January 27 2016
Richard Sylla, visiting Phi Beta Kappa scholar, will present “Whither the American Business Corporation?” on Monday, February 8 at 4:00 p.m., in the Tripp Lecture Hall at Elmira College. The event is free and open to the public.
The Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which granted corporations relatively unlimited free-speech rights to spend corporate funds in electoral politics, has caused some Americans to worry that we are becoming a government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations. The decision came in an era when corporations were bailed out by government at the same time homeowners suffered foreclosures, and when CEOs were paid millions as corporate profits increased by outsourcing jobs to other countries while median family incomes stagnated and inequalities of income and wealth increased. Sylla’s presentation looks at the long history of the American corporation and how the imbalance of corporate privileges and responsibilities is a relatively recent phenomenon. Earlier in our history there was a better balance of corporate privileges and responsibilities. This suggests a better balance might once again be possible. The question is, how?
Richard Sylla is Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets and professor of economics at New York University, as well as a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is past president of the Economic History Association. His research focuses on the financial history of the U.S. in comparative contexts, and among his books are A History of Interest Rates (2005), Founding Choices: American Economic Policy in the 1790s (2011), and Genealogy of American Finance (2015). Professor Sylla also serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Museum of Finance, a Smithsonian affiliate museum located at 48 Wall Street in New York.
Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious honor society, and is dedicated to fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Only 270 colleges and universities have been granted a charter for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Elmira College’s chapter was established in 1940.