Columnist | Business

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: ESG investing now is everywhere, meaning we've got another DIY project

The website of investment manager Stonebridge Capital Advisors of St. Paul barely mentions its practice of scanning for environmental, social and corporate governance


Schafer: We already knew hospital pricing was a mess, so now what?

Even as treatment prices become easier to find, it's unclear that patients will take the time to make comparisons.


Schafer: After all these years, for-profit education is just getting started

While the landscape is dotted with failed ventures, plenty of capital is still flowing to the for-profit education sector.


Schafer: How the Minneapolis Fed influenced the rest of the Fed on poverty and unemployment

Minneapolis Fed Neel Kashkari's efforts have had an effect on current decisions regarding interest rates and inflation.


Schafer: Maybe these NDAs really protect only the bad employers

Nondisclosure agreements limit the flow of information about employers in ways that have gotten too extreme.


Schafer: Target's stock buybacks represent a bet it will be more valuable in the future

Corporate share repurchases are often seen as a sign of short-term thinking, but they're actually the reverse.


Schafer: Time we ask if the big companies are getting a little too big

UnitedHealth Group didn't even announce its acquisition last week of PreferredOne, the health insurance unit of Fairview Health. A colleague reported the story based…


Schafer: CEO Martha is bringing the hustle back to Medtronic

Geoff Martha became CEO of the nation's largest medical-device company just as coronavirus spread across the land. His first job was to quintuple production of respiratory ventilators.


Schafer: The seeds of investment fiascos are always the same

The tale of a big loss at Hmong College Prep Academy sure looks like someone was sold a tall tale.


Schafer: The maze to get down payment assistance must be simplified

The gap in homeownership in Minnesota could be narrowed, maybe significantly, if these programs were made more simple and uniform.