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Kenan Institute 2022 Annual Theme: Stakeholder Capitalism
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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues

Economic Development

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Designed for family business leaders, non-family executives, business-owning families and future leaders, this UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Family Enterprise Center online course is a unique opportunity to create a thoughtful roadmap for succession in family business. Come explore family business continuity challenges and common practices for successfully leading family-owned enterprises. Emphasis is placed on the importance of open, transparent communication in the family; the creation of a shared vision for the business; and the alignment of family and business goals.

Save the date for the Family Enterprise Center's 9th Annual Family Business Forum "Communication in the Family Business."

Stakeholder Capitalism

Pete Stavros of KKR & Co. founded Ownership Works, a new initiative backed by 19 private equity firms, with the objective of reducing income inequality by increasing employee share ownership. The group has prominent backers and a lofty goal of creating $20 billion in wealth in 10 years. As a researcher who has worked on employee share ownership and the benefits it can create, I was encouraged by the news. But while I broadly support employee ownership, such initiatives also can raise red flags because of the risk they impose on employees. As such, it is worthwhile to think carefully through what we know and don’t know about such programs.

The Fed tried to show its inflation-fighting mettle by raising the federal funds rate, the short-term interest rate it directly controls, by 0.75 of a percentage point. This is the largest increase since 1994, though the funds rate remains at a quite low 1.625%, especially relative to the 8.6% inflation reading last week. The Fed seemed to be spooked by the inflation print — which, rather than declining as many forecasters (including myself) expected, rose to its highest level since 1981. More important, in my opinion, longer-term measures of consumer inflation expectations and uncertainty increased.

Higher prices for gas, groceries and nearly everything else are on consumers’ minds after a government report Friday showing that inflation is up 8.6% on a year-over-year basis, the largest jump since late 1981. Chief Economist Gerald Cohen tells WTVD-TV, “When people start saying, ‘I think inflation is going to continue to occur, that means that the Fed has to work harder and that it could end badly.”

After government statistics showed another big annualized jump in inflation Friday, talk turned to how aggressively the Federal Reserve will act in raising interest rates this week. “Many people are expecting a half a percentage point increase,” Chief Economist Gerald Cohen told WRAL-TV. “Perhaps this would raise the discussion of doing a three-quarters of a percent increase.”

The Federal Reserve’s attempts to cool down the economy are not yet affecting hiring, as jobs numbers show a 17th straight monthly gain, The New York Times reported. “It’s a challenge, because they want to pull people into the labor force. They know the way to do that is through higher wages,” institute Chief Economist Gerald Cohen told the Times. “But higher wages can also breed higher inflation.”

The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise’s new series of economic briefings returned June 3 following the release of the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly employment report. In the 9 a.m. ET briefing, Executive Director Greg Brown provided insight on another relatively strong report and talked about how jobs numbers could help influence the Fed to either push past its expected target on interest rates or take a pause in its increases.

With the school year winding down, we invited Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute Fellow and UNC-Chapel Hill Public Policy Research Professor Iheoma Iruka to join us for a discussion on the business of childcare and early education – as well as the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted families’ expectations and workers’ needs

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (May 31, 2022) — Learn how the Department of Labor’s monthly employment report and recent market gyrations will affect expectations for the Fed’s interest rate policy and views on the economic outlook when the Kenan Institute’s new series of virtual press briefings returns this week.

Mark Little, executive director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated center CREATE, provided expert testimony in a process that resulted in a May 11 settlement agreement regarding contracting and hiring practices for Dominion Energy’s $9.8 billion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind renewable energy project.

First, the good news. Given what we know about current economic conditions, it is likely that the consumer inflation rate has peaked in the U.S. for the current cycle. Recent inflation reports on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Implicit Price Deflator, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure, show a jump to new 40-year highs in March but signs of moderation in coming months. For example, consumer goods with very large 12-month cost runups such as used cars and food away from home are starting to see prices moderate. Likewise, prices of important household goods like apparel, furnishings, prescription drugs and recreation commodities (think TVs and Pelotons) are flattening. Furthermore, some important energy prices such as crude oil and gasoline have stabilized in April after jumps in the first quarter. So, while inflation will surely remain elevated for some time, it is unlikely to get much worse.