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Annals of Boom and Bust

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: The Fearless Girl statue stands alone in front of the New York Stock Exchange near Wall Street during the coronavirus pandemic on April 25, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: The Fearless Girl statue stands alone in front of the New York Stock Exchange near Wall Street during the coronavirus pandemic on April 25, 2020 in New York City. COVID-19 has spread to most countries around the world, claiming over 200,000 lives with infections close to 2.9 million people. (Photo by Justin Heiman/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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December 2, 2022 12:28 p.m.

You may have noticed that storied Disney CEO Bob Iger is back in his old job after successor Bob Chapek was unexpectedly fired last month, the corporate equivalent of a drumhead trial and summary execution. The issues at Disney are partly the bearish stock market, partly Chapek’s poor performance. But the central issue is managing Disney’s transformation or attempted transformation into a streaming behemoth. You may already subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or AppleTV. If you do, maybe you’ll sign up for one or two more such services. But not more than that. There’s been a furious competition to be one of those one or two more. Under his long tenure at Disney, Iger made a series of acquisitions — Marvel, the Star Wars franchise, Fox entertainment and more — that made that plausible. Now the future of Disney as a streaming business is in question and that is a central reason why Iger is back.

This may seem far from your concerns. But it is part of a larger dynamic that is central to the early 21st century world. We live in an informational and entertainment world in which there are successive cycles of lavish spending to build market share followed by job losses, diminished quality and general chaos when the winners and losers get sorted out.

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