A Review Of US Clean Energy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). – [COMMENTARY] ETFs are funds that trade like a stock, and now there are a growing number of them that specialize in clean energy. One advantage of ETFs is that they generally have lower management fees. Always get help with investing from a qualified investment advisor though.
ETFs for Clean Energy Fans, by Vaughan Scully, August 27, 2007, appeared on Businessweek.com; source Standard & Poor’s, USA.
Survey Shows UK Companies Having Difficulty Going Green. – [COMMENTARY] Kyocera, the Japanese printer company just released results of a UK survey of large UK companies and found that the number of ’green practices’ in those companies was down 13% from 1993. Furthermore, “One-fifth of those surveyed said they scrutinised suppliers for environmental credentials and one-third said they would pay extra for environmentally sound products and services. But in 1993 this figure was 60%. Kyocera believes this lack of interest in green purchasing has more to do with the subject′s complexity than apathy.” There is lots of discussion concerning environmentally conscious major corporations in this article and it is a worthwhile read for all green investors. See article at:
Climate change and the environment: UK business turns a paler shade of green, August 30, 2007, ClimateChange.org, UK.
UK Ethical Funds Outperform Mainstream Funds For Past Three Years. – [COMMENTARY] According to the magazine Investment, Life & Pensions, for the three years prior to July 31, 2007, ethical funds returns were 57.2% compared to 52.39% for mainstream funds and 48.02% for the FTSE 100. For the 12 months to July 31, 2007, ethical funds gained 18.36%, mainstream funds 13.73% and the FTSE 100 13.28%. Investing in ethical stocks and bonds is certainly providing good returns for UK ethical investors!
Investors reap ethical rewards, by Hilary Osborne, August 29, 2007, Guardian Unlimited, UK.
Yahoo! Being Sued For Divulging Names To Chinese Government. – [COMMENTARY] So is Yahoo! an ethical company or not? Should a company conform to government laws even if those laws offend basic human rights? Ethical investors are regularly faced with such decisions concerning investments. The situation with Yahoo! demonstrates the importance of ethics and global business decisions.
Yahoo! sued over disclosure of Chinese citizens’ identities, by Mark Tran, August 28, 2007, Guardian Unlimited, UK. In a related story, Yahoo!, MSN, and Microsoft, are all engaged in Chinese press freedom issues too. See: CPJ News Alert 2007, August 27, 2008, Committee To Protect Journalists, USA.
Does Your Ethical Mutual Fund/Unit Trust Conform To Your Values? – [COMMENTARY] The press release linked to below reminds ethical investors, socially responsible investors, green investors, etc., to truly delve into their investments to see if they really do reflect their personal values. Investors should also ask: Who should invest my money!
CHOICE warns on “responsible investment”, press release, August 27, 2007, Australia.
Ocean Based Methane A Key To Our Energy Problems? – [COMMENTARY] Big money is going into this research and the article in The Economist magazine provides a quick overview of it. Intuitively, at this time, I believe we should still focus on renewables such as wind and solar. The production of oceanic methane could carry with it enormous environmental and other risks. Nonetheless, the buzz about oceanic methane will get loud indeed in the years ahead.
Methane Hydrates (Clathrates) Could Power The World, August 27, 2007, posted on www.environmental-economics.blogspot.com, sourced from The Economist, UK.
Ethical Investments In The FTSE 350. – [COMMENTARY] This article focuses on what its authors believe are the best ethical investments in the London FTSE 350 index. It is a collaboration of The Observer’s Good Companies Guide and research compiled by Co-operative Investments. This is a helpful list for ethical investors interested in finding UK ethical stocks and bonds. Always get help with investing from your investment advisor though.
The good, the bad and the FTSE, by Ruth Sunderland, Heather Stewart and Zoe Wood, August 26, 2007, The Observer, UK.
Green Buildings Cost Much Less Than You Think. – [COMMENTARY] A study by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) found not only was green building much less expensive than many believed, but that it also saved more in operating costs than had been foreseen previously.
“Green” building costs overestimated, study finds, R744.com, August 24, 2007. For actual study, see: Facts and Trends: Energy & Efficiency in Buildings, August 2007, World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Study Argues For Clean Energy. – [COMMENTARY] Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) have completed a significant study that persuasively argues for green energy. Green investors should read this as it may help them find the best socially responsible stocks to invest in.
FUTURE INVESTMENT: A SUSTAINABLE INVESTMENT PLAN FOR THE POWER SECTOR TO SAVE THE CLIMATE, July, 2007, Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
What Is The Social Responsibility Of Business? – [COMMENTARY] I recently came across this old article. Despite its age, the article featuring the thoughts of three fascinating people, Milton Friedman (American Nobel Laureate in Economics who unfortunately passed-away last November), Whole Foods’ John Mackey, and Cypress Semiconductor’s T.J. Rodgers. The advantage of using corporate social responsibility towards social ends is deeply discussed and will interest anyone engaged in ethical investing or who consider themselves as socially responsible investors.
Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business, November 2005, Reason Magazine, USA.
Are UK Banks’ Climate Change Policies Mostly PR? – [COMMENTARY] This article and the reports it cites indicate that UK banks (and many other businesses) are still not taking climate change seriously. My suspicion is that the banks are leery of going too far down this path as it could hinder relationships with their clients. Many businesses who do not want to think about climate change impacts on their activities might ’shop-around’ to do business at a bank with the least onerous climate/environmental policies. For this reason, true socially conscious banks are rare.
UK banks â€“ dedicated followers of carbon fashion? By Deborah Smith, August 24, 2007, ClimateChangeCorp.com, UK.
Canadian Socially Responsible Fund Buying Back Asset-Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP). – [COMMENTARY] Meritas Financial Inc. whose funds invest in ethical stocks and bonds, is buying back all its ABCP in its money market and other funds. Many money market funds hold such investments. With the advent of the turmoil in the ABCP market, investors have been bailing out of any money market fund that might contain ABCPs and buying short-term government investments, such as treasury bills. It is clear that asset backed instruments are going through a re-pricing as the risk of the asset backing them is being re-evaluated.
Meritas Financial Inc. Announces Efforts to Relieve Clients of ABCP Uncertainty, August 22, 2007, Canada.
94% Of Public Companies To Negotiate Green Clauses In Future Outsourcing Agreements. – [COMMENTARY] A survey by the Brown-Wilson Group of Florida, which studies the outsourcing industry, indicates a huge move by North American and European companies to go green in their outsourcing. Recipients of outsourcing contracts in India and China are therefore encouraged to go green as well. Looking for the best corporation to invest in has now gotten a lot harder!
More Companies Want Outsource Vendors to Green Operations, August 20, 2007, GreenBiz.com, USA.
UK Consumers Desire ’Green’ – Yet Few Buy Green Financial Products. – [COMMENTARY] According to this survey by Beacon Asset Management, 73% of consumers know about green financial products but only 15% use them. Only 19% of consumers specifically knew about green investment products. This confirms my belief that the quest for ethical stocks and bonds, for green funds, etc., is still in its infancy, not only in the UK, but also all around the world.
Consumers not embracing green financial products – UK, August 6, 2007, Mortgageintroducer.com, UK.
US Federal Judge Rejects Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Arguments – Gives Green Light To Whole Foods Takeover Of Wild Oats. – [COMMENTARY] The FTC was trying to block the deal as it felt that Whole Foods would yield monopolistic power in some areas in the US. I have said before that the FTC’s arguments were ridiculous. I am glad to see that the judge also felt the same way.
Whole Foods closing in on Wild Oats, August 17, 2007, AP in The Globe & Mail, Canada.
US Bureau Of Land Management Announces Winners Of Best Sustainable Development Practices Among Energy Companies. – [COMMENTARY] The winners are: BP America, Dawson Geophysical, Encana Oil & Gas (USA), and Williams Exploration. If you are interested in environmentally responsible investing, have a look at this press release.
BLM Honors Energy Companies for Sustainable Development Practices, August 14, 2007, press release, USA.
70% Of American Workers Do Not Consider A Prospective Employer’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programs Important – But 46% Believe An Employer Should Have Them Anyway! – [COMMENTARY] This survey was by Hudson, an American recruitment group. I believe it shows the continuing and growing desire by American workers to work for companies with good CSR policies. CSR continues to make great inroads among US companies as the proliferation of non-financial reports, now more and more called environmental, social and governance (ESG) reports, gathers pace.
CSR has little impact on employment decisions, by Brian Amble, August 15, 2007, Management-Issues, USA.
New Insights Into English Attitudes Towards The Environment. – [COMMENTARY] This survey by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is a comprehensive survey of English attitudes towards their environment. There is lots of data and charts to stimulate our thinking. If you are interested in ethical investing and looking for stocks to invest in, you might at least get an angle of what industries could benefit from the insights you glean from this survey.
2007 survey of public attitudes and behaviours toward the environment, August 14, 2007, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK Government, UK. For commentary on this survey, see: 2007 DEFRA environment survey shows people don′t walk the talk, by Peter Shield, August 15, 2007, NaturalChoices.co.uk. UK.
Study: European & Asian Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Funds Under-Perform Benchmarks, Whereas US And UK SRI Funds Show Little Difference To Their Benchmarks. – [COMMENTARY] This global study is the first of its kind. And I welcome comments from readers on it. The basic point I gather from this work is that there are huge differences in gains between SRI funds and that investors or investment advisors are not able to distinguish which funds will outperform the others. This drives home two points I have always made: (1) Selecting a fund, (or stocks that are good to invest in), is ultimately dependent upon one’s clarity of consciousness and depth of awareness. And, (2) that as global consciousness rises, the companies with the highest ethics will tend to outperform their competitors, and that this has yet to be tested over time. To assist with the developing our consciousness, I encourage ethical investors to look into Transcendental Meditation (TM). Also, consider enrolling in our Ethical Investing Services and Workshops. See this study at:
The Price of Ethics: Evidence from Socially Responsible Mutual Funds, by Luc Renneboog, Jenke ter Horst, Chendi Zhang, published by the Social Science Research Network.
Ethical Funds Continue Growth Trend In UK. – [COMMENTARY] “Ethical Funds have grown from Â£4.26bn in the second quarter of 2006 to their present record at Â£5.6 billion.” This, a 31% increase in one year, is according to Britain’s Investment Management Association, quoted in the linked article below. However, it still represents only about 1.1% of funds under management in the UK. It strikes me that the real holdup to even greater success to ethical investing everywhere are the built-in biases of the mainstream investment industry.
32% annual growth for ethical investment, by Peter Shield, August 13, 2007, NaturalChoices.co.uk, UK.
New Free UK Company Report Service. – [COMMENTARY] Free Company Reports & Accounts is a free, new, UK service covering some 3,000 UK public companies. Environmental, social and governance reports are sometimes also included in their database.
Download Free Annual Reports, August, 2007, UK.
Water Industries Attracting Large Funds. – [COMMENTARY] Water is growing scarcer and more polluted around the world. Companies engaged in water systems and purification is frequently seen by some ethical investors as offering stocks that are good to invest in. According to Global Water Intelligence in the UK, assets in water funds have experienced a 53% gain in the past 12 months.
Very Liquid Assets, by Alexandra A. Seno, August 20-27 issue, NewsWeek International Edition, UK.
Religious Investors Turning To Wall Street With Zeal. – [COMMENTARY] No longer are religious activists satisfied with boycotts, etc., to get their message across to corporate America. With their new found substantial financial clout, they are bringing changes to corporations via the boardroom and Wall Street. I welcome this approach as it is resulting in greater transparency of corporate actions as well as showing companies the advantage of using corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies.
Religious Investments, by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, August 11, 2007, The Washington Post, USA. Also, along the same theme: Resolved: Public Corporations Shall Take Us Seriously, by Daska Slater, August 12, 2007, The New York Times, USA.
Opportunities For Socially Responsible Investing In Africa. – [COMMENTARY] Thomas Kostigen of MarketWatch interviews RogersCasey about the opportunities for investment in Africa. With the world hungry for resources, Africa, with its huge resource endowment but yet with its ever present poverty, is ready for socially responsible investment funds.
Socially-responsible investment opportunities emerge in Africa, by Thomas Kostigen, August 9, 2007, MarketWatch, USA.
India Attracts Islamic Oriented Funds. – [COMMENTARY] Shariah funds are being attracted to India. Funds based on Shariah principles have much in common with ethical investing. It is useful for ethical investors to be aware of such personal/spiritual/religious values oriented investing elsewhere in the world. In understanding it, we may see additional investment options open up for ourselves. Always get help with investing from a qualified investment advisor though.
Islamic funds bullish on India, by Zeeshan Ahmed, August 9, 2007, rediffnews, India.
Market Turmoil. Ethics Of Credit Market Participants A Central Issue. – [COMMENTARY] From my perspective, the turmoil in the financial markets revolves around ethics. Participants in the credit and debt markets receive massive financial incentives to create innumerable types of new financial instruments that totally ignore reality. As the pitiful ethics are exposed, trust vanishes, and financial instruments are properly ’marked to market’ rather than some mathematicians hypothetical ’marked to model’. As the true market prices become known, financial markets adjust downwards to accommodate reality and many financial institutions receive major hits to their profits. Most ethical investors up to now have been completely ignorant of this risk in the financial institutions that they have invested in. It is time now for everyone to work with their investment advisors to determine just what are the best ethical stocks and bonds to invest in among the banking and brokerage concerns.
Mortgage Losses Echo in Europe and on Wall Street, by Vikas Bajaj and Mark Landler, August 10, 2007, The New York Times, USA. Also: SEC combing Wall St books for subprime losses, by Joe Giannone and Lilla Zuill; Additional reporting by Tim McLaughlin, August 10, 2007, Reuters, USA.
Political Action Best Way To Encourage Ethical Consumption. – [COMMENTARY] A UK study says that those campaigns that try top effect changes towards ethical consumption are most effective on the collective level, as compared to trying to coax changes on the individual consumer. These findings are from a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) of the UK. The study also points out that consumers are generally aware of what they need to do in order to be more ethical consumers, but often lack the money, or the pathways to engage in such behaviour are not readily available.
Ethical consumption: Consumer driven or political phenomenon? August 8, 2007, press release, Economic and Research Council, UK.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Or Sustainable Investing? – [COMMENTARY] Many investors are bewildered by what these terms mean, and which one most fits their personal values. This is an interesting article discussing these definitions. Personally, I much prefer the term ethical investing. It best suits my values and what I am doing with this website. I do not believe imposing my values on other people. But I do feel acting honestly, truthfully and with integrity are very important values. To me ethical investing encompasses socially responsible investing, sustainable investing, and responsible investing, which in part seeks to screen for corporate governance practices.
From Socially Responsible Investing to Sustainable Investing, by Joe Keefe, August 6, 2007, Environment News Service, USA.
European Investment Industry Encompasses Socially Responsible Investing (Ethical Investing). – [COMMENTARY] Following on from the above article, this article – do not worry about detailed definitions of terms though – provides insight into just how mainstream ethical or socially responsible investing, is becoming.
Ethical boundaries help shape investment, August 6, 2007, The Financial Times, UK.
Unique Socially Responsible Stock Exchange Envisioned In UK. – [COMMENTARY] It seems the UK government together with other social investors is looking at the idea of a special stock exchange whose listings comprise exclusively companies with social missions set-up to benefit local communities. It certainly sounds interesting. Read this article and let me know what you think.
’Fair exchange’ plan for ethical firms, by Nathalie Thomas, August 5, 2007, Scotsman.com, UK.
Carbonised Green Plant Gets UK Ministers Blessing. – [COMMENTARY] All green investors, ethical investors and others will want to watch this development. It could be the first of many and dramatically influence energy production globally. “The decarbonised fuels project at Peterhead would be the first industrial scale project in the world to combine three separate technologies – hydrogen production, power generation and carbon capture and storage – to generate electricity using hydrogen from natural gas.” Read more about this in the link below.
Green light for decarbonised fuel plant, August 4, 2007, Green Guide Online, UK.
When Looking For A Job Most UK Workers Say Company’s Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) Policies More Important Than Salary. – [COMMENTARY) This survey by BT offers additional evidence as to why companies should strive for excellent CSR policies. Additionally, companies with such policies are already evidencing comparatively higher profits as seen in Corporate Social and Financial Performance: A Meta-Analysis. See UK survey at: Corporate social responsibility is more important than salary when choosing a job, by Gareth Vorster, August 2, 2007, PersonnelToday.com, UK.
Teamsters Union Cites Cummins Inc. For Union Bashing. – [COMMENTARY] Cummins Inc. is widely held among socially responsible investment funds. However, with these accusations it is possible that some funds may reconsider their position.
Teamsters, Investors Examine Labor Abuses at Cummins Inc., August 2, 2007, PRNewswire-USNewswire, USA.
British Airways Fined Â£270 million For Price Fixing. – [COMMENTARY] Mr. Branson’s Virgin Atlantic brought the problem to light by contacting the UK Office of Fair Trading. Though Virgin Atlantic needs to be congratulated in coming clean on this activity, it did also participate in it! The total also includes amounts fined by the US Department of Justice. When companies are perceived to be unethical, their sales can be negatively impacted, hence the importance of business ethics in the global society. Furthermore, if higher consciousness is not sought and gained in these organizations, ethical lapses are sure to occur again and again.
BA’s price fixing faces passenger backlash, by David Millward, August 2, 2007, Telegraph.co.uk, UK.
French Ethical Investments Rise 88% Last Year. – [COMMENTARY] “Socially responsible investment in France almost doubled among institutional investors last year. Ethical investments rose 88% from â‚¬5.4 billion in 2005 to â‚¬10.5 billion in 2006. Public pension funds are driving the increase, according to research from Novethic.”
Pressure To Reduce Meat Consumption Is On. – [COMMENTARY] The toll of meat production and its negative consequences for our environment is well described in this article. As a vegetarian for almost forty years, I have long wondered why it has taken so long for people to realize that consuming large amounts of red meat in particular, is not wise for our health, and certainly not for the planet. I believe we are at a juncture where the pressure to reduce meat consumption will become overwhelming in the face of its detrimental environmental consequences. Industries reliant on meat production and consumption may experience significant difficulties in the years ahead.
Ignoring the meat of the global warming issue, by Neil Reynolds, August 1, 2007 The Globe & Mail, Canada.