Category : Stock Market

An American u've probably never heard of–John Arnold's War on Bad Science

Fortune Magazine once dubbed [John] Arnold “one of the least-known billionaires in the US.” His profile in the public consciousness is almost nonexistent, and he rarely gives interviews. But among hedge funders and energy traders, Arnold is a legend. John D’Agostino, former head of strategy of the New York Mercantile Exchange, says that in Arnold’s heyday, people in the industry would discuss him in “hushed and reverent tones.” In 2006, Centaurus reportedly saw returns of over 300 percent; the next year Arnold became the youngest billionaire in the country. “If Arnold decided he wanted to beat hunger,” D’Agostino says, “I wouldn’t want to bet on hunger.”

For all the swagger of that description, Arnold himself has virtually none. He is universally described as quiet and introspective. At Enron, a company famous for its brash, testosterone-laced cowboy culture, the perennially boyish-looking trader was reportedly so soft-spoken that his colleagues had to gather in close to hear him at restaurants. “People would read into it, and they would say he’s just being cagey,” D’Agostino says. “And then, after a couple of years, people were like, oh, no, he’s actually like that.”

Read it all from Wired.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stock Market, Theology

13 International Asset Owners Desire to Embed Climate Concerns in Investment Decisions

Thirteen leading international asset owners and five asset managers with over £2 trillion under management launched the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) today to better understand how the transition to a low-carbon economy affects their investments. The TPI will assess how individual companies are positioning themselves for the transition to a low-carbon economy through a public, transparent online tool. The heads of funds involved launched the Initiative this morning at the opening of the stock market at the London Stock Exchange.

The Initiative has been led by the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies and the Environment Agency Pension Fund in partnership with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. Data has been provided by FTSE Russell.

Preliminary assessments released today include the oil and gas and electricity utilities sectors. As part of a phased rollout, management quality and carbon performance assessments of additional sectors and individual companies will follow in the coming months.

Read it all from the C of E.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

(Church Times) Spring push to end fossil-fuel reliance

Churches, parishes, and indi­viduals will be urged next spring to join a global disinvestment mobil­isa­tion to end the dependence on fossil fuels.

The campaign Bright Now will launch the event next May to increase pressure on big investors to move their money away from coal, oil, and gas producers into green-energy technologies.

The campaign, which is run by a Christian charity that campaigns on climate change, Operation Noah, is putting together a resource for churches on how they can disinvest from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

Andrew Lightbown–Renewal, Reform and the ”˜resource church’

So where can we start?

One of the success stories of recent times has been the resource church. Resource churches tend to be found in the cities and typically have been HTB style plants. As Ian Paul has pointed out in a recent thought piece resource churches have achieved rapid growth, through focusing predominately on a discrete group (the 18 to 30 age range). Their astonishing growth in numbers includes a significant number of returnees to church and new converts (around 34% of their congregations comprise these two groups). Resource churches tend to be well resourced in terms of staff numbers and, have demonstrated success in terms of planting, and resourcing, new congregations. They are in other words porous.

So far resource churches have tended to be characterized through a commitment to an evangelical and charismatic expression of faith. Resource churches of this sort are not for everyone but they have been successful; up to a point, or more precisely a geographic point. They have shown an ability to reach from the centre to the suburb, but perhaps no further. But, perhaps, we can learn from the existing model of resource church, amending and extending our understanding of the term? We could, and in my view should, consider extending it to include a wider range of ecclesiologies and geographic territories.

Maybe some real work needs to be done in identifying churches that are potentially and genuinely capable of serving rural England, less we stop at the suburbs? We must invest in potential for real growth, as every good investment manager knows. We must seek out and invest in churches which are currently undervalued and, through a prudent investment strategy seek to release value.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Economy, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

(BI) U.S. public pension plans are headed for a disaster on the current trajectory

The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.

This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders ”” a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.

While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan ”” which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 ”” represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Stock Market, Theology

(FT) Churches put their faith in green energy

In some cases, churches had banded together to use their collective buying power to secure green energy tariffs from companies that bought or produced at least 80 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources, said Tim Gee, campaigns leader at Christian Aid.

A number had saved money but in certain instances this was because the churches had not switched suppliers in a long time, he said.

“The very cheapest electricity supplier is still fossil fuels,” he said, but the churches had still been able to obtain the cheapest available renewable energy tariffs.

The overriding reason for acting, he added, was to send a message to governments and investors that there needed to be a shift away from fossil fuels if the world were to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market, Theology

Victor Davis Hanson–Washington’s Hollow Men

The nexus between Big Government, Big Money, Big Influence, and Big Media is sometimes empowered by familial journalistic continuity (e.g., John Dickerson, son of Nancy Dickerson) or a second generation of fashion/glitz and media (Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper), but again is increasingly expressed in the corridor “power couple,” the sorts who receive sycophantic adulation in New York and Washington monthly magazines. The Andrea Mitchell/Alan Greenspan power marriage was hailed as a threefer of media, government, and money. What was so strange, however, was just how often wrong were Mitchell in her amateurishly politicized rants and Greenspan in his cryptic Delphic prophecies ”” and always in areas of their supposedly greatest expertise.

Take also the Obama Cabinet. When we wonder how Susan Rice could go on television on five occasions in a single day to deceive about Benghazi; or John Kerry ”” in the middle of a war whose results Obama would come to call a “stable” and “self-reliant” democratic Iraq ”” could warn American youth that the punishment for poor school performance was “to get stuck in Iraq”; or Jay Carney (now senior vice president of global corporate affairs at Amazon) and Josh Earnest could both repeatedly mislead the country on Benghazi, the reason may be not just that they felt their influence, status, and privilege meant they were rarely responsible for the real-world consequences of their own rhetoric, but that they had forgotten entirely the nature of middle-class America, or never really knew it at all.
I get the impression that members of the D.C. elite do not wait in line with a sick kid in the emergency room on a Saturday night, when the blood flows and the supporters of rival gangs have to be separated in the waiting room; or that they find dirty diapers, car seats, and dead dogs tossed on their lawns, or wait two hours at the DMV, or are told that their journalistic assignment was outsourced to India, or read public-school teachers’ comments on their kids’ papers that were ungrammatical and misspelled to the point of being incomprehensible. The elite seems to be ignorant that, about 1975, Bedford Falls flyover country started to become Pottersville.

In forming perceptions about Benghazi, the Iran deal, globalization, or illegal immigration, it is sometimes hard to know who is making policy and who is reporting and analyzing such formulations ”” or whether they are one and the same. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is married to former ABC television producer Ian Cameron. Ben Rhodes, who drew up the talking-points deceptions about Benghazi and seemed to boast of deceiving the public about the Iran deal, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. Will 60 Minutes do one of its signature hit pieces on Ben Rhodes?

Secretary of State John Kerry ”” who famously docks his yacht in Rhode Island in order to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes on it ”” is married to Teresa Heinz, the billionaire widow of the late senator and catsup heir John Heinz. Former Obama press secretary Jay Carney married Claire Shipman, senior national correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America; his successor, Josh Earnest, married Natalie Wyeth, a veteran of the Treasury Department. Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s “body woman,” is married to creepy sexter Anthony Weiner; perhaps she was mesmerized by his stellar political career, his feminist credentials, and his tolerant approach to deviancy? And on and on it goes.

These Christiane Amanpour/Jamie Rosen or Samantha Power/Cass Sunstein types of connections could be explored to the nth degree, especially their moth-to-the-flame progressive fixations with maximizing privilege, power, and class. But my purpose is not to suggest some conspiratorial cabal of D.C. and New York insiders, only to note that an increasing number of government and media elites are so entangled with each other, leveraging lucrative careers in politics, finance, and the media, and doubling their influence through marriage, that they have scant knowledge of and less concern for the clingers who live well beyond their coastal-corridor moats. And so when reality proves their preconceptions wrong ”” from Benghazi to Brexit ”” they have only outrage and disdain to fall back on.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, Stock Market, The U.S. Government, Theology

(FT) Brexit: the world’s most complex divorce begins

The goal is to unwind Britain’s 43-year membership of the bloc, disentangle and sever the legacy of shared sovereignty, and then reshape the biggest single market on earth.
Three fundamental issues arise.
On substance, what political and commercial arrangements will Brexit Britain demand and will the EU accept them?
In execution, will the exit deal ”” the divorce and breaking of old obligations ”” be struck at the same time as a trade agreement covering post-Brexit trade? And if no, is a transition possible to ensure a soft landing?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, History, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Scotland, Stock Market, Theology, Wales

This looks interesting–The Economist guide on Brexit

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Stock Market, Theology

(FT) Brexit fears trigger market rush for safety

The prospect of Britons voting to leave the EU next week fuelled global market upheaval on Tuesday, with investors rushing for safety and sending the UK currency and stocks to their lowest levels in months.
The accelerating shift, which came after a trio of opinion polls showed Leave leading by significant margins, was most marked in government bonds, where a series of records were smashed as cash flowed into the relative security of sovereign debt.

German 10-year Bunds traded with interest rates below zero for the first time after Japan’s benchmark fell to a new low of minus 0.185 per cent. The UK’s 10-year gilt yield recorded a new low, and the 30-year bond dropped below 2 per cent for the first time.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Stock Market, Theology

Doug Carswell on Brexit–Remain is Losing because they are fearmongering and Leave is optimistic

What is going on? There is an honorable, decent case for Britain to stay in the union. The problem for the Remain camp is that no one has been making it.

Throughout the campaign, the Remainers have highlighted “experts” from bodies like the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Bank of England, which all think that Britain should stay. They talk of being “shut out” of the room where decisions are made in Brussels.
These warnings sound like the neuroses of career politicians, not the concerns of the public, who see things very differently. Ordinary voters are weighing what is best for National Health Service hospitals and public services. By making the case from a political elite’s perspective, the Remain campaign has alienated, even antagonized, voters.

Instead of advancing arguments, Remainers have resorted to a campaign of exaggeration and intimidation. Vote to leave, they suggest, and food prices will rise. Farming will fold, science will suffer, financiers will flee. Trade will tumble, there will be a global recession. And World War III, apparently.

Far from persuading people, these confected claims come across as hectoring and supercilious.

Read it all from todays NYT op-ed page.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Psychology, Stock Market, Theology

(Bloomberg) Most Federal Reserve Officials Saw June Hike Likely If Economy Warrants

Federal Reserve policy makers indicated that a June interest-rate increase was likely if the economy continued to improve, boosting market expectations they will act next month.

“Most participants judged that if incoming data were consistent with economic growth picking up in the second quarter, labor market conditions continuing to strengthen and inflation making progress toward the committee’s 2 percent objective, then it likely would be appropriate for the committee to increase the target range for the federal funds rate in June,” according to minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s April 26-27 meeting released Wednesday in Washington.

Officials were divided over whether those conditions were likely to be met in time. “Participants expressed a range of views about the likelihood that incoming information would make it appropriate to adjust the stance of policy at the time of the next meeting,” the minutes stated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Federal Reserve, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The U.S. Government

(C Of E) Church Commissioners announce total 2015 return on investments at 8.2%

The Church Commissioners for England have announced their latest financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on their investments in 2015 was 8.2 per cent, exceeding their long-term target rate by 2%. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.7% per annum. After taking account of expenditure, the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £7.0 billion at the end of 2015.

In 2015, the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was £218.5 million, accounting for 15% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Commissioners-funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Stock Market, Theology

C of E Church Commissioners receive investment awards and triple-A rating on climate change

The Church Commissioners for England have taken home two prizes at this year’s Portfolio Institutional Awards – the Best Charity / Fund / Trust Award for the first time since 2013, and the Best Implementation of Responsible Investment Award for the second year in a row.

The awards come as the Church Commissioners have also been given the highest AAA rating in this year’s Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) Global Climate 500, coming 10th in the index. The rating recognises the work done by the Commissioners to mitigate the investment risks of climate change through engagement and shareholder resolutions, as well as the Commissioners’ support for low carbon investment.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

(C of E Comm Blog) Edward Mason–Preparing for a low-carbon future

We’ve been at the heart of the ”˜Aiming for A’ engagement initiative, which successfully filed shareholder resolutions at the BP and Shell AGMs last year. These companies were keen to work with us and our partners, and recommended that shareholders approve the resolutions. The companies are now legally required to step up their reporting of their strategic response to the challenges ”“ and opportunities ”“ posed to their businesses by climate change. This was an excellent example of what investors and companies can achieve when they work together. On the back of similar engagement, Aiming for A has filed more resolutions in the UK mining sector for this year’s AGMs which have been received by the companies in the same spirit.

Sadly, not all companies are responding constructively to the urgent need to mitigate climate change. We’ve been working with the New York State pension fund in the US to file a resolution at ExxonMobil in the United States. Rather than working with us to provide the reporting that institutional investors require, Exxon have gone to the US regulator ”“ the Securities and Exchange Commission ”“ to try to get the resolution struck off so that shareholders do not get the opportunity vote on it at Exxon’s AGM later this year. This week New York State have written to the SEC to ask them to deny this request, and to make sure that shareholders can indicate to Exxon’s board their desire for fuller reporting on the implications of climate change policy.

We are extremely disappointed that even after the Paris climate change agreement ExxonMobil has contested the relevance of the resolution we have co-filed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology