Ethical Investing News/Commentaries: July
Commentaries by Ron
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Trade Sales Grow 41% In 2006 Over 2005.
It will be interesting to see when Fair Trade’s
products move well beyond the agricultural domain,
say into areas of manufacturing, etc. This is
impressive growth though and many of the world’s
poorest individuals are benefiting from it.
41 Percent Increase in Global Fair Trade Certified
Sales Benefits 1.4 Million Farmers Worldwide,
July 31, BusinessWire, USA.
Investing Sector Alarmed By Proposed Chinese Stake
In my opinion this is the
taste of things to come, as China uses over $300
billion of its reserves to purchase assets other
than US treasury bonds. If companies that now
receive high ratings from socially responsible
investing screens do receive funding by the Chinese
state, these companies could be barred from many
ethically and socially oriented investment
portfolios. The reason of course is China’s abysmal
human rights record. Ethical investors should need
to watch China’s investment actions closely.
Barclays Chinese Deal Dismays Ethical Investors,
July 24, 2007, FinanceDaily, UK.
Islamic Shariah Indices Launched.
Barra announced that it has launched a global family
of Islamic indices designed to reflect Shariah
investment principles while retaining replicability
for international investors."
(Quote from article in link below.) This is good
news. I believe that many spiritual and ethical
investors, socially responsible investors, and
others, will welcome the launch of these indices. In
some respects, they will mirror the values of these
investors. In fact, many such investors may well be
drawn to them.
MSCI Barra launches global Islamic indices,
July 27, 2007, Khaleej Times (Online), United
This Study Fires The Debate.
A study by CNW Marketing Research Inc. looks at the
total lifecycle cost of a large number of vehicles.
You may be surprised at the conclusions. Well worth
at least a casual reading to provide some, perhaps,
hitherto unconsidered ideas as to what makes a green
vehicle. Will this study have an impact on what cars
and trucks get sold - and which car and truck
companies become winners? I doubt it. However, if
you invest in the automobile industry, you just
might want to be alert as to the impact of this
Which cars are the greenest? You’d be surprised,
by Neil Reynolds, July 27, 2007, The Globe & Mail,
Change Corp Picks Its 20 Top Climate Change
If you are looking for ethical stocks and bonds, you
might want to check-out this list of corporations
who, according to Climate Change Corp.com, are
environmental leaders. However, be sure to check
with your financial planner or investment advisor to
get help with investing.
Top 20 companies: Climate change leaders show the
way, by Mike
Scott, July 26, 2007, Climate Change Corp.com, USA.
Socially Responsible US Banking.
an useful article for Americans interested in
socially responsible banking.
Community Investing and Other Socially-Conscious
by Penny Nickel, Get Rich Slowly (blog), USA.
Investing Groups Opposing Proposed Securities &
Exchange Commission (SEC) Changes To Shareholder
It is expected that the
SEC may unveil new proposed changes to shareholder
resolutions today, July 25, as they begin their Open
Commission Hearings. It is believed that the SEC
wants to toughen the rules on the so-called
’voluntary’ shareholders resolutions. Such
resolutions have been used by many socially
responsible investing (SRI) organizations, religious
groups, NGOs, etc., to create changes in corporate
behaviour. The SEC is playing with fire if it again
tries to limit these resolutions. They failed in
1997/8 and they will likely fail again in today’s
more ethical investing friendly environment.
Groups to SEC: Hands Off Shareholder Resolution
Process for Investors,
July 24, 2005, PRNewswire-USNewswire, USA.
Chain Management Practices Interest Ethical
Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) issued an
interesting report as to how businesses can better
manage ethical and corporate social responsibility
(CSR) practices among their suppliers.
BSR Proposes Going Beyond Monitoring to Achieve
Truly Sustainable Supply Chains,
by Bill Baue, SocialFunds.com, USA.
Analyzed By Their Carbon Footprint!
Trucost Plc has just released a study measuring the
carbon footprint of the holdings of 185 UK
investment funds. The three funds with the lowest
carbon print are all socially responsible investing
(SRI) funds. Trucost is also likely to perform the
same analysis for US funds. This kind of analysis is
a real boon for ethical investing.
Counts 2007, July, 2007, Trucost Plc, UK. Also,
U.S. in line for survey ranking mutual funds by
carbon ‘footprint′, by Thao Hua, July 23, 2007,
Pensions & Investments, USA.
Marketers Pay For Advertising In Return For Good
Stories On Their Companies Or Products.
This fifth annual PRWeek/Manning Selvage & Lee
(MS&L) Marketing Management Survey polled 279 U.S.
chief marketing officers, directors of marketing and
marketing managers. It focused on ’consumer
generated media, integrated marketing and industry
ethics.’ The survey found that almost one in five senior
marketers actually saying that their organizations
bought ads in order to get favourable news stories
on their companies or products. In fact the number
is probably much higher as a lot of marketers may
not admit to it. Unethical corporate governance is
still rampant among today’s corporations.
17% Of Senior Marketers Say Their Organizations Have
Bought Advertising in Return for a News Story,
press release, July 18, 207, BusinessWire.com, USA.
Goldman Sach’s Study Indicating Stock Price
Outperformance Of Companies Selected By Their
Environmental, Social And Governance (ESG)
Goldman has developed its own ESG criteria, which
certainly shows promise. This is good reading
for all those investing in ethical stocks and
Introducing GS SUSTAIN,
Goldman Sachs, USA.
US Oil’s Top
Guns Finally Recommend Dramatically Increasing
This is quite a turn-around for big oil. A committee
of the US National Petroleum Council, headed by
current and former senior oil industry executives,
proclaimed a disturbing future for the US as world
oil supplies are increasingly stretched and the US
further reliant on imports from insecure areas of
the world. For me, the much talked about nuclear
energy power option is just too risky with
potentially devastating costs. Just look at the
situation in Japan, where the world’s largest
nuclear power station is subject to the potential of
an earthquake so large that it could destroy it -
and kill or harm millions of people globally. No
insurance company will insure a nuclear power plant.
The risks are too large and unknown. Also, I
understand that the decommissioning costs of a
nuclear plant are as much as building it and rarely
included the pricing of the energy output. I believe
our future energy solutions must come primarily from
wind and solar power, combined with a major focus on
energy conservation and efficiency.
Oil executives sound alarm about fuel use,
by Shawn McCarthy, July 19, 2007, The Globe &
In UK, 86% Of
People Worry About The Environment.
Though the number of people taking steps to
significantly reduce their environmental impact is
well under half of the UK population, the two
studies mentioned in this article gives me reason to
feel optimistic about the future. Before any new
action on a problem, people have to first become
aware of what needs to be done before they consider
acting to solve it. We see that awareness is now
there in the UK of the environmental problem, and
that activities to solve it on the individual level
are beginning to take hold. For me, the data
continue to support the notion that it is still
advantageous for green investors to seek out
environmentally conscious corporations.
Survey reveals nation of ’armchair ecologists’,
by Alison Benjamin and agencies, July 18, 2007,
Guardian Unlimited, UK.
Links Brain Structure To Spiritual Experiences.
"... neuroscientist Beauregard and journalist
O’Leary mount a sweeping critique of a trend in the
pop science media to explain away religious
experience as a brain artifact, pathology or
evolutionary quirk. While sympathizing with the
attraction such neurotheology holds, the authors
warn against the temptation to force the complex
varieties of human spirituality into simplistic
categories that they argue are conceptually crude,
culturally biased and often empirically untested. In
recently published research using Carmelite nuns as
subjects, Beauregard’s group at the University of
Montreal found specific areas of brain activation
associated with contemplative prayer." -
The Spiritual Brain: A
Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul,
by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary, HarperOne
Managers Responsible Investing Guide Website
We need to thank the UK Social Investment Forum for
compiling all this information in one place. After
reading the material here, no pension fund
manager has an excuse for not employing
environmental, social and governance (ESG) screening
practices in the management of funds. In fact, one
can easily argue that pension fund managers are not
fulfilling their fiduciary duties unless they do
include ESG screening!
Sustainable Pensions Library,
UK Social Investment Forum, UK.
Retailers Ethical Practices Studied.
To companies, the advantage of using corporate
social responsibility practices becomes clear in
reviews such as this. For ethical investors looking
for stocks that are good to invest in, it pays to
read these surveys too.
How clear is the high street’s conscience?
By Lucy Mayhew, July 18, 2007, Telegraph.co.uk. UK.
Report Cites Increasing Ethanol Demand To Increase
According to the article linked to below, 30% of US
grain production by the end of 2008 will go towards
the production of ethanol! Most of the food people
eat - dairy products, poultry, eggs, etc., rely on
corn as the primary animal feedstock. As you know,
corn prices are rocketing upward. It seems crazy why
energy conservation is not more rigorously promoted.
The reason is, unfortunately, that too many people -
and investors - have a stake in ever-expanding
energy consumption. Where do you stand on this
issue? Are you investing in carbon related
industries and therefore seek higher outputs for
higher profits? This is an interesting question for
all ethical investors, and those interested in
environmentally responsible investing.
Ethanol to fuel global food price shock,
by Robert Stockdill, July 16, 2007,
Added July 17. See also:
Corn on Corn Action, by Kevin Kerr, July 17,
2007, The Rude Awakening, USA.
Government Agency Suing Google For Deceptive Ads.
This will be an interesting legal case to follow. It
centres on deceptive advertising being placed on
Google’s pages and whether Google has the
responsibility for ensuring the legitimacy of those
ads. If Google has to vet all ads, their
administrative costs could soar and their ad
revenues may fall, thereby, potentially, negatively
affecting its profits.
Google Suit Raises Ethical Questions About Search
by Scott Karp, July 13, 2007,
Mining Report Reviews Problem Mines.
First read the article linked to below, and then if
you have the time, the study which the article is
The study really illuminates both the good and the
bad about mining ventures in the developing world.
As long as humans demand goods, mining will be with
us. For all those who will not invest in mining,
then perhaps from an ethical standpoint you should
give-up your car -- and home too! These things all
require huge amounts of stuff that comes out of the
ground. However, what we should do, as ethical
investors who believe in socially and
environmentally responsible investing, is to try and
ensure, wherever possible, that our investments go
to companies with the best possible corporate social
responsibility (CSR) practices.
PDAC report blames poor company practices, NGOs, and
corrupt governments for Canadian mining company
woes, by Jack Caldwell, July 12, 2007.
Mackey, Whole Foods Co-founder, Shows Dubious
According to reports in The Wall Street Journal
and The New York Times, Mr. Mackey, under a
pseudonym, Rahodeb, created a blog that frequently
criticized Wild Oats, possibly their principal
competitor and now a company they plan to takeover.
This kind of unethical activity from the chairman of
a company espousing high moral principles is highly
disconcerting. I believe Whole Foods shareholders
should show their displeasure with him by
campaigning to have him step down as chairman and
CEO of the company. Furthermore, from a pure
governance standpoint, no public company should have
the same individual be both board chairman and CEO.
It can lead to conflicts of interest and management
Whole Foods Executive Used Alias,
by Andrew martin, July 12, 2007, The New York
Shows All UK Demographic Groups Want To Shop & Act
"80% of consumers want to buy local food, reduce
product packaging and recycle rubbish... 26% say
they will boycott firms that damage the environment,
up from 9% in 2001" This, according to a major
survey by Henley Centre HeadlightVision. It is clear
that going green is gaining more and more momentum
in the UK and around the world. It is a very hopeful
sign, and with growing higher consciousness,
hopefully, the effects of climate change can be
80% of consumers want to buy local, recycle and have
by Peter Shield, July 10, 2007,
Social Investment Forum Announce 2007 SRI & Sustainability Survey Results.
The survey provides significant insight into how the
UK operations of some of the world’s largest
investment companies engage in socially responsible
and sustainability corporate research. According to
the survey, the leading firms in this area are Citi
Investment Research, Goldman Sachs International and
THOMSON EXTEL AND THE UK SOCIAL INVESTMENT FORUM
ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF THE SRI & SUSTAINABILITY SURVEY,
June 29, 2007, UK.
Ethical Codes Seen Mainly As Advertising, Says
Companies have to do more than just print ethical
codes of conduct. They must be seen as strongly
implementing them! This Canadian study should be an
eye-opener to all companies to seriously engage in
corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Corporate Ethical Codes Hold Little Weight, Prof
Finds, July 9, 2007, news release,
University of Guelph, Canada.
Cosmetics Go Mainstream In US.
As in the UK, natural, organic cosmetics are now
going into the stores of mass market retailers. This
is welcome news, and ethical investors may want to
take note of these developments.
US natural cosmetics go the mainstream route,
by Simon Pitman, July 9, 2007, Cosmeticsdesign.com,
Responsible Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) Gain In The
The annual fees for socially responsible ETFs can be
less than their mutual fund counterparts. This is a
useful article looking at the pros and cons of the
new ETFs which is something that all ethical
investors, and those interested in socially
responsible investing, might want to discuss with
their financial advisors. However, bear in mind that
since ETFs trade as shares, not all financial
advisors can offer them.
Socially Responsible Investing With ETFs,
by Eleanor Laise, July 8, 2007, The Wall Street
Journal online, USA.
Business Schools To Focus On Corporate Social
This report is not only a good read regarding what
the UN wants business schools around the world to
do, but also provides much more information on the
Goldman Sachs study concerning the out-performance of
shares in companies they deem to have superior
U.N. Calls For Education In Corporate
by Steve McGookin, July 6, 2007, Forbes.com, USA.
Sees 20% Gain In Sustainable Investments In 2006.
In 2007, a 35% rise is expected. The growing public
debate and interest in climate change is a major
factor in the rise of sustainable investments in the
Netherlands, according to this report. However, both
savings and investments related to sustainability
still represent only around 3% of the total funds in
savings and investments. Nonetheless, this growth,
as elsewhere, is continuing to encourage large
mainstream financial institutions to offer
environmentally and socially responsible investment
options, thereby promoting such investment vehicles
to a much larger public.
Sustainable Savings and Investments on the Rise in
July 7, 2007, NIS News Bulletin, Netherlands.
Study Shows Ethical Companies Outperform Peers.
As one of the world’s biggest stock-brokerage and
investment banking firms, the findings of their
study is likely to create considerable global
interest in ethical investing! "The study found
that companies on an ethical list compiled by
Goldman outperformed the MSCI World Index by an
average of 25 per cent, with 72 per cent of
companies outperforming their sector peers."
Quote from FT.com article in link below. Please note
an FT subscription is required to view the whole
Ethical groups outperform peers,
by Frances Williams, July 3, 2007, FT.com (Financial
Estate Developers Increasingly Adopt ’Triple Bottom
survey, conducted by the Urban Land Institute, shows
that the real estate industry, including investing
companies and developers, is increasingly adopting a
"triple bottom line" business approach that measures
success in terms of economic, social and
environmental value." I am waiting for the day
when the real estate industry adds a fourth value:
consciousness. Buildings have a major influence on
our minds and our consciousness too. The building
system that truly incorporates this value is
Real Estate Execs Land ’Responsible Property
July 5, 2007, GreenerBuildings, USA.
Most Small &
Mid-Sized UK Businesses Have No Corporate Social
Responsible (CSR) Policies.
The data in this survey suggests that small and
medium sized UK businesses do not generally
understand what CSR is and how it might benefit
them. Since the UK is a leader in CSR - and even has
a government department promoting it - it is
probably true that similarly sized businesses in
most other countries are also lagging significantly
in adopting CSR as well. Helping these companies
recognize and implement CSR policies could be a
major sales opportunity for consultants and
companies engaged in this area.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Customers key to
getting the message across, July 5, 2007,
Investment Forum (US) Launches Socially Responsible
Investment (SRI) Guide For Foundations &
Foundations in the US manage over $600
billion in assets and many of them want to
incorporate SRI in the management of those assets.
This guide is worthwhile reading, not only for
foundations, etc., but for any investor or money
manager new to SRI.
The Mission in the Marketplace,
July 2, 2007, Social Investment Forum Foundation,
And Exchange Commission (SEC) Site Lists Companies
With Dealings In States That Sponsor Terrorism.
When you click on the link below, you will see Cuba,
Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria as states that
the US says sponsor terrorism. Click on any of these
countries and you will find a list of companies that
have links or activities in that particular country.
Spiritual investors, ethical investors and socially
responsible investors, all might want to view this
list in terms of their own personal values, and take
appropriate action in accordance with those values.
Countries the Secretary of State Has Designated as
State Sponsors of Terrorism,
July, 2007, US Securities And Exchange Commission,
USA. A useful article describing this site in some
detail is the following:
Are You Spying on Your Portfolio? By S. J.
Caplan, July 2, 2007, The Motley Fool, USA.
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