Work in the Walmartocene

Some scientists contend that we should label the era we live in the Anthropocene, because we humans (anthropoi) have fundamentally altered our global ecosystem. Economists might, for similar reasons, consider labeling the current economic era the Walmartocene.

 

The world’s largest retail company (and second-largest business), having easily survived recent skirmishes with workers, shareholders and the law, just announced that it would virtually guarantee jobs to most recent American veterans, who currently suffer from higher-than-average unemployment rates.

In some ways, Walmart represents the archetype of modern capitalism. It is Tyrannosaurus rex. It pioneers cost-saving methods of global outsourcing and resistance to unionization. It leaps national borders in a single bound. It generates huge profits for its shareholders by delivering a gazillion goods to consumers around the world at prices that few other big-box stores – much less small retail businesses – match. <Read more>

First published as a New York Times Economix blog, Jan. 21, 2013.