Category : Corporations/Corporate Life

(Bloomberg) The Church of England Takes on Climate Change—and Generates a 17 Percent Return

Over the Exxon board’s objections, almost two-thirds of shareholders voted for a proposal asking the company to provide a detailed report on how curbing climate change could affect its business. Leading the charge was the giant New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages $192 billion and is a veteran activist. Its partner was a far smaller and lower-profile newcomer taking one of its first public stands in the U.S.: the Church of England.

Through a £7.9 billion ($10 billion) fund that finances the church’s mission activities, cathedral costs, and clergy pensions, the church has been quietly—and successfully—engaging with European companies in the energy and mining industries for the past few years. BP, BHP Billiton, and Royal Dutch Shell have all voluntarily adopted similar climate change steps to those sought at Exxon.

“We see ourselves as active, rather than activist,” says ­Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at Church Commissioners for England, as the fund is formally known. The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the state church of England. Christianity came to the country during Roman times, but the church split from Rome in the 16th century under King Henry VIII. Like many socially responsible investors, the church today prefers to engage collaboratively with companies rather than resort to a public brawl.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

Irwin Stelzer–The Opioid Crisis Is Creating a Labor Crisis

If you wonder what is supposed to happen when the demand for labor outruns the available supply, take a look at the picture below. It’s a Starbucks plea for baristas-the usually young people who make your latte, americano, or coconut milk mocha macchiato every morning. True, this particular branch is located in small-town Colorado, a state in which the unemployment rate is around 2 percent, far below the approximately 6 percent considered “full employment” when I was teaching this stuff. Still, even after recent increases in hourly wage rates, and introduction of an attractive benefits package that includes free college tuition and health care, and free access to Spotify, which I am told is some sort of music app, Starbucks is having trouble filling its ranks.

The Seattle-based chain is not the only employer struggling to find staff. The problem is widespread. One construction executive told me he cannot find roofers, those who left the trade during the Great Recession having found easier and steadier work driving UPS and FedEx vans. A property developer with a $1 billion annual budget has the land on which to build to houses, but can’t find workers, skilled and unskilled, to build them. Amazon, which needs 50,000 workers to fill new positions, 40,000 of them full-time, many with starting salaries of about $13 an hour, will be holding a job fair next week and expects to face difficulties finding suitable candidates. Employers uniformly tell me that higher wages would not attract the workers they need. Before responding, “They would say that, wouldn’t they?” consider opioids.

As Fed chair Janet Yellen told a Senate committee recently, the opioid epidemic is contributing to the labor shortage. Opioids are just the thing to kill the pain of a tooth extraction. For two or three days. And a blessing for the terminally ill. But they are a bane for those who abuse them, and a factor to be considered when analyzing the labor market. Yellen testified, “We’ve had many decades of declining labor force participation by prime-age men. … We’ve seen now unfortunately that it is likely tied to the opioid crisis. … I don’t know if it’s causal, or it’s a symptom of long-running economic maladies that have affected these communities.” One iteration of the now-failed Senate health care bill included $45 billion to combat opioid abuse.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Irwin Stelzer–Time to Break Up Amazon? Americans have a schizophrenic attitude toward successful big businesses

“The trusts are hijous monsters. On the one hand they must be crushed underfoot; on the other hand not so fast.” So spake Mr. Dooley, the fictitious Irish bartender and font of wisdom created by Finley Peter Dunne in the late 19th century. Trusts were the form monopolies took at the time. Dooley captured Americans’ schizophrenic attitude toward successful big businesses. We make them big and successful by buying their products-J.D. Rockefeller’s petrol, Andrew Carnegie’s steel, J.P. Morgan’s loans, Ma Bell’s telephone network, American Tobacco’s cigarettes-then worry that they have too much power and call in the trust busters.

In fact, schizophrenia is something of a misdiagnosis. Bigness alone has never been considered by the courts to be an evil. In the language of the Supreme Court, monopoly power that is the result of “a superior product, business acumen, or historic accident” in unobjectionable. So why, then, are some hedge funds shorting the stock of Amazon in anticipation of a government move to break up Jeff Bezos’ creation or somehow restrain its growth? And why do we see articles in the New York Times headlined ” Amazon’s Growing Monopoly Bite” and ” Is it Time to Break Up Google?” And why is the Wall Street Journal warning that “Tech Companies Spread Their Tentacles” thus “concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a few companies in a way not seen since the Gilded Age.” Not to be outdone by the Economist, which leads with “A giant problem” and goes on to what for it is a near-hysterical statement, “The rise of the corporate colossus threatens both competition and the legitimacy of business … using the dark arts of management to stay ahead.”

Let’s start with some facts, using Amazon as the poster boy for a possible new documentary, The Company That Ate the U.S. Economy. Statistics about the company are hard to come by, so we must rely on probably the best guesses available, those of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). Amazon Prime, the offering that provides “free” shipping, exclusive access to movies, television shows, photo storage and a host of other goodies, costs $99 per year, counts as members some 80 million U.S. households, about two out of every three in the country, up from 58 million only one year ago. That certainly is a lot of customers.,,,

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues

(FT) Netflix looks to become world’s entertainer as it hits milestone, passing 100m subscribers

2007 was a vintage year for technology. While there has been plenty of coverage of the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, the same year also saw Netflix, best known then for renting DVDs by post, launch another novel product: online movie streaming. At the time, some Netflix investors fretted about the expected $40m cost of launching its streaming service during its first year.

A decade later, Netflix’s share price performance has far exceeded even Apple’s 700 per cent increase since 2007, with the internet TV group’s stock skyrocketing by more than 6,000 per cent in the same period. This week added another 15 per cent to those gains, after second-quarter results showed its total subscribers had reached 104m, shooting through Wall Street forecasts.

Netflix described the symbolic milestone of exceeding 100m members as “a good start”. 

“We connect people with stories,” its recently redrawn mission statement says. “Someday, we hope to entertain everyone.”

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Entertainment, Movies & Television

(FT) Investors, including the C of E, shine spotlight on coal groups over climate change risk

The world’s largest coal mining companies need to show how they will reduce their carbon emissions to meet global climate targets under the Paris accord, according to an investor-backed group led by the Church of England.

Only two of the 20 largest listed coal companies — Rio Tinto and Brazil’s Vale — have long-term targets for reducing their emissions, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Transition Pathway Initiative, a coalition of investment funds with £4tn under management.

Three coal companies, DMCI Holdings, Inner Mongolia Yitai Coal, and Shougang Fushan Resources Group, do not even acknowledge climate change, the study said. The report comes after the Paris climate change agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels came into effect last November.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(FT) Church of England fund becomes top world performer w yoy return on assets of 17.1%

The Church of England’s £7.9bn investment fund, which has in the past struggled to reconcile questions of morality and mammon, achieved its strongest returns in more than three decades last year, lifting it into the top ranks of the world’s best-performing endowment funds.

The Church Commissioners annual report discloses total return on assets of 17.1 per cent in 2016, with strong performances from global equities, private equity and timber.

Over 10 and 20 years, the fund returned 8.3 per cent and 9.5 per cent per annum respectively, compared with its target return of 5 per cent per annum above inflation. By contrast, returns from the Yale University endowment, top of the eight-member Ivy League, rose 3.4 per cent in the year to last June, with 10 and 20-year returns at 8.1 per cent and 12.6 per cent per annum respectively.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(Church Times) C of E urged to pull out of fossil fuels

CHRISTIAN AID has challenged the Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuels, after it emerged that the Archbishop of Canterbury was involved in persuading a major investment fund to pull its own money out fossil fuels.

BMO Global Asset Management’s range of “responsible” funds will no longer invest in any company which has reserves of fossil fuels, it an­­nounced on Monday. Archbishop Welby is the president of the firm’s ethical advisory council, and report­edly played a key part in pushing through the change in policy, which will be implemented by 2020.

Christian Aid is now ques­tioning why the Archbishop cannot play the same part closer to home and pull the C of E’s own investments out of fossil-fuel reserves.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(Economist 1843) The Law of Unintended consequences Dept–Social media is enabling a golden age of scamming

On the face of it these seem like tough times for financial scammers. The crash of 2008 burned investors, exposed fraudsters and has forced regulators to toughen up. Yet dodgy “pyramid” investment schemes that promise huge returns before inevitably collapsing are going strong, especially those targeting women. In late 2015 British regulators jailed the leaders of a plot that had duped over 10,000 women. In June 2016 authorities in Belize warned of a scam sweeping the country. America, India, Mexico and Indonesia have seen similar stories.

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(FT) Hackers prime second classified US cyber weapon

Criminal hacking groups have repurposed a second classified cyber weapon stolen from US spies and have made it available on the so-called dark web after the success of the WannaCry attack that swept across the globe on Friday.

The hacking tool, developed by the US National Security Agency and codenamed EsteemAudit, has been adapted and is now available for criminal use, according to security analysts.

As with the NSA’s EternalBlue, the tool on which WannaCry was based, EsteemAudit exploits a vulnerability in older versions of Microsoft’s Windows software in the way in which networked machines communicate with each other.

Microsoft issued patches for vulnerable versions of its Windows software over the weekend — though experts warn many organisations have yet to apply them.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(NYT) How Google Took Over the Classroom: Are Schools giving the company more than they are getting?

Schools may be giving Google more than they are getting: generations of future customers.

Google makes $30 per device by selling management services for the millions of Chromebooks that ship to schools. But by habituating students to its offerings at a young age, Google obtains something much more valuable.

Every year, several million American students graduate from high school. And not only does Google make it easy for those who have school Google accounts to upload their trove of school Gmail, Docs and other files to regular Google consumer accounts — but schools encourage them to do so. This month, for instance, Chatfield Senior High School in Littleton, Colo., sent out a notice urging seniors to “make sure” they convert their school account “to a personal Gmail account.”

That doesn’t sit well with some parents. They warn that Google could profit by using personal details from their children’s school email to build more powerful marketing profiles of them as young adults.

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Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Education, Science & Technology

(60 Minutes) A profile of Chobani Yogurt Founder Hamdi Ulukaya–Creating Jobs in America

Sensing an opportunity Hamdi set off to the small village of New Berlin, New York, to have a look. There he found the last employees of the last plant in the area closing it down.

Hamdi Ulukaya: I remember like yesterday. It’s like this sadness in this whole place. Like as if somebody died, like, somebody important died.

Steve Kroft: Two hundred jobs?

Hamdi Ulukaya: Two hundred jobs was gone.

Former employees Frank Price, Maria Wilcox and Rich Lake were among the mourners that day.

Rich Lake: Your whole livelihood’s gone. You don’t really know what you’re gonna do or where you’re gonna go….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Immigration, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Turkey

Easter egg row: Church of England accuses National Trust of ‘airbrushing’ religion out of children’s egg hunt

It was also met with anger by the Archbishop of York, who said the decision to remove the word Easter from the egg hunt logo was tantamount to “spitting on the grave” of John Cadbury, the chocolate firm’s original founder.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “The Cadburys were Great Quaker industrialists. If people visited Birmingham today in the Cadbury World they will discover how Cadbury’s Christian faith influenced his industrial output.

“He built houses for all his workers, he built a Church, he made provision for schools. It is obvious that for him Jesus and justice were two sides of the one coin. To drop Easter from Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt in my book is tantamount to spitting on the grave of Cadbury.”

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Easter, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Globe+Mail) Michael Devillaer: Pot legalization: Canada doesn’t need another profit-seeking drug industry

First, the research is clear that the great majority of current drug-related harm and economic costs arise not from the misuse of illegal drugs but from legal, regulated drugs: tobacco and alcohol. The extent of harm and costs is enormous, and continues year after year.

The epidemic of opioid deaths that has been sweeping across North America had its genesis in the conduct of the legal pharmaceutical drug industry.

Second, we have a history of pan-industry failure to balance revenue interests with the protection of public health. Industries protect their revenue by disregarding existing regulations and opposing the introduction of new evidence-based reforms. They also have a history of breaking the law to maximize revenues.

Third, government has been reluctant to adopt evidence-based regulatory reforms, and the effectiveness of existing regulations is often compromised by permissive enforcement. Rarely-assessed penalties are typically insufficient to discourage recidivism. In sum, drug industry regulation is not simply less than perfect, it is seriously less than adequate, and contributes to the perennial high levels of harm from drug products.

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Posted in Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Companies doing Good(II): Google equips buses with wifi and offers computers to South Carolina students who have a long ride daily

Eighth-grader Lakaysha Governor spends two hours on the bus getting back and forth to school each day. Thanks to a grant from Google, she can now use that time more productively and get her homework done.

The aspiring forensic anthropologist is one of nearly 2,000 students in rural Berkeley County who will ride to school on one of 28, Google-funded, Wi-Fi-equipped school buses unveiled Monday.

The technology giant also has given the school district 1,700 Chromebooks, the stripped-down laptops on which many schoolchildren now do their class and homework.

As more class assignments and homework migrate online, such long bus rides have generally counted as lost time in preparing for the next school day. But Google said it hopes to help expand the use of Wi-Fi on school buses in other rural areas elsewhere around the country.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Education, Science & Technology

Companies doing Good(I): Chevron Helps Father Preserve His Son’s Memory

When Chevron needed to fix up a property, it sought out the anonymous caretaker of a memorial that lie along the property’s fence, and helped that man make it a more permanent fixture.

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Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family