptoms of a business tax rate that…

The Global Art Industry

The market for artwork is a paradox: increasingly global and celebrity-driven, yet just as likely to take root in a New Orleans park or an online website as a high-end Manhattan gallery. Its products range from paintings and sculpture to prints, antique tea sets and furniture, even Banksy graffiti. It’…

Electric Power Industry

The U.S. electric utility industry is experiencing dramatic changes in technology, marketing and energy policy that are altering the business in ways unseen since the time of Thomas Edison. Technological advances and tax credits are spurring investment in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Politics and policy—…

The Worldwide Workforce

As multinational corporations expand their footprint abroad, their appetite for workers with global business skills grows apace. Some of the world’s best-known brands now base most of their operations and workforces outside their home country, and more employees than ever are being sent abroad. As a result, the ability…

Product Recalls

Recalls of potentially dangerous or defective products are on the rise, in the United States and around the world. The drivers of this trend include increasingly aggressive government regulators with enhanced authority to pursue recalls, technology that makes it easier for consumers to complain about unsatisfactory products and an ever…

Behavioral Economics

No longer a fledgling challenge to traditional theories, behavioral economics is a growing field of study incorporating how human psychology affects economic decisions. Economists have long held that humans are perfectly rational actors who know how to maximize their own happiness. Supporters of behavioral economics say this is simplistic, and…

Ethics and the Supply Chain

Under pressure from a growing movement of activists determined to make supply chains more ethical, businesses that once disclaimed responsibility for their overseas suppliers' behavior are re-examining that stance. Companies are scrutinizing the supply chain on questions ranging from environmental standards and product safety to the treatment of workers. Some…

Doing Business in Cuba

President Obama's historic announcement in December 2014 that he wants to normalize relations with Cuba, coupled with the easing of restrictions on travel and commerce, has unleashed a huge wave of interest by U.S. companies in the island nation. Some experts warn this enthusiasm is premature, noting that a…

Health Care Payments

Health care spending continues to rise in the United States, consuming nearly 18 percent of gross domestic product in 2014—a trajectory that many experts warn is unsustainable. Some say the traditional “fee-for-service” system of reimbursing doctors and hospitals for each service rendered wastes money and even harms patients…

Meetings and Team Management

Not for nothing are so many “Dilbert” comic strips set in meetings. Notorious for wasting time, dulling motivation and draining creativity, meetings are widely seen as a necessary evil—one poll found that 46 percent of Americans prefer almost any “unpleasant activity” over a meeting. Not surprisingly, managers…

Economic Indicators

Economists, business executives and investors confront a barrage of economic statistics every day—much of it conflicting. Government agencies such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis issue indicators designed to gauge the U.S. economy, the world's largest. Yet the nation's shift from a manufacturing economy to one based on…

Technology and Business Ethics

Rapidly advancing technologies such as big data analytics offer potentially great benefits to companies and consumers, but experts warn that modern technology also has a downside: It can give companies seeking a competitive edge the tools to engage in illegal or unethical practices. Because digital devices—from the sensors and…

Cybersecurity

As fast as Internet use has grown over the past two decades, so too has the cybersecurity challenge for businesses and governments that are fighting to keep their data and networks safe from intruders. Today, they face an unprecedented assault from a powerful global army of sophisticated, well-organized and well-financed…

Commercial Drones

Drone aircraft, until recently the domain of the military and a handful of hobbyists, play an increasing role in businesses, including agriculture, engineering and real estate. Still more untested uses are under consideration, such as using drones to deliver packages to customers. Millions of consumers also are buying the machines…

Failure

Failure has long carried costs and stigma, both personal and professional. In some business sectors, though, notably the technology industry, failure has become acceptable, even fashionable. It's inevitable that people who try new things will not always succeed. Fear of failure stifles creativity and innovation, advocates say. Bankruptcy has become…

Social Entrepreneurship

Global interest in social entrepreneurship is growing, as investors, corporations, academic institutions and foundations support individuals trying to solve intractable global problems, from abject poverty in the developing world to the ravages of climate change. Whether working in for-profit, nonprofit or hybrid organizations, these entrepreneurs are applying sound business principles…

"Free" as a Business

For a growing array of companies, giving their product away is now a business plan. Games, music, software—just about anything that can be digitally replicated and distributed via the Internet—all are available at no cost to consumers. Some businesses follow a cross-subsidy model, where one product or class…

Accounting Trends

In matters of accounting and auditing, the United States increasingly is going it alone as the rest of the world settles on a different set of standards. U.S. companies must conform to the detailed rules known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Elsewhere, companies largely follow what are known…

The Business of Philanthropy

To support their philanthropic missions, U.S. nonprofit groups raise and spend trillions of dollars each year, and employ about 11 million people. They have access to unmatched wealth, dazzling technology and increasingly sophisticated and data-hungry donors. But challenges abound. They include an intense rivalry for dollars, whether fundraising is…

Doing Business With Japan

Since the late 1980s, Japan's economy has struggled to overcome years of recession and punishing price deflation, plus a declining population and aging citizenry. Among the forces pushing against these head winds: a small but growing group of entrepreneurs who are trying to bring creativity and energy to the economy…

Global Manufacturing

Corporations rushed to expand their global operations over the last three decades, motivated in part by China's aggressive policies seeking foreign investment. Industries including automobiles, clothing manufacturing and technology opened factories there and in other parts of the developing world, with the United States losing jobs from the shift: In…

Doing Business in Mexico

Seeking to improve its economy and the standard of living for its 122 million citizens, Mexico is undergoing a massive transformation as it courts foreign investors and an array of trade partners. It has embarked on an ambitious agenda of domestic reforms—opening the oil sector to private investors for…

Mortgage Finance

Nearly a decade after housing prices peaked in 2006 and then crashed the following year, qualifying for a home mortgage has become an onerous process, with cautious banks enforcing ultra-strict underwriting standards. Mortgage lenders are struggling to find a balance where their lending criteria are strict enough to protect against…

Omnichannel Retail

Consumers in an Internet age have the world at their fingertips. They can buy on the Web, on mobile devices and via social media. They can shop seven days a week at any time of day and buy from anyone anywhere. Some browse the Internet, then buy in a store…

The Sharing Economy

What's called the sharing economy—peer-to-peer transactions conducted via the Internet and smartphones—has changed how people arrange car rides, find vacation lodging and more. Revenue is projected to soar in the coming years, although profitability remains untested. But as businesses such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb flourish, regulation and…

Executive Pay

CEOs of some of the largest U.S. companies are paid more than $100 million a year in salary, bonuses, stock and stock options. Stockholders who participate in votes on these pay packages almost always back them, although the occasional company faces resistance. Some analysts say CEO pay levels—which…

Business and Universities

Policymakers increasingly see universities as engines of economic growth and as “incubators of innovation.” They argue that academic capitalism—an umbrella term for a variety of market-driven university ventures—is an innovative way to fund teaching, research and campus expansion in an era of tight budgets and rising…

Government and Business

Government regulations touch nearly every aspect of the American economy, from advertising to employment, privacy, safety, health and the environment. About 300,000 full-time government workers are involved in the regulatory system, and agencies issue more than 3,000 federal regulations annually. States and municipal governments, meanwhile, issue their own…

Venture Capital

Venture capital in the United States has matured as an industry, and with maturity comes fear of complacency. Many of its stars are reaching retirement age, and the sector faces questions about its inability to beat stock market returns, let alone match its storied performance of the 1990s, when the…

Hispanic Marketing

By 2060, Hispanics are expected to represent approximately 28 percent of the U.S. population, up from 17 percent in 2014. They are the country's fastest-growing demographic group and an increasingly important market for companies seeking to expand: In 2003, companies spent $3.4 billion on Hispanic advertising campaigns. By…

Women in Top Management

Decades after the first women took seats on corporate boards and began occupying corner offices, they remain under-represented in senior-most executive jobs and in boardrooms. Experts cite a variety of barriers to advancement, including lingering bias and career paths that don't lead to promotions. Tech companies increasingly are under scrutiny…

Internships

Once the province of young doctors-in-training, the student internship has become an expected—if not required—part of a college education in nearly every discipline. About 60 percent of graduating seniors in 2014 had at least one internship, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. But a spate…

Business and Climate Change

Climate change is more than an environmental issue; it also is a business issue. Conservatives have long argued that trying to slow the effects of a warming planet would badly damage the economy by raising taxes, increasing regulations and lowering employment. For business leaders, the debate is not academic. If…

Ethics and Financial Services

Seven years after subprime mortgage lending and Wall Street investment maneuvering precipitated a global financial crisis, managers, lawmakers, regulators and law enforcement officials continue to debate the reasons for the 2008 debacle and the lessons still to be learned. Observers disagree about who was to blame, with bankers, regulators and…

Pensions

For much of the 20th century, pensions were as much a part of the employment landscape as the 40-hour workweek. But two stock-market crashes and record-low interest rates since the year 2000 have made the plans much more costly and volatile for even the healthiest of companies. As a result…

Global Oil and Gas Industry

The world is experiencing a new age of energy abundance, largely because the United States, the largest energy consumer, is also increasingly a producer. In addition, Brazil and Canada, among others, are emerging as oil powers. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which high-pressure streams of water and chemicals are injected…

Digital Marketing

Have you logged onto the Internet today? Used a mobile phone or tablet? Then you have seen digital marketing: ads that pop up on whatever website you are viewing. Not to mention placements on Google—and podcasts, electronic billboards and text messages, all vying for your attention (and business). You…

Minimum Wage

In the United States and around the world, public concern has grown that the lowest-paid workers are falling behind as national economies recover from the global recession. Most Americans support raising the minimum wage to assist low-paid workers, and lawmakers in some U.S. states and cities have done so…

Sustainability

Many companies, mostly large multinationals, are adopting sustainability programs and delivering annual reports on their progress toward creating a new kind of business. Within this burgeoning movement, sustainable companies give the environment and human rights the same priority as profits. Their goals include protecting the Earth to reduce the effects…

The Value of an MBA

MBA programs are hard to get into and expensive to attend, but they remain a popular option for those trying to get ahead in the business world. The job outlook for MBAs is strong, with demand for top executives expected to grow by 11 percent through 2022, according to the…

Robots and Automation

Fueled by advances in computer and sensor technology, robots are growing in sophistication and versatility to become an important—and controversial—sector of the world economy. Once largely limited to manufacturing plants, robots now are found in households, offices and hospitals, and on farms and highways. Some believe robots are…

Doing Business in India

India, with 1.25 billion people and a growing middle class, offers a vast market for global companies. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, elected in mid-2014, has promised to improve the climate for all types of businesses and has reached out to foreign investors. Indeed, there are signs…

Crowdfunding

The explosive growth of social media and the Internet have paved the way for crowdfunding, a means of raising small amounts of money online from a large number of people without any financial intermediaries. Crowdfunding, say proponents, democratizes the fundraising process by helping start-ups, nonprofits, artists and others overcome barriers…

Crisis Management

For CEOs, the world is a scary place. Growing technological complexity, the advent of an interconnected global economy in which a disaster in one region can reverberate in others, and the increased use of social media contribute to the number of crises that businesses face. How a company limits the…

Big Data

Big data—information that can be measured in millions of billions of bytes—increasingly allows businesses to understand their customers and gain advantage over their competitors. These data sets are huge and sometimes messy but, with ever-improving statistical tools, they can yield information that allows managers to act quickly and…

Flat Management

Flat management techniques, spurred by the growth of technology companies, are becoming more popular, but it's an approach that can offer advantages to other types and sizes of businesses, too. Although it isn't applicable to all situations, flat management will likely keep gaining ground as the economy continues to evolve…

Work–Life Balance

Policies that help employees balance the demands of work and life, once viewed as benefits bestowed largely on women by benevolent bosses, have evolved into strategies to achieve corporate goals. Studies show such policies increase both productivity and profitability and help companies hire and retain talented professionals. They are especially…