Ethical Investing News/Commentaries:
Commentaries by Ron
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Values: 'Secular Spiritualists' Surpassing
'Traditional Materialists.' Markets Being Reshaped.
"The Secular Spiritualist view of the American
Dream has been adopted by Americans across the
nation, in all walks of life. They are Americans who
are becoming more satisfied with fewer material
assets and less wealth, even as the nation's harsh
economic climate has made living with less a reality
for many... The growth of Secular Spiritualism is
not simply the result of making do with new personal
and national economic realities... it is something
more: A growing rejection of a lifestyle obsessed
with consumption and too often devoid of deeper
This is important research and corresponds closely
to Paul Ray's studies. See my editorial,
Everyone Becoming a Cultural Creative.
Spiritual and ethical investors see this dramatic
change in American collective consciousness. The
best corporations to invest in long term are likely
to be those that are able to incorporate values
associated with the Secular Spiritualist/Cultural
Creative consumer. Read this article on a survey by
Zogby International and ponder the future as we
The American Dream is now simpler, by John
Zogby, December 30, 2008, Ener Pub, USA.
Wind & Solar
Energy, Biofuels, Affected By Winter Conditions.
This is a useful article for green-ethical investors
to read. It cites the difficulties that renewable
energy systems face in becoming alternative energy
sources to nuclear and fossil fuels in wintery
Solar Meets Polar as Winter Curbs Clean Energy,
by Kate Galbraith, December 25, 2008, The New
York Times, USA.
Overview/Review Of Consumption Patterns.
For long term ethical investors, this study will
give some insights as to where you might want to
invest. Read it over the holidays.
Sustainable Consumption Facts & Trends, (PDF)
December 2008, World Business Council for
Sustainable Development, Switzerland.
Green Causes Is Priority for 69% Of Wealthy US
Business Owners According To SunTrust Survey.
"In addition, business owners feel confident
about investing in environmental funds. Fifty-nine
percent believe that a 'green' investment would
generate a rate of return similar to any other
fund." This is good news for environmental
charities, green funds, as well as for ethical
stocks and bonds.
'Green' Investing Remains Priority Despite Economic
Conditions, According to SunTrust Survey of Wealthy
Business Owners, press release, December 22,
2008, Sun Trust, USA.
Finance Creates Legal Challenges.
Much has been written about the pros and cons of
Shariah based financial products for ethical
investors. One area that has received less attention
though is the legal issues it brings forth. This
article outlines some of them.
Analysis: untried courts test Malaysia's Islamic
finance appeal, by Y-Sing Liau, December 19,
2008, Reuters news posted on Exeltra
Management blog, Hong Kong.
Exchange Regulator Mandates Social Responsibility
Disclosure To Listing Rules.
"The FSC [Taiwanese Financial Supervisory
Commission] is making disclosure on social
responsibility compulsory for Taiwan-listed firms so
that investors can better understand the processes
and progress that companies are making towards
sustainability." I believe that this is the
beginning of a global trend as financial regulators
everywhere demand higher ethical, social,
environmental, and governance standards. This will
also help focus the mainstream investment community
to the benefits of ethical stocks and bonds.
Taiwan adds social responsibility disclosure to
listing rules, by Liz Mak, December 18, 2008,
Asian Investor, Hong Kong.
Joins JP Morgan & Citi In Eliminating Dedicated
Environmental, Social, & Governance (ESG) Teams.
We continue to see at play the short term
orientation of management at the large mainstream
financial institutions. It is this attitude that in
large part got us into this mess! (See my blog post,
Short Term Thinking Created Economic Pain.)
ESG is all about looking at corporate long term
problems and opportunities. Take this away and
investors are in the dark about a company's real
long term viability.
Deutsche Bank joins ESG cuts by ending corporate
governance research, by Hugh Wheelan, December
16, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.
Study Says No Difference In Performance Between
Socially Responsible (SRI) Funds And Conventional
That is what this study by France's Edhec risk and
asset management research centre concludes. However,
this would not be your impression from reading the
first part of the FT article. The article also
mentions another French study published earlier this
year by Altedia that did show SRI funds
outperforming conventional funds.
‘SRI funds not outperforming,’ by Sophie Grene,
December 14, 2008, Financial Times, UK.
Government & Major Asset Managers Survey
Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Practices
In Norwegian Companies.
"... survey received a 49% response rate from 76
Norwegian companies. On a weighted scoring system
based on 100 points, 3 companies came out as top
quartile performers: Norsk Hydro, Orkla and Statoil
Hydro." The survey was conducted by Sustainable
Value Creation (SVC), a group of major Norwegian
Norwegian investors publish ESG company survey
results, plan expansion, by Hugh Wheelan,
December 11, 2008, Responsible Investor, UK.
Publishes Its First Report Ranking Climate
Strategies Of Major Global Corporations.
"IBM, Tesco and Dell Receive Top Scores in
First-Ever Ranking of Consumer & Tech Companies on
Climate Change Strategies... Nike and Wal-Mart Post
Highest Scores in Apparel and Retail Sectors."
Investors interested in the most environmentally
conscious major corporations should look at this
report. Ceres is among the world's foremost entities
in this area.
IBM, Tesco and Dell Receive Top Scores in First-Ever
Ranking of Consumer & Tech Companies on Climate
Change Strategies, December 11, 2008, Ceres,
Social Responsibility (CSR) Among Hang Seng Listed
"Companies listed on the Hang Seng Index
represent roughly sixty-five percent of total
capitalisation in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange... So
it is disappointing to note that the majority of
Hong Kong top listed companies fail to adopt sound
corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and
practices... certain companies with excellent CSR...
HSBC ranked first out of all Hang Seng Index-listed
companies with a total score of 93 percent, followed
by CLP Holdings (84 percent) and China Mobile (82
percent)." It is wonderful to see the interest
in CSR in Asia. From the following article,
investors can see how all Hang Seng companies are
rated. Research was conducted by Oxfam.
Most top Hong Kong-listed companies fail test on
CSR, by Jacqui Dixon, December 12, 2008, CSR
Asia, Hong Kong.
Signatories With $1.5 Trillion In Assets Ask
Starbucks, GlaxoSmithKline and Carlsberg Group, And
Others, To Disclose Water Use Policies. -
"[UNPRI has asked] 100 of the
world’s leading corporates to disclose their
policies on water use and make structural
improvements where possible or necessary.... the
investors said they believed that companies that
manage the risks and opportunities presented by
limited global water availability are more likely to
be viable long-term investments."
United Nations Principles for Responsible
Investment, is an investor alliance which includes
some of the world's largest asset managers. This
initiative by the group is commendable. Water
shortages loom, water pollution and costs are increasing. Companies must take this
issue seriously. Ethical investors looking for the
best socially responsible stocks to invest in will
want to see how the companies contacted by UNPRI
1.5 trillion dollar investor alliance pushes
Starbucks, GSK, Carlsberg and peers on water
policies, by Hugh Wheelan, December 9, 2008,
Responsible Investor, UK.
Like Citi, Cuts Dedicated Environmental, Social &
Governance (ESG) Research Team. -
Though JP Morgan says the research will now be done
more generally throughout its research group, it
is clear their commitment to ESG research was
skin-deep. Since ESG issues frequently involve
longer-term factors, it seems to underscore the
short term orientation of the firm, which is wholly
typical of the mainstream investment industry. (I
will soon be posting to my
Enlightened Economics blog a post with the
title: "Short Term Thinking Created Economic
JP Morgan ends dedicated ESG research coverage,
by Hugh Wheelan, December 9, 2008, Responsible
French, & Dutch Institutional Investor Survey Reveals
Attitudes Towards ESG Issues. -
"In France, more than 70% of surveyed investors
believe they are responsible for the corporate ESG
policies of the companies in which they are
shareholders—nearly as many as in the UK." This
survey, sponsored by Novethic and BNP Paribas,
provides fascinating insight into the minds of
institutional investors in key European ethical
Institutional Investors’ Perspective on their
Responsibility for Corporate ESG Policies,
December 2008, Novethic/BNP Paribas, France.
As Germany's Most Sustainable Brand. -
Henkel received this award at Germany's first ever
German Sustainability Congress. The advantages of
using corporate social responsibility were seen
early on by the company.
Henkel Named Germany's 'Most Sustainable Brand,'
press release, December 8, 2008, PRNewswire,
Largest Database Of Corporate Environmental, Social,
& Governance (ESG) Reports To Be Online In Spring of
"PRI [United Nations Principles for Responsible
Investment (UNPRI)] signatories have told the
initiative that one of the biggest barriers to the
growth of ESG integration into investment is the
availability of good quality research." UNPRI
members represent many of the world's biggest banks
and investment firms. They collectively manage $18
trillion in assets. This could represent a landmark
development in the use of ESG by the mainline
PRI launches ESG broker research database, by
Hugh Wheelan, December 4, 2008, Responsible
Accountants Promoting Enhanced Climate Change
"The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
(CICA) has published a new document in response to a
growing demand for guidance relating to Management
Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) disclosures. The
publication, Building a Better MD&A – Climate Change
Disclosures (PDF), helps companies provide useful
and relevant information to investors."
Hopefully, this will mean greater disclosure by
Canadian companies concerning their climate change
initiatives and impacts.
Canada’s CAs provide climate change disclosure
guidance, December 1, 2008, press release,
Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, Canada.
Sign-On To New Environmental Regulatory Pact.
"Crédit Agricole, HSBC, Munich Re, Standard
Chartered and Swiss Re [are among the] first firms to sign up to
standards that could see them refuse financing to
projects that fail to disclose carbon emissions."
These financial institutions know the advantages of
using corporate social responsibility!
Global banking giants sign up to climate principles,
by Tom Young, December 1, 2008, Business Green, UK.
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