Lee Schafer | Star Tribune
Columnist | Business

Lee Schafer joined the Star Tribune as columnist in 2012 after 15 years in business, including leading his own consulting practice and serving on corporate boards of directors. He's twice been named the best in business columnist by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, most recently for his work in 2017.

Schafer grew up on a southwest Minnesota cattle farm and studied history and economics at Macalester College. He received his masters degree from Northwestern University and worked as a writer and editor for a regional business monthly before returning to business. His work included investment banking but he had the most fun advising CEOs on growth strategy. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Tanya Bell, a real estate development consultant and civic leader, and they have three adult daughters. He's also been active as a volunteer, including for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood House and Urban Homeworks.


Schafer: How many jobs will robots eliminate?

Self-driving cars and other robotic technologies won't come for a while, a top McKinsey executive says. But until then, leaders in business and society need to figure out how millions of people's jobs will be affected.


Schafer: Did Irwin Jacobs improve the companies he targeted?

Lord only knows how many different businesses Irwin Jacobs touched during his career, but it was his high-profile public role as a takeover artist that…


Schafer: Insider was wrong person to fix Wells Fargo's biggest problem — its culture

It’s actually possible to feel a little sorry for Tim Sloan, the departed chief executive of Wells Fargo & Co. Like the time Tim Sloan’s…


Schafer: Have low investment returns become normal?

If the Fed is backing off rate hikes, big questions still loom, business columnist Lee Schafer writes. Among them: how will savers beat inflation? And what will happen when the next recession comes and there is little room to cut rates?


Schafer: Lyft's filings are a new milestone for asset-light businesses

There were few surprises in the filings of ride-sharing firm Lyft Inc. as it prepared to go public. Anybody paying attention already knew the company…


Schafer: With 'Great Gatsby Curve,' economist Krueger saw inequality kids face

His work in the Obama administration highlighted just how long the odds kids might face of lifting themselves into the upper classes are.


Schafer: Companies should be smarter about stock buybacks

When looking to confirm news of a stock buyback plan, a first scroll through recent news releases of Medtronic PLC turned up nothing. There was…


Schafer: As people live and work longer, is it time to rethink retirement?

Maybe it's time to dump the term full retirement age: A lot of hard-to-plan-for things can happen between the last day on the job and last day on earth.


Schafer: New-housing infrastructure fees stir up the suburbs

Deep in a report by the trade group Housing First Minnesota on fees cities collect on new housing is a little chart that shows how…


Schafer: Lessons about the power of being a 'headquarters economy'

Our governor and legislators might be a little busy now but by next session they should have read a new book called "Headquarters Economy" by business school Prof. Myles Shaver.