In the sentimental vision of America, Main St of a small town, the businesses are locally owned, staffed locally, and local people brought their custom. The businesses and staff reflected the local culture. (For better and for worse, but still.)
A business owner might hire on the local slow kid. They might contribute toward the local smart kid going to college. They might give a break to the local widow. They might notice local environmental damage, and because they hunt or fish or hike, or just live, locally, they might care.
How inefficient! What suckers! Now we have hedge funds who come in and have no local ties, who just see costs and profits. Stakeholders? Pfui. They’ve got to pay executives and shareholders. Period. Employees and staff become human resources. They can charge more for less up until we lose customers, then pull back a tiny bit so the customers feel like they’re getting a deal. They use marketers with neuroscience degrees to leverage biases and convert them into sales. They use biologists to figure out how to double the size of our customers’ stomachs so we can sell them more cheap crap. They poison the land because that saves money that can go into executives’ and shareholders’ pockets (in that order), and the local people will be so poor and desperate and unhealthy at that point that they will fight to the death for the right to sell their birthright.
I have no idea how to stop this. Wish I did. You might be able to stop private equity firms by figuring out how to restrict their ability to saddle their vassal companies with debt; these companies used to be in the business of whatever their business was, but now their only purpose is to pay the PE firms. How to stop hedge funds ruining communities is harder. Certainly beyond me.
PS: I am excited about Warren’s presidential bid because I think she is especially able to focus on this domain. I don’t think anyone else can figure out how to rein in Private Equity or hedge funds.