Ciara Torres-Spelliscy in Guernica:
Robert A.G. Monks, a long-time expert on corporate governance, is not known for mincing his words, and his latest book Citizens Disunited pulls no punches. He wants big investors to start using their influence to push back. Writing about corporate political power, Monks warns that “money buys voices, ears, face time, and sit-downs, but it also buys silence.” It is the silence in service of the status quo that he interrogates throughout his short, hard-hitting tome.
While soft celebrity news has found its way onto the CNN news ticker, an underappreciated struggle for the soul of American companies has been under way. In Citizens Disunited, Monks pulls back the curtain to reveal the broad outlines of a battle that has been raging for decades, largely outside of the public’s gaze, between activist investors and the companies that they own.
As Monks, who literally wrote the book on Corporate Governance, sees it, the little guys have largely lost in their attempts to reign in executive compensation, sky high options and managerial perks like the personal use of corporate jets, money for pet projects and campaign funds—all of which are provided at shareholder expense.