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Archive for the ‘Investing’ Category

The Boston Globe has had a couple of interesting bits about stock markets recently, including this slideshow of “The Dow’s 15 Biggest Point Losses” and this editorial on indexes and markets you may not already know about “What’s More Alarming Than Tracking the Dow?  Seeing What the Insiders See”.

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As we’re all well aware, there’s some pretty discouraging news about the economy out there.  Americans are worried about the state of our economy, as well as the global economy, as evidenced by this recent poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  There are bits of good news scattered throughout, however, such as this report by the US Department of Commerce that more tourists are coming to the US and spending in record amounts.  Mixed among all the good and the bad, however, is the weird, such as the National Retail Federation’s claim that Halloween spending is on a rise due to US consumers trying to escape the realities of our economic crisis.  I guess this means that if you’re selling Halloween items to tourists, then your business is going like gangbusters.

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Another Great NYT graph

I’m a visual person, so I loved this representative graph of the current year’s heavy losses on Wall Street, via the New York Times.

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“How Firms Respond to Being Rated”, an HBS working paper, investigates whether companies respond when being ranked according to their corporate environmental policies and actions. In their preliminary findings, companies responded to a low ranking by improving their performance. From the abstract:

While many independent rating systems are designed primarily to help buyers overcome information asymmetries when making purchasing decisions, we investigate whether these same ratings might also influence the companies being rated. We focus on corporate environmental ratings, the primary purpose of which is to help investors select “socially responsible,” and avoid “socially irresponsible,” companies. We hypothesize that company ratings are particularly likely to spur responses by firms that receive poor ratings, especially those that face lower cost opportunities to improve and that operate in highly regulated industries. Our empirical analysis examines how nearly 600 firms in the United States respond to corporate environmental ratings issued by a prominent independent social rating agency, and avoids selection issues by taking advantage of a natural experiment that arose when the agency expanded the scope of its ratings. We find empirical support for our hypotheses, and present implications for managers of rated companies and of private and public rating agencies. While negative ratings may “shame” firms that are performing poorly, the threat of regulatory action and the presence of “low hanging fruit” are important drivers of how firms respond to information-based incentives.

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Business for Social Responsibility, a consulting and research non-profit focusing on helping foster corporate social responsibility, released a report on the financial market’s mainstream opinion of socially responsible investing.  The title of the report is “Environmental, Social and Governance: Moving to Mainstream Investing?” and you can download the full report here.  The current situation for socially responsible investing, as reviewed by the report, doesn’t look good: financial houses don’t have a common language or set of standards for social investment; the individual investors are cynical; and there’s no long-term evidence of social investment’s returns.  The report does address how these issues can be corrected, however, and is well worth a read.

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Much has been made in recent years of the Dabbawalas, the Indian lunch deliverymen who have a nearly impeccable record of delivering over 170,000 lunches in Mumbai daily. While traveling in Canada this past week, I had my first brush with dabbawalas as a documentary was airing on television, and then the next day I caught this item in the Economist. For those of you who haven’t heard of the system, here’s a slideshow from the New York Times below is a video I found on YouTube that provides an introduction.

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Come to the library and check out The Wall Street Journal’s special Small Business Report. Read about small businesses struggles with rising energy prices, the downfall of Cold Stone Creamery, and other articles helpful to the small business entrepreneur. You can also read it online at the Wall Street Journal’s Small Business section of their website.

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