My new Cato piece begins:
Yesterday the Business Roundtable released a “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation” signed by 180 CEOs of major companies. It proclaims “a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” including customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and, finally, shareholders. It is being widely interpreted as a victory for anti-business campaigners and “corporate social responsibility” advocates, and perhaps also as a repudiation of the shareholder-primacy norm memorably defended (though in no way originated) by free-market economist Milton Friedman.
Read on to see why I’m skeptical that the statement can be pinned down as meaning much of anything at all — and why, if it does signify anything beyond happy talk, it will probably turn out to be a bad idea.