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HLS Library Book Talk: The Problem of Twelve

September 20, 2023

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

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WCC; 2019 Milstein West B

Join the HLS Library on Wednesday September 20 at 12:30pm for a HLS Library Book Talk in Milstein West, Wasserstein Hall. This event features a discussion on The Problem of Twelve: When a Few Financial Institutions Control Everything with author John Coates and panelists Guy-Uriel Charles and Shawn Cole. This event is free and will be recorded. The in-person event is open to all Harvard ID holders, the livestream is open to all.

Register to attend in-person via Eventbrite, Harvard ID required. Register by September 13 for lunch. Registrations made after September 13 do not guarantee lunch.

Register for the livestream via Zoom Webinars, open to the public. Livestream does not include lunch.

If you, or an event participant, require disability-related accommodations, please contact Accessibility Services at

More about the book from the publisher:
“A “problem of twelve” arises when a small number of institutions acquire the means to exert outsized influence over the politics and economy of a nation.

The Big Four index funds of Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and BlackRock control more than twenty percent of the votes of S&P 500 companies—a concentration of power that’s unprecedented in America. Then there’s the rise of private equity funds, such as the Big Four of Apollo, Blackstone, Carlyle, and KKR, which have amassed $2.7 trillion of assets, and are eroding the legitimacy and accountability of American capitalism—not by controlling public companies, but by taking them over entirely, and removing them from public disclosure and public scrutiny.

What can be done to check this level of power? Harvard Law professor John Coates argues that only politics can fight the problem of twelve.”

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September 20, 2023, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

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