Quaker Capitalism

I was recently invited to offer observations on the evolving role of “values” and incentives in businesses, particularly from the perspective of a so-called “financial buyer.”  The convening was organized in London by the Center for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics and was titled “Quaker Capitalism.” I graduated from university a bit over 50 years ago, and after a brief tour in the armed forces, several years at a commercial bank…

Miles to go Before We Sleep

The UNPRI conference in Montreal last week demonstrated that while progress is being made, there is still a long way to go before sustainability will be fully embraced by mainstream investors. Among the key challenges identified during the conference were: Incentives— PRI’s Managing Director Fiona Reynolds said that only 6% of asset owners committed to the UNPRI report that their performance management and compensation systems for senior executives include metrics…

Can Sustainability Help Companies Outperform?

In recent years, the perception that companies that integrate sustainability in their corporate strategy and operations will do so at the cost of financial performance has finally been put to rest.  As a recent study by mainstream investment advisory firm RBC Asset Managers concludes, investors “can pursue a program of socially responsible investing with the expectation that investment returns will be similar to traditional investment options.” The real challenge in…

Is it Time for Guaranteed Annual Income?

As we move further into the 21st century, a technologically-driven transformation is starting to take hold that will challenge our current economic model for distributing income in society. The key driver for this transformation is the rapid growth of machine intelligence, which is now poised to radically reduce capital’s dependence on human labor. According to David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied the loss of…

Is Income Inequality Really the Problem?

Income inequality is a top policy issue for the Obama administration and a focus of global private and public sector leaders at national and international forums.  But what is driving income inequality, and what does it tell us about the future prospects for economic growth and social development? Most experts agree that the central determinant of income inequality is when the share of national income going to capital (interest, dividends,…