Ethical Investing News/Commentaries:
Commentaries by Ron
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GreenBiz Launches US Green
Confidence Index. -
"Today marks the launch of a new monthly index,
the Green Confidence Index, aimed at tracking
Americans' attitudes about and confidence in their
leaders and institutions, nationally and locally, on
the subject of environmental responsibility, as well
as in their own understanding of issues and their
willingness to make green purchasing choices. It is
the first comprehensive monthly tracking of
consumers' green attitudes and purchasing." This
will be interesting to watch!
Introducing ... the Green Confidence Index,
introduction by Joel Makower, October 27, 2009,
87% Of UK Financial Advisers Now
Advise On Green & Ethical Investments, Up From 70%
In 2008. -
"A survey of IFAs, commissioned by National
Ethical Investment Week and the Association of
Independent Financial Advisers, shows the number of
advisers that believe there is adequate information
about green and ethical investments has doubled in
the last 12 months, from 15 per cent last year to 34
per cent. The proportion of advisers that think
there is only limited information about ethical
investments has fallen to 26 per cent, down from 45
per cent in 2008." Investment in ethical stocks
and bonds continues to show great progress in the
87% of IFAs advise on ethical investments, by
Nicole Blackmore, October 30, 2009, Money
Moskowitz Prize For Socially
Responsible Investing Awarded. -
"The 2009 Moskowitz Prize for Socially
Responsible Investing, announced at this week's SRI
in the Rockies conference, has been awarded to David
P. Baron, Professor of Political Economy and
Strategy at Stanford... Baron examines the
relationships between corporate financial
performance (CFP), corporate social performance (CSP),
and social pressure, during the last four years of
the Clinton administration and the first four years
of the Bush administration... [He found] 'the
negative effect of social pressure on CFP is due to
the Bush years.'"
His work makes fascinating reading
for anyone interested in corporate social
performance and its potential relationship to
corporate financial performance.
Stanford Professor Receives 2009 Moskowitz Prize,
by Robert Kropp, October 28, 2009, SocialFunds, USA.
North American Companies Getting
Climate Change Message. -
"EIRIS (www.eiris.org) finds that the vast
majority of North American companies operating in
sectors with a high carbon footprint now have a
corporate-wide policy on climate change (91%
compared to 93% at the global level). However, North
American companies still lag behind their global
peers in terms of implementing concrete measures to
respond to the challenges of climate change." It
is likely that the new US position on climate change
is positively influencing North American companies
to be more environmentally focused. However, it would be nice
to think that this is something they are doing from
their own awareness of the problem rather than
having been coaxed into it by governments.
EIRIS: North American Companies Catching up on
Climate Change, press release, October 27, 2009,
EIRIS, UK. For a good review of the report, see
Are North American Companies Improving Their Climate
Change Performance? By Robert Kropp, October 27,
2009, SocialFunds.com, USA.
Canadian Banks, Insurers, Sign-Up
For Non Binding 'Say On Pay' Shareholder
"Thirteen of Canada's largest companies have
agreed to allow shareholders to vote on a common
resolution on executive compensation, and more are
expected to sign up before the annual meeting season
begins in the spring, shareholder and investor
groups said on Monday." This is a good
change in attitude by management of the companies
involved and will only help them being seen as
socially responsible and thereby gain more support among
socially responsible/ethical investors.
Big Canada companies sign up for votes on exec pay,
by Andrea Hopkins, October 26, 2009, The Globe &
Big Majority Of Institutional
Investors Say 'Moral Hazard' Has Increased. -
"More than 90% of institutional investors
questioned in a unique survey of market participants
believe financial markets are now threatened by
increased ‘moral hazard’ – the belief that banks and
other investors will take excessive risks based on
implicit government guarantees... However, just
under a third of these same investors (28%) are
pessimistic that the right lessons from the crisis
have been learnt to avoid future market blowouts.
And 80.5% said the response of regulators has so far
fallen short of what is needed to fix the system."
The only real way to solve our
current dilemma is for us to realize that real inner
happiness can arise from within and be relatively
independent of whatever material possessions we may
have. Until this realization comes and actions taken
to create it, this current crisis may well morph from
crises to crises. (See my Enlightened Economics
The Missing Ingredient In Economics—Consciousness!)
86 per cent of institutional investors say they
share blame for crisis: NSFM/AQ/RI survey, by
Hugh Wheelan, October 25, 2009, Responsible
Most Portfolio Managers Shun
Their Funds. -
"According to a series of recent studies by
Morningstar Inc., funds whose managers invest $1
million or more of their own money in their fund
ranked in the 42nd performance percentile, on
average, over the five-year period through July.
That means they outperformed 58% of their peers.
Funds whose managers own no shares ranked, on
average, in the 54th percentile." The message
here for ethical investors is look to see if the
managers of the funds you own or are about to buy,
actually own some themselves!
Most portfolio managers shun their own funds, by
Dan Jamieson, October 25, 2009, Investment News,
Report Says That 17 Million
Natural Gas Powered Vehicles On The Road By 2015.
"The report, Natural Gas Vehicles, forecasts that
the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for U.S. NGV
sales will be 17.7 percent between 2008 and 2015,
which translates into 31,347 vehicles (including
conversions) sold in 2015. The global NGV market
will grow at a CAGR of 5.5 percent to reach just
over 3 million vehicles (including conversions) by
2015. Although there has been technology advances
and readily available natural gas, NGVs are still
not widely accepted as a transportation fuel in many
parts of the world, according to the report." It
is clear that many types of
engines and fuel systems will be available to power
automobiles and trucks in the next few years. What
is unclear is which ones will be the leaders.
17 Million Natural Gas Vehicles Predicted by 2015,
October 22, 2009, lohas.com, USA.
Looking For A Business
School That Emphasizes CSR? See This List. Canada's
York University Is Tops, Followed By The University
Of Michigan & Yale. -
"The Aspen Institute today releases the 2009-2010
edition of Beyond Grey Pinstripes, a biennial survey
and popular alternative ranking of full-time MBA
programs. This year, 149 business schools from 24
countries participated in an 18 month effort to map
the landscape of teaching and research on issues
pertaining to business and society."
Congratulations to the Schulich School of
Business at York University in Toronto, Canada.
Alternative Business School Rankings Announced,
October 22, 2009, lohas.com, USA.
Company Online CSR Reports Found
how well 91 members of the Dow Jones Sustainability
Index use their corporate websites as a platform for
CSR communication. Each website was assessed using a
set of 76 evaluation criteria, drawn up on the basis
of a survey conducted by Lundquist of 184 CSR
professionals and sector experts from 30 different
countries. The consultancy reports that most of the
companies studied provided only a limited range of
pertinent information online and fail to use the web
to anything like its full potential."
Apparently, Italian oil and gas
company Enl, together with UBS and Shell, have the
best online reports. If companies are to maximize
the advantages of using corporate social
responsibility it behooves them to optimize their
web presence, especially for ethical investors.
Damning report into online sustainability reporting,
by Jo Confino, October 22, 2009, The Guardian, UK.
US Foundations Increasing Their
Socially Responsible Investments. -
"A survey of 39 foundations that are part of the
More for Mission network reveals important new data
regarding leading foundations and their level of
commitment to a socially responsible investment
practice most often called mission investing.
Mission investors seek investments that use their
endowments to further their organizational mission."
It has always puzzled me how foundations frequently
invest most of their endowment funds in companies
whose activities often run counter to their
interests. So it is welcome news that they are
beginning to align their investments with their
missions. This makes them a big potential buyer of
ethical stocks and bonds.
Many Foundations to Increase Commitment to Mission
Investing, press release, October 22, 2009,
Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship,
Between 1926-2006 Sin Stocks
Provided Additional 2.5% Higher Returns. -
"In their paper, 'The Price of Sin: The Effects
of Social Norms on Markets,' NYU Stern Assistant
Professor of Finance Marcin Kacperczyk and his
co-author, Harrison Hong from Princeton University,
examine the performance of stocks from 1926-2006.
They find that investors gain 2.5% higher returns
every year (on a risk-adjusted basis) by investing
in 'sin' stocks - publicly traded companies involved
in the so-called industry 'Triumvirate of Sin':
alcohol, tobacco, and gaming - versus investing in
stocks with comparable characteristics, such as
beverage, food, and entertainment companies,
Past performance is no indication
of future performance, is the phrase repeated many
times when you view investment opportunities. I
believe this phrase is quite pertinent to this
New Study Finds That Investors Gain 2.5% a Year by
Investing in Sin Stocks, press release, October
21, 2009, NYU Stern, USA.
India Honours Its CSR Leaders.
Ethical investors interested in Indian companies
might like to review this article.
9 companies bag social responsibility awards,
October 20, 2009, ExpressBuzz, India.
New Site For Canadian
"Socialfinance.ca is an online community for all
issues related to social finance in Canada and
internationally. It will serve as a central online
platform for the community of the people and
organizations that are advancing the development of
a social finance marketspace in Canada." The
site's sponsors include academic, government, and
private organizations. Its content will appeal
particularly to ethical investors with social and
Disney & Microsoft Top Boston
College-Reputation Institute's 2009 CSR Index.
Financial Companies Fall.
"Companies in the financial sector tumbled to the
bottom of the Boston College-Reputation Institute
2009 CSR Index while top consumer brands perceived
to be strong in the area of ethics, citizenship and
workplace practices dominate the top 50... Released
today by the Boston College Center for Corporate
Citizenship and Reputation Institute, the index
shows the Walt Disney Company in the top position
followed by Microsoft, Google, Honda of America,
Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo., General Mills, Kraft
Foods, Campbell Soup Company and FedEx, rounding out
the top 10."
Consumers Becoming More Trusting
Of Green Product Messaging.
"While half of U.S. consumers still look for
proof regarding a company's green claims, the trends
suggest that consumers are more trusting of green
marketing and communications than they were a few
years ago. In 2006, nearly two-thirds of consumers
said they wanted proof of green claims, declining to
just over half of adults in NMI's most recent 2009
U.S. LOHAS Consumer Trends Database® research."
In many ways this is good news as it implies greater
consumer acceptance of green products and that
companies are endeavoring to be more honest in their
promotion of green products and services.
Are Consumers More Trusting of Corporate Green
Claims? October 15, 2009, lohas.com, USA.
KLD, One Of The Great Names In
SRI, In Talks To Be Purchased By RiskMetrics.
"RiskMetrics Group, the New York-listed US risk
management and corporate governance group is
readying itself to make its second major acquisition
this year in the ESG (environmental, social and
governance) research space by buying Boston-based
KLD Research & Analytics." It seems the
consolidation and globalization of ESG/SRI firms
continues apace. I believe that this is good for
ethical investors as they will find greater
competencies available to them.
RiskMetrics primed to buy KLD, by Hugh Wheelan,
October 13, 2009, Responsible Investor, UK.
EIRIS (Update 1). 90% Of Wealth
Managers Surveyed Said Responsible Portfolios
Performed As Well Or Better Than Other Investments.
"Based on a survey of the global readership of
WealthBriefing and featuring comment and analysis
from a panel of prominent RI experts, the report
explodes the performance myth that responsible
investments under-perform. It identifies a growing
awareness of environmental, social and governance
issues amongst HNW individuals and finds that the
financial crisis has had a positive effect on the
view that wealth managers take towards RI. Over half
of wealth managers included in the survey reported
that the current financial situation has lead to
them taking governance issues and a potentially
tighter regulatory framework into account within
their clients’ portfolios."
The EIRIS survey again supports
the view that responsible or ethical
investments continue to gain ground, promising
better returns for ethical stocks and bonds over the
Responsible Investing and Wealth Management:
Opportunities for the future, October 12, 2009,
UK Survey Cites Lack Of Demand
For Green Investments Among Fund Managers.
"FairPensions, the campaign group, found that
while 89% of respondents regard climate change as an
'important' or 'very important' investment issue,
they say they are prevented from taking action by
short-term analysis and 'lack of demand' from
pension funds and other clients." Have things
changed at all in the investment world? This survey
of fund managers still shows that short-termism
in regard to investment decisions.
UK fund managers cite lack of client demand as green
investing barrier – survey, by Daniel
Brooksbank, October 12, 2009, Responsible
Canadian Companies Increase
Carbon Related Management Efforts.
"Canada's largest publicly traded companies are
preparing for anticipated climate change policies by
increasing their carbon management efforts each
year, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project
2009: Canada 200 Report. The Canadian findings of
the global Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
initiative are being released today at Conference
Board of Canada events in Toronto, Montreal and
Calgary. 'Canadian companies now see more
opportunities than risks from climate change, a
significant change in sentiment since the Conference
Board first conducted the CDP in Canada in 2006.'"
EIRIS Says 65% Of UK Wealth
Managers Have Less Than 5% Of Client Funds In
Socially Responsible Investments.
"The financial crisis has increased wealth
managers’ awareness of responsible investing,
according to new research. A third of wealth
managers are more likely to offer responsible, or
'ethical', investments to their richest clients as a
result of the credit crunch, according to a report
to be published on Monday by independent researchers
Eiris." The UK's FT seems to have a scoop on a
new report by EIRIS to be published on Monday. I
will look for it and keep you posted on its
Responsible investing: Ethical dilemma, by Alice
Ross, October 9, 2009, FT.com, UK.
Increasing Number Of Companies
Measuring Their Carbon Footprint.
"Over 300 global companies, including 31
specialized carbon companies that act as carbon
market intermediaries, responded to a survey
published recently by EcoSecurities, ClimateBiz, and
Baker & McKenzie, which sought to identify corporate
trends in carbon management and offsetting. The
survey, entitled Carbon Management and Offsetting
Trends Survey Results 2009, is the second published
by the organizations, and the first since the global
economic crisis. Despite the effects of the crisis,
the number of respondents to the survey increased by
more than 400% since its predecessor was published
in early 2008, with a marked increase in
participation of North American companies noted."
Companies increasingly realize that for good
stakeholder relationships they need to be
proactive in managing their carbon usage.
Survey Finds a Majority of Corporate Respondents
Measuring Their Carbon Footprints, by Robert
Kropp, October 7, 2009, SocialFunds, USA.
Global Investment In Renewable
Energy Down Near 40% In 2009 Over 2008.
"United Nations Industrial Development
Organization Director General Kandeh Yumkella said
annual investments in renewable energy, especially
hydroelectric projects, soared more than fourfold to
$155 billion between 2004 and 2008, but have dropped
in 2009. 'Due to the current economic crisis we have
seen almost a 40 percent decline in 2009 alone in
these investments,' Yumkella told the opening a of a
global conference on green energy in the central
Mexican city of Leon." With oil prices
increasing and government green stimulus funding
just getting started the outlook for 2010 may well
UN says renewable energy investment down in 2009,
October 7, 2009, Reuters, Mexico.
Hindus & Jews Denounce Church Of
England's Stand On Supporting Hedge Funds.
"Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi
Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in
Nevada and California in USA; in a statement in
Nevada today, asked how the funds which Church
termed as 'bank robbers' in the past had suddenly
become saviors, and the mighty Church had become
lobbyist for these 'former robbers'".
If you read the Church's statement they are saying
that in the new EU proposal entitled, Alternative
Investment Directive, EU investors will only be
allowed to invest in hedge funds that are domiciled
in the EU. Presently around 90% of them are 'headquartered'
outside the EU. However, the fact that the Church
has been so critical of institutions like hedge
funds and then turns around to seemingly support
them, does sound hypocritical.
Church of England's new mission: to save hedge funds
-Times Online by Ruth Gledhill, October 7, 2009,
Timesonline, UK. Also see
Hindus & Jews denounce Church of England for
blessing hedge funds, October 8, 2009, Punjab
Sovereign Wealth Funds Comprising
Near 10% Of Global Stocks Favour Ethical Investing.
"And greater involvement of sovereign wealth
funds (SWFs), who already own nearly 10 percent of
global stock markets, might create a virtuous cycle
for the SRI industry, boosting performance and
encouraging other investors to follow suit."
Well what more can I say! The long term prospects
for ethical stocks and bonds are bright. However,
though I have not written about this lately, the
short to medium term outlook for developed world
economies and their stock markets could be very,
Sovereign funds to boost ethical investing and
SWFs and ethical investing: serving multitude of
objectives, by Natsuko Waki, October 5, 2009,
Global Accounting Body Issues
Follow-Up Discussion Paper For Fund Fiduciaries
Regarding Incorporating Climate Change In Their
This is important reading for any fund manager.
Pension Fund Trustees and Climate Change: One-Year
On, October 2009, Association of Chartered
Certified Accountants, UK.
Novethic Rates French Funds
According To Ethical Investing Criteria.
249 French funds have been rated. See them at
Chercher un fonds ISR, France.
Steelcase & Whirlpool Are Sector
Leaders In Addressing Climate Change, Says Climate
"The two companies took top honors in the latest
Climate Counts Company Scorecards, meant to give
concerned consumers an idea of corporate climate
commitments to inform their purchasing decisions."
Ethical investors looking for green stocks that are
good to invest in might want to review this report.
Steelcase and Whirlpool Emerge as Sector Climate
Leaders, September 30, 2009, ClimateBiz, USA.
The Ten Leading Green Brands
According To Consumers.
"Last summer, a group of agencies owned by the
giant marketing and communications company WPP --
the PR firm Cohn & Wolfe, branding experts Landor
Associates and pollster-consultants Penn, Schoen &
Berland Associates (PSB) -- joined with Esty
Environmental Partners, a consulting firm run by
Yale prof and author Dan Esty, to survey about 5,000
consumers around the world about green products,
companies and brands." Well here are the brands
consumers chose: 1. Clorox Green Works; 2. Burt's
Bees; 3. Tom's of Maine; 4. SC Johnson; 5. Toyota;
6. P&G; 7. Wal-Mart; 8. Ikea; 9. Disney; and 10.
America's 10 Greenest Brands? By Marc Gunther,
September 29, 2009,
New Global SRI/Ethical Investing
"The Global Impact Investing Network is a
not-for-profit organization dedicated to increasing
the effectiveness of impact investing. Impact
investments aim to solve social or environmental
challenges while generating financial profit."
This portal has big money philanthropists behind it
such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
and Calvert Foundation. Click
Global Impact Investing Network.
The UK's National Ethical
Investment Week, November 8-14, Has New Website.
"[UK's] National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW)
is a campaign to ensure that everyone knows that
they have green and ethical options when it comes to
their finance and investment decisions. NEIW brings
together Advisers, Charities and Trusts, Financial
Organisations, Faith Groups, NGOS and Community
Groups to spread the word about green and ethical
investing." For UK investors, this special week
of events offers them another way of finding about
how to invest in ethical funds, stocks and bonds.
Moneyfacts Names Ecclesiastical
Investment Management Best UK Ethical Investment
"Ecclesiastical Investment Management was named
the Best Ethical Investment Provider at the 2009
Investment, Life & Pensions Moneyfacts Awards."
Congratulations to Ecclesiastical Investment
Management! I find it intriguing the lack of
American organizations offering such awards for
socially responsible investing in the US.
Ecclesiastical wins ethical investment award, by
David Masters, October 2, 2009, Finance Markets,
Investors Returning to Green Tech
"Deloitte's Cleantech Group said Wednesday that
third-quarter investment in the sector totaled $1.6
billion in 134 companies in North America, Europe,
China and India. The amount was 42 percent less than
the year-ago total but was 10 percent more than the
previous quarter. North American companies received
$1.1 billion, which was about 42 percent less than
the third quarter of 2008 but up 8 percent from the
previous quarter." With oil prices increasing,
the green tech/energy sector is likely to see
Deloitte: Investors return to 'cleantech' sector,
by Fabian Pattberg, October 1, 2009, Sustainability
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