Letter to the Editor ¦ August 1, 2002
Buck the corporate bottom line

By David Langer

Regarding: "Sorting through Wall Street's lowered expectations" (Work & Money, July 29): The future stock market yields, cited by various economists, are 6 percent inclusive of inflation and calculated on the usual basis of capital appreciation plus dividends. But are omitted are many factors that can make a difference in the full yield picture, and these omissions should give shareholders pause.

Workers, for instance, are intensely sffected by corporations' bottom-line mentality which regards human needs as irrelevant. The result is longer hours of work, cuts in pension and health-insurance benefits, and lowered job security. Retired persons find they have to live on reduced dividends and become more dependent on volatile capital appreciation. And as money flees the market when no longer in favor, savings-account interest will be cut, so retirees will have to live on less.

Supporting the stock market also means enhancing corporate wealth, enabling companies to exert undue influence over elected political bodies and judges and effectively diminish the value of the popular vote

A profound question can therefore be raised about the real value of the stock market for most investors. They will certainly want to prevail on corporations to behave in more citizen-friendly ways to earn the priviledge of receiving their investment dollars.

David Langer
Consulting Actuary, New York