Capitalism & Social Good: The World’s Greatest Super Team


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Charities and Foundations do good, across the globe. Schools, hospitals, museums, environmental groups, senior homes, and animal rights… not-for-profits get the job done! Not-for-profits have a special place in society because they do so much for society. But not-for-profits are struggling. Big changes in the economy could close many not-for-profits, shredding America’s social fabric. Can not-for-profits be saved? Will the good guys win in the end? Let’s dive right in and see!

For the last thousand years, Charity meant the Church. But 200 years ago, the Enlightenment arose. The age of Kings ended and the age of the citizen dawned. Citizen groups… fraternal orders, unions, public charities… offered alternatives to Church charity. The American Revolution rebelled against the King and separated Church from State, giving birth to a hundred constitutions around the world. It was also the age of Capitalists. Replacing Kingly decrees with Capitalist fundraising. And “good works”.

Early Capitalists were strange creatures. By day, Robber Barrons mercilessly crushing competitors, destroying unions, and manipulating financial markets. By night, donned the robes of Philanthropists… aiding the poor and forging a better world. J.P. Morgan, John Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, the list goes on and on. It was their support that created the world’s great museums, libraries, hospitals, and schools.

Some truly wanted to do good. Others did good because their fortunes REQUIRED a better world. Andrew Carnegie built over 2,500 libraries across America. Not because it was a nice thing to do, but because Carnegie’s factories (the world’s most technologically advanced) needed literate workers! In fact, he needed more literate workers than the market could provide. So, he took steps to change the world on his own.

Henry Ford famously paid workers twice the standard wages of the time. Good guy move? Sort of. Henry Ford paid more but wanted more. Ford wanted to best workers AND he wanted workers that could afford to buy his products. Capitalism didn’t accidentally uplift humanity, it was a conscious and intentional outcome of capitalism since it’s earliest days.

Then there’s Milton Hershey, the Chocolate King. He didn’t just build an orphanage, but hired those orphans as managers, eventually gifting the orphanage with his candy empire. Why? Because Hershey believed in the Protestant Work Ethic. That work ethic says a lot more than, “Everyone should work hard.” This philosophy included support of the community, being charitable, and never becoming TOO rich. Up until the 1800s, protestant communities regularly had Jubilee years, when personal debts were forgiven.

Capitalism and Charity worked hand in hand. Some philanthropists funded charities directly, while others funded Foundations, ensuring that good ideas would survive long after an individual philanthropist passed away. While building bronze statues to immortalize yourself was popular at the time, funding social good was seen as a better way of achieving immortality by some of the world’s greatest Capitalists.

Capitalists regularly placed the good of the world before their own interests. Pharmaceutical companies cured the great killers, diseases that regularly claimed millions of lives. Often with minimal profits. A diagnosis of diabetes was a death sentence. Desperate victims would pay any price for insulin. Yet the patent for insulin production was sold in 1920 for just $1. Insulin creator Fredrick Banting said, “Insulin belongs to the world, not to me.”

Nor was banting was not the only scientists to give away his life’s work for the good of the world. The Polio vaccine was also given away for the same reasons. Altruism was not just an oddity in the medical world. John Walker, the inventor of the humble friction match, gave away his patent. John Walker went on to make a fortune selling his own brand of matches. But, it was his concern about protecting the people of the world from fires caused by earlier and more dangerous types of fire starters that caused him to give away his patent. Golden Age Capitalists regularly weighed personal vs. public good and often chose to put the good of the public first.

Compare entrepreneurs from a century ago to the ever-smirking Martin Shkreli.  He manipulated the price of insulin to boost profits, killing patients who could no longer afford insulin. Or, the sociopathic Elizabeth Holmes and her decade long, $7 billion medical scam, selling medical diagnostic equipment that never existed. Just a bunch of bad capitalists? Or did Capitalism itself become tainted, ignoring its own origins, and becoming something less than true Capitalism?

Capitalism and social good always worked together, but the relationship continues to evolve. Just like biological evolution, sometimes you end up with a dead-end. Like the Saber Tooth Tiger. At first, it makes perfect sense. Bigger tiger, bigger teeth. You get a superior predator. Up to a point.

Beyond that point, the biggest and most powerful may no longer be the most efficient. As Capitalism evolved along strange and unexpected paths, the assumption that Capitalism cannot help but do good, and the relationship between Capitalism and Social Good, may no longer ring true.

How did this happen? Through a thousand small changes. Globalization unanchored corporations from communities, and community resources… people, workers, the environment. Private corporations became public, driven by the short-term profit demands of stock analysts rather than the vision of a company owner.

Charities still work with philanthropists, but a new generation of billionaires is less interested in old Foundations and Charities. Instead, they want to change the world through their own efforts. With software that makes hailing taxis slightly easier. Or an app to vacation in someone’s apartment. Or maybe a better dating site. The social good expectations of new Capitalists have fallen very far indeed.

But there are exceptions. The 21st century gave birth to Impact Investment and… perhaps… Capitalism 2.0. Impact Investing (green investing, social good investing or good guy investing) isn’t just soft-hearted or misguided investing. It is a return to the Golden age of Capitalism, with a twist. In the last Century, social good was implied in Capitalism. In our less innocent age, Impact Investors come right out and tell you that they are so interested in social good. And that they will pay for it.

That payment might be a lower rate of interest or making an investment in an unusually risky project or even supporting a project that no one else understands… IF a project can materially improve the world. As Impact Investing becomes increasingly popular and research departments have more case studies to examine, it looks like Impact Investing is a profitable way to invest.

Good guy investments are good partially because… well… bad guy investments are bad! It seems too obvious to state, but when you consider the history of bad investments on Wall Street, maybe we do need to be reminded!

Bad investment ideas and bad investment partners often show up with very bad ideas, that have very tempting (and very unrealistic) returns. These investments often end badly. Ask tobacco investors. Firms that hide or distort information are bad for investors. Big oil and coal held back knowledge of Global Climate Change, and those firms may soon see a huge hit to their valuations. Sometimes you just have straight-out frauds, Bernie Madoff. For a long time, people thought that he was a legitimate stock trader, who just happened to deliver mathematically impossible returns.

B (Benefit) corporations are a recent innovation and a new type of corporation. They must explicitly state their “benefit” (reduced pollution, developing low-cost housing, education for the poor) as part of the certification process that gives them”B” status. Your goals are then enshrined in corporate filings, and your benefit (not your shareholders) will receive the first distribution of profits. Yet, the B Corp can be very attractive to Investors.

Companies like Danone. At $24 billion in sales annually, they are one of the largest food companies in the world. Or Natura, a Brazilian based cosmetics firm that acquired Avon in 2019, making them the world’s 4th largest cosmetics firm. Both firms have transitioned to B status, and many other major corporations are starting the process.

If your firm ever plans on attracting employees or investment dollars from Millenials or Gen Z, attaining B Corp certification should be a top priority. These generations are cynical and want a lot more social good than their predecessors. B Corp status will be as important in attracting human capital (in both definitions “capital”) as “Certified Organic” has become in attracting in consumer purchasing power.

But what about Charities and Foundations? If Charities do the heavy lifting in social good, they are n the businesses that Impact Investors should invest in! But there is a problem. Even “good guy” investors are primarily built to work with for-profit corporations. Impact Investors could lend money at zero or nearly zero interest, but they need to get back their capital so that it can circulate through other investments.  Government contracts are often very specific, and many exclude for-profits.

Banks can loan money to both for-profits and non-profits, but many lenders are less comfortable working with non-profits. Whether it is an Impact Investor, a Bank or a private lender, non-profits all lack a fundamental tool for raising capital… the ability to sell equity.

Interestingly, I’ve been working with a not-for-profit called Nicky’s Gardens of Hope, an organization created to build long-term residences for disabled adults. We ran into this very same issue. We could have incorporated as a not-for-profit or a for-profit. But each option created different limitations. Even a B Corp, was not able to address all of our issues.

So we created something new, BRRM (the Balanced Risk Revenue Model). This starts with a for-profit B Corporation and then combines it with a not-for-profit. The two operate in a unique, but highly efficient way. This resulting structure provides the benefits of both types of organizations while making it easier for Impact Investors to invest in it. By reducing these barriers to investment, Impact Investors can fund Charities as easily as for-profit corporations.

B Corps and BRRM are just the newest tools for Impact Investors to realign Capitalism with its originals goals. Impact Investors, B Corps, and BRRM could be the team-up that Capitalism has been waiting for… at least, that’s my Niccolls’ worth!

Want to be a superhero? Write a comment, tell us about your work with Impact Investors or look me up on LinkedIn!

https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisniccolls/

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America’s Revolution Rolls On… Capitalism & Democracy Are Still Evolving and Improving the World!


During the recent G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, President Donald Trump was asked what he thought about Vladimir Putin’s statement that “Western Liberalism” is becoming obsolete. Unfortunately, Trump didn’t know the difference between Classical Western Liberalism (the philosophy that created capitalism) and San Francisco liberals. 200 years later, Liberalism is still going strong, but cracks are showing in the foundation, and Capitalism and Democracy are being challenged. What do those challenges mean to a 21st Century citizen? Let’s dive in and see!

Before Liberal philosophy, we had Monarchies and rule by Kings. Monarchs controlled most (or all) of the nation’s political and economic power. Below the rulers were aristocrats, then military leaders, and other classes until we hit the “lower class”, peasants, serfs, slaves, etc. The class you were born into was the class you died in. Birth (and your subsequent class) determined your job, where you lived, if you went to school, who you would marry, and every other aspect of your life.

Liberalism said power comes from the people, not Kings. Citizens choose their leaders (Democracy) and choose where they put their money and labor (Capitalism). With Democracy and Capitalism as the new center of society, class systems began to fade away. Individuals would choose their own fate. In a “classless” society, education became universal instead of the privilege of just a few. Managers and Officers were no longer appointed based on birth, personal ability and ambition mattered!

Suddenly, individuals from the most humble background could rise up in society. Human capital became more valuable than land or Royal privilege. This didn’t happen all at once. It started with a series of writings that challenged the old order, which led to political movements, and eventually revolutions. Writings and politics started in Europe, but the first big revolution was here in America. America WAS the revolution!

Separated by an Ocean, English citizens (soon to be Americans) didn’t need a King. A decade later, France agreed and had its own revolution. How important was the American revolution? Over 50 nations have flags with three different color stripes, or a “Tri-Color”. France adopted the Tri-Color flag as a tribute to America’s “Red, White” & Blue” flag. For two centuries, America was literally the very model of Liberal philosophy.

The Age of Kings passed just a short time ago. We started World War I with a King in England, a Kaiser in Germany, the Tzar in Russia, an Emperor in Japan and scores of lesser monarchs. Just three decades later, after WW II, the Age of Monarchs was ending. Kings were retired to make room for the rights of the individual. Without Monarchs the world’s wealth exploded, life expectancy nearly doubled, and contagious diseases were eradicated. We even traveled to other planets! Strong evidence that humanity no longer needs Kings. Yet… there are those cracks in society.

Throughout the 20th century, Capitalism was an undeniable source of social good. Capitalism provided resources and economic drive to develop vaccines, to provide clean drinking water, build schools, and raise our standard of living enough to enjoy longer lives. But by the 21st century, Capitalism had changed.

Capitalism created outsourcing and automation, eliminating many higher paying “trades”. New technology is replacing high-paying jobs, like financial analysts and research professionals. Self-driving vehicles will take away well-paid jobs that do not require a college degree, while Artificial Intelligence will drain away employment from lawyers, doctors and MBA’s and other individuals with higher degrees.

The to Pew Research Center, one of America’s most prestigious sources of independent research, reports that U.S. compensation has been stuck since the mid-1960s. Capitalism once guaranteed growing prosperity. Now it is a zero-sum game, and it may soon only guarantee a jobless future.

More than the economy is at stake. We watched big corporations intentionally ignore the latest scientific evidence on global warming. Then we learned that scientists working for big oil companies made these same discoveries decades ago, and those corporations chose to keep the information secret, so as not to affect their stock valuations.

But big oil was not alone. Big pharma once sought to cure the ills of the world and is now responsible for 50,000 Americans a year dying from intentional over prescriptions of Opioids. Wall Street firms that once fueled the economic engines of the world placed profit in front of national or global good and collapsed the world economy. The #MeToo movement exposed how widely corporate America permits or even encourages sexual assault and rape, rather than confront powerful stakeholders and managers. For young Americans growing up today, they are in the age of Corrupt Capitalism.

A new generation of Capitalists imagines an improved Capitalism that makes the world better. Impact Investors have identified the problem. Corrupt Capitalism always tries to keep positive consequences (such as profits), while transferring negative consequences (pollution, social inequality, depletion of public resources) to the public, without any compensation. It’s cheaper to dump toxins in a river and let the people downstream deal with it than to reduce your pollution. Especially if you are never fined for damaging the world around you.

Formerly the poster child for the “evil corporation”, big oil is starting to reform. ExonnMobil has acknowledged that petroleum puts carbon into the air, and causes global warming. However, they still resist the idea that they should pay for the damage their products cause.

Impact Investors want to account for a corporation’s impact on the world, both good and bad. Corporations that improve the world, should be credited and have a higher value. Corporations that degrade the world, receive a penalty and are worthless. When the financial value of a corporation reflects their impact on the world, corporations are motivated to take more actions to improve the world. Not a bad concept!

Impact Investors represent over $300 billion of capital, just in the U.S. Another $18 trillion in investments are controlled by government pension funds that have agreed to the United Nations ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) guidelines, which follows goals that are supported by Impact Investors.

Impact Investors and ESG principles have been supported by a new type of institution, the “B” Corporation. Corporations (for and non-profits) have been the instrumentality of Capitalism for the last two centuries. But lately has been an understanding that something else was needed, leading to the creation of the Benefit Corporation (or “B” Corp). The “B” is a social good… preserving the environment, developing low-income housing, inventing affordable medicines, improving social equality… above shareholder profits, normally the highest priority for corporations. B Corps require independent audits to confirm that they truly performing according to their “Benefit” goals.

B Corps and Impact Investors will be a force for good. But the B Corp is typically a For-Profit corporation. What about the Charities and Foundations that have driven so many good causes? The next stage in B Corps could be BRRM or the Balanced Risk Revenue Model. BRRM allows for-profits and Charities to work together while preserving the best aspects of both types of corporations. I could go on and on about BRRM, and I will, but in another blog.

Full disclosure… last year I started working with Nicky’s Gardens of Hope, a new Charity to care for Autistic and disabled adults, to develop their operations. While some incredibly good services for disabled adults exist, they are rare. For-profits are too often focused on shareholder profits and non-profits are often too dependent on government funding (which is unreliable at best). Instead of choosing one model or the other, we’re introducing BRRM as a third alternative, providing the best financial features of both worlds, while still keeping the needs of disabled adults foremost.

There are many other innovators out there, and many in the financial world that are converting from traditional investors to Impact Investors. Impact Investors are learning that when corporations intentionally generate bad outcomes (think tobacco, big oil, gun manufacturers), eventually negative value can wipe out earnings. Good investments in good people, doing good things… usually have few skeletons in their closets that can wipe out their value.

Capitalism has proven to be one of the greatest engines of change in human history. If we choose to use that power, America can change the world. Again. The tarnish on Capitalism and Democracy can be wiped away by new good deeds. A new generation of Capitalists wants to ready to return Capitalism to its origins, and possibly make the next decades the greatest in human history! I don’t know about you, but joining this American revolution is the best way I can think of to spend my 4th of July!

What do you think? Is it time for Capitalism 2.0? Tell us what you’re thinking!

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The Meatless Revolution Has Arrived!


Meatless used to mean deprivation! Going meatless meant sacrifice… for religious reason, because your cholesterol is high, you might even want to save the planet from global warming. Sacrifice! Today, though, a switch from meat to meatless is probably more because we don’t quite trust meat anymore. That has placed us on the verge of a new world of fake meat. Looks like meat, tastes like meat, it may even be meat…. from a lab! Lets dig right in to a heaping serving of the meatless future!

Meatless products are just that… products. These are products that are being demanded by consumers. Meatless food is no longer the domain of a hippie generation or vegans. Multi-billion dollar corporations are developing meatless products that look and taste a lot more like real meat.

In the 20th century, vegetarians were a mere curiosity. We thought their diets were funny or weird. Today corporate America is fascinated by their diets and their market potential.

Whoever can make the best tasting, nutritious, meat alternative will control a huge market. The US domestic beef industry is worth $60 billion, and the poultry industry is worth another $50 billion. And then there is the global potential for a high quality meat substitute. Nations that have recently become rich, especially those in Asia who come from a vegetarian tradition, might “upscale” their diets with fake meat instead of adding beef, pork and fish.

The rise of the vegetarians in America has been aided by changing demographics. Previous generations of immigrants mostly came from Europe, and brought their meat based cuisines with them. In 1960, 75% of immigrants came from Europe. Today it is a mere 8%.

Recent immigrants are more likely to arrive from Asia or India, nations with vegetarian traditions. America’s palette has slowly evolved, taking in new tastes and spices, incorporating “meatless” foods into mainstream eating. Some dishes merely use vegetables instead of meats. Others use tofu, tempeh and other meat substitutes to add protein. Still, most of these early attempts at meatless dining were more interested in a balanced diet than in duplicating the flavor of beef or chicken.

While our palettes were changing, our domestic agricultural industry was also changing. Family farms were giving way to farm factories. At home, few families were eating home cooked meals. Instead, take out, prepared foods, and microwavable meals became common. While this was very convenient, people began to wonder about the quality of this food. It was too processed, had too many strange ingredients, and factory conditions raised many questions about food quality and how well treated animals are in a “food factory”.

For several decades food producers have been focused on reducing the cost of meat. The most obvious way to reduce cost was to reduce space, but close confinement of animals creates the conditions for breeding disease. Big agriculture struck back with antibiotics. After a while, daily doses of antibiotics caused diseases to become resistant. More antibiotics were given, along with synthetic hormones to speed up growth, and a bit of genetic engineering to keep it all working.

Factory food animals might live and die without ever seeing the sun, or standing on real dirt and grass. Inhumane treatment of animals and rising questions about the safety of meat from factories has made us take a close look at our burgers and chicken nuggets. Many do not like what they see. An alternative made from plants is just what these suspicious consumers want.

The rest of the world, even the non-vegetarian world, eats a lot of plants. Especially in poorer nations. Not just the US market. Fake meat has mostly been a premium product for wealthy American and European consumers. Meat is usually more expensive than the nutritional equivalent from plants. Producing “meat” in a factory, at a lower cost than real meat, that’s the Holy Grail of fake meat.

In theory, it’s possible. It takes 2 to 10 pounds of animal feed to make 1 pound of meat. A factory might be able to make a pound of meat from the very ingredients used to raise animals… without the animals.

Think about it. We’ve been able to make fake leather, fake wood, and fake just about everything else in factories. And we can sell those products at lower prices than the real items, because nature is pretty inefficient. At least compared to a factory. Food engineers are hard at work developing the technology that can make more “meat” from less materials than the natural process of feeding a cow or a chicken. Some entrepreneurs are even trying to grow real meat directly from animal cells. Without the need for the rest of the animal… hair and feathers, skin, bones, and organs… scientists may be able to beat nature at its own game.

Globally, the world meat market is worth $1 trillion or more. Depending on how efficiently we can produce fake meat, greenhouse gasses could be dramatically reduced. Nutrition in the poorest nations could be massively improved, diseases reduced and life prolonged. But are we willing to make the switch to fake meat?

Major fast food chains think so! While their history with fake meat is on again and off again, they all seem to be moving towards some form of non-animal meat. Some early attempts failed. Some are only available at limited restaurants or are just temporary offers.

Consider McDonald’s. In their earliest days they had the “Hula burger (grilled pineapple), which was replaced by the Fillet O’Fish way back in the 1960’s. They do have adopted a permanent vegetarian burger option… but only in Finland. McDonald’s has been reluctant to widely introduce fake meat because the major suppliers (Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger) have not been able to keep up with demand. McDonald’s does not want to introduce an item that then become unavailable. However, once production issues are worked out, McDonald’s may take a second look at a meatless burger.

Other fast food chains are moving ahead. Burger King has committed to the Impossible Burger. It is only available at select restaurants today, but it will be available nationally later in 2019. TGI Fridays, Carl’s Jr., and Red Robin serve either the Impossible Burger or the Beyond Burger. Del Taco, a lesser known sort of “Taco Bel”, has started to offer impossible burger based taco’s and burritos. Little Caesars will be the first to offer a fake sausage option.

The food revolution is on! What about you? Have you been eagerly awaiting a meatless burger or fried chicken without the chicken? Or do you dead the coming of the meatless revolution? Tell us what you think!

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Impact Investing… The Next Wave Has Arrived


Impact Investing is a simple idea that is taking the world by storm. In the last few years there has been a wave of interest in Impact Investing, and a wave of actual investments. But what is Impact investing? Why is it important? And why is it so important now? Lets dive right in and find out!

Today, most Americans invest in stocks, either directly or through mutual funds or other financial “instruments”. Back in the 1970s few Americans owned stocks. But as the stock market continued to rise faster than inflation, money slowly moved out of safe but poorly performing bank accounts and into Wall Street. Pensions evolved into 401Ks, and their managers turned away from low interest US Treasury notes and invested in stocks, bonds and more exotic investments.

As money migrated to financial investing, individuals who selected haw the money was invested gained immense power. Some large individual investors, calling themselves “activist investors”, wanted to do more than move their money from one firm to another. They wanted to set conditions for their investment, setting goals and timelines for corporate changes. Big funds and big investors realized that their enormous economic power could change the world.

Every corporation has different goals, which are often usually stated or implied in their financial reports. By creating published rules for their portfolios of stocks, bonds, and investments, funds can follow “themes”. One fund might only invest in South African bonds. Another may only buy technology stocks. Yet another may have a mandate to select higher risks investments, with better that average returns. Once portfolios are assembled thematically, non-professional investors can pick one fund (that is professionally managed) rather than researching, buying and managing their own portfolio.

Consider the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), the pension and insurance fund for teachers in America, with over $600 billion in assets! You can get a lot of companies to do what you want when you have that much money to invest. But TIAA is unique. TIAA may be answerable to millions of teachers, but those teachers are answerable to… kids.

Kids do ask the strangest questions. In the age of Google, they can ask very POINTED questions. Like… “Does teachers invest in guns?” “Why don’t you put more money into renewable energy?” “You invest in company ‘X’? Aren’t they big polluters?” “I saw a terrible new story about sexual harassment at company ‘Y’. The story said that your pension fund invests money in them. That’s not true, is it?”

These questions shaped how TIAA invested, over time divested itself of perfectly mainstream investments with questionable ethics. Later, NUVEEN became a TIAA company, and set up funds that were explicitly “Good Guy”, with over $20 billion worth of Impact Investments.

Did TIAA create Impact Investment? Not really. Unlike superhero movies, the origin story for Impact Investing involves more than just a spider bite.

TIAA and firms like it are one important thread in the story. But equally important is the rise of the Millennial. These young investors constantly face crises… the global financial crisis, climate change, China, globalization, school shootings (from Columbine to tonight’s latest shooting, these kids ARE Millennials), war between the Republicans and Democrats, immigration, school loans, government debt, their debt! The list is long.

Yet, the Millennial is used to the world… at least the on-line world… constantly innovating and changing to meet their needs. Shouldn’t their financial firms do the same? A quick search of the internet reveals search tools that rate firms by social value, by adherence to social investment principles, and similar “good guys” metrics. Organizations like GIIN (Global Impact Investment Network) promote and report on Impact Investment. New organizations are appearing almost every day.

A third thread leads to the United Nations. Since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, the relationship between world peace and the economy has been a regular item of discussion. After WWII, the world began rebuilding shattered nations. By the late 50’s, underdeveloped nations became the new battleground. Poverty, famine, and corruption were creating wars, revolutions, and mass migrations.

If poor nations could be developed, much misery could be avoided. But the lack of transparency in these nations led to corruption, unenforceable deals, and lost capital. Without transparency, there would never be enough deals from good governments and good companies to raise up the standard of living in poor nations.

The start of the new Millennia looked like the right to make a big move. In September of 2000, the United Nation hosted the Millennial conference in New York, and the Millennial Development Goals (MDG) were created. These eight goals promoted education, gender equality, health, human rights, and economic development. Few rejected these goals. Instead, some said that they lacked the funding. Enter the early pioneers of Impact Investment.

Of course, the UN did not stop with MDG. By 2015, MDG was expanded into 17 goals, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It also led to ESG:

  • Environment: Don’t intentionally do harm to the environment. Extra points for you if you have positive policies for recycling, and other environmental issues.
  • Social: Corporations and governments are responsible to their communities, both inside and outside their organizations. Support employment and education, and you’re a good guy. Grow through bribery, corruption, and sexual abuse, and… you’re not.
  • Governance: How do you run your organization? How many women and minorities are on your board of directors? Your senior management? How are whistle blowers treated? At a time when the US has nearly zero unemployment, well treated workers ARE a competitive advantage.

There are different estimates of the size of US Impact Investments. Should we just count the assets in funds that are explicitly “Impact Investment”? Or should we include all funds with similar goals? A common, but conservative, market estimate is at least $300 billion. A staggering amount, but it is only the beginning.

The US Social Investment Foundation uses a broader measure, including ESG. By the start of 2018, their measure of SRI (Sustainable, Responsible, & Impact investing) rose to $12 trillion. Yet another group, the PRI (Principles for Responsible Investment), tracks ESG signatories. The list, so far, includes over 1,200, asset managers, investment managers, and service professionals.

In just the US, ESG signatories include such prominent names as: the AFL-CIO, Alliance Bernstein, BlackRock, Kohlberg Kravits Roberts, Legg Mason, Mellon Capital, Neuberger Berman, Nomura Capital, Prudential Real Estate, Rockefeller Asset Management, and Turner Investment Partners. Add to this government retirements funds for Connecticut, (over $32 billion), Illinois, Los Angeles (nearly $60 billion), New York city and New York State. Europe has even more signatories, and more pension funds. Consider that the world’s government pension and insurance funds are valued at more than $18 trillion!

That’s a tsunami of money, and its washing up on the shores of nations around the world! If a tsunami can reshape the shoreline, this monetary tsunami will reshape politics and economies around the world. Or at least that’s my Niccolls’ worth! What about you? What do you think about the future of Impact Investing? Feel free to share you opinions here!

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Airplanes By The Numbers: The A380 Is Dead, The 737 Is Back In The Air, & The 787 is Grounded Again


As passengers squeeze into ever smaller seats for increasingly delayed flights, a war has been raging for between airline manufacturers. In America’s corner we have the Boeing Company, the world’s biggest Airplane manufacturer. In Europe’s corner we have AirBus, an amalgamation of Europe’s national airline industries from the 20th century. Each company had a different vision for the air travel industry in the 21st century. Ironically, both firms may have lost!

For decades, the 747 jet dominated national and international air travel. It was a revolutionary plane when it was launched in 1970, and became one of the most purchased airplanes in the world. Today, the design is old, the engines are inefficient, and it is limited to landing at larger airports. The world ha been waiting for a new solution.

But what sort of plane can replace the 747? The 747 defined the JUMBO jet. Larger than the earlier competition, it made air travel affordable. After the 747, everyone could afford to fly! Airbus had an idea for a 21st century sequel, the double-decker A380. By using two decks, the plane could be kept shorter and narrower, and still hold between 525 to 850 passengers (depending on configuration).

Boeing had other ideas. Boeing initially planned on building something similar to the A380, but quickly changed those plans. They could build a super-jumbo like the A380, but market data change their plans. Air travel was increasing, and delays at major airports were getting longer. The biggest airports were reaching the maximum number of daily flights, and a super-jumbo could only land at a few airports. Knowing this, Boeing looked at all of the smaller airports that still had available capacity, and focused on two planes, the 737 and the 787.

Boeing’s latest-greatest plane was the 787 jumbo, and their “market refresh” was the smaller 737 plane. The 787 was an all new, high-tech flagship plane that could replace the 747 in larger airports. The 737 is a venerable line of planes that were first launched in 1968, two years before the 747. These planes were upgraded to digital equipment, and new high-efficiency engines. They could still use many older spare parts, the repair crew didn’t need retraining and pilots could carry over their skills (and seniority) from previous 737 models. At least, that’s the way it was supposed to work.

The A380 is already out of the running. Boeing was right! Building a plane that can only land in the big airports was a bad idea. Big airports cannot get permission from their neighbors to expand in size, hours, or daily landings. New orders have not met expectations, and it was recently announced that the last A380 will be built and delivered in 2021.

Boeing should have been the big winner. But as everyone knows by now, the 737 is the subject of intense scrutiny following two fatal crashes. The “upgrades” were the problem. New engines make the plane “nose up” slightly, and can cause the engines to stall, crashing the plane. Software was supposed to fix the problem and adjust the say the plane flies. Keeping the “feel” of the plane remains the same from older planes to the latest upgrades. But the software may not have worked the way it was supposed to. Pilots did not receive extensive retraining since, “all 737’s fly the same way”. Automated features may “over steer” the planes, causing the crashes.

But there may be an even greater problem… over-delegation . Normally the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) provides oversight of the development and construction of new planes. And after the first crash, the FAA might have made more demands before letting the planes back into the air. But in an age of increasing delegation and disinterest in government control, the FAA handed control over more safety management and reporting to Boeing. After the second crash in less than a year, will the FAA continue to allow Boeing to fix it’s own problems?

Meanwhile, the 787 has had problems of it’s own. Back in 2012 there were electrical fires, which were blamed on defective batteries. Last year one plane had a double engine failure. Luckily, this happened after the plane landed. Then, last week, multiple 787’s were grounded either due to problems with engines and GPS.

The 21st century opened with three innovative commercial airline designs. One is already gone. One is fully grounded. The last, is partially grounded, but has had repeated problems. Hmmm… I wonder what a bus ticket costs!

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ESG… Impact Investors Rank “Good Guy” Companies


Can you do WELL, by doing GOOD?

Wherever there are investors that are ready to put money into companies, you will also find analysts trying to figure out if that investment is a good idea. But what is a good investment? What is it that turns someone looking at a “good investment” that turns them into actual investors… individuals who are ready to put their money into a company? What gives an investor the confidence to fund a business?

First of all, investors wouldn’t be investors for very long if they didn’t get a return on their money. Most investors want to make at least the “average return”. That average always changes, but for the last century stocks have returned around 10% per year, and bonds have returned around 5%. Bonds are generally viewed as safer than stocks, and therefore have a lower return. Likewise, the more rock-solid and safe that a stock (or bond) is, the lower their return.

So far, so good. If you want to get a higher return, the trade-off is higher risk. Take on enough risk and the company you invested in may not make enough money to pay the return you expect, or it could even go out of business, costing you your entire investment. When investments pay more than what appear to be similar investments, there is usually more risk. But what makes an investment risky?

Unfortunately, there are no simple answers. Teams of research analysts work around the clock on every publicly traded corporation in America to answer this question, and they often arrive at dramatically different conclusions. And, of course, there are always dishonest corporations that hold back data or intentionally mislead investors.

The US and the UK put a lot of manpower and regulations into making risk information available and understandable. Few other nations have such high standards, and therefore are believed to have more hidden risk. That’s why the US and the UK attract so much foreign investment. Russia, Africa, and other less transparent nations lag behind. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way, some universal and global way, to make it a bit less risky to invest?

Welcome to ESG: Environmental, Social and Governance. ESG won’t solve every problem nor will it de-risk every possible investment, but it does take a very big step towards creating a global standard (and cure?) for risk in investments.

While it is an over simplification, ESG basically promotes “good guy” thinking. When truly evil things are done in the world (polluting our environment, overcharging for critically needed medicine, abusing workers), we either find individual bad actors or we find that the corporation itself didn’t follow regulations and other rules. Corporations are regulated. They pay a ton of money for HR, Compliance and other internal groups that are supposed to sniff out bad people doing bad things.

Investment banks are regularly fined when they mislead investors. The Cigarette industry nearly collapsed due to their conspiracy to hide the dangers of their products. The asbestos industry DID collapse after their similar dishonesty was revealed. The drug companies that created the opioid crisis have just been fined $200 million. Oil and coal companies are being scrutinized. It does take a long time to discover endemic bad behavior, and when bad actors and bad corporations thrive, investors are often left with worthless investments.

If all corporations followed a universal set of ethics, risk would be easier to identify and track. It would be harder for bad players to hide. But corporations don’t want the world to know about their internal problems and shortcomings. Will they let the world know when they act selfishly or are just plain evil? They may not have a choice. Investors are better informed than in the past, and they are demanding to know how their investments are managed. Millenials are very clear that they want to invest in companies that support their personal interests and beliefs.

Even traditional investors are increasingly frustrated with the hidden risk in traditional corporations, and the idea that it’s only the “insiders” that can profit from big corporations. Investing in companies that support ESG has become very popular, and that interest is growing. In the US alone, ESG based assets totaled $8.7 trillion in 2016, a 33% increase from 2014. According to Oppenheimer, ESG based investments now represent 21.6% of all managed assets in the US, with a global total of $22.89 trillion.

WOW! ESG could define how capital markets work around the world. Lets look at the elements of ESG.

  • Environmental: The corporate world has generally accepted that the environment… has value. Degrading the environment creates negative value. Improving the environment creates positive value. Financial analysts know that when corporations illegally dump toxic chemicals, they are eventually found out. Regulators, courts, and shareholders will hold them accountable. Analysts now measure environmental value, incentivizing pro-environmental activities.
  • Social: Each corporation can make our world better or worse. A real estate developer that only builds luxury housing may be profitable, but generates little other value. A firm that builds housing for the poor, or hospitals, or schools… generates higher property values and new jobs… just like a luxury firm… but also does social good. Even when being a “good guy” only leads to a small positive value, it may be enough to sway some investors to the corporations that follow ESG.
  • Governance: Elizabeth Holmes created Theranos, a $10 billion fraud. Their board of directors was impeccable, two former secretaries of state (Henry Kissinger, George Schultz), Wells Fargo’s former Chairman, and more. But not a trace of medical experience. The brilliance of the board was intended to blind financial analysts to it’s complete lack of appropriate expertise. While this was obviously intentional fraud, many boards of directors are 100% multi-millionaire white men, over 60, with an MBA from an ivy league school. Is this the BEST board to… identify opportunities in China and India, understand the consumer preferences of minorities, attract new Millennials, sell to women (50% of every market)? If you want to attract ESG investors, you had better carefully consider the ethnicity of your board!

Even the United Nations has taken an interest in ESG. ESG could bring about a more equitable world and encourage investments in the least developed nations. It would even allow the developed world to put a value the untouched resources of the undeveloped world, which just might help preserve some of those resources for another generation or two.

Nor is the UN alone. The PRI is a group that trains and certifies groups in the Six Principles of Investment, that the United Nations developed. If ESG is how to be a good guy, then PRI is the Bro’ Code, for good guys. And then you have the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), which promotes “Sustainability Reporting”, a similar set of standards. Especially, for the Environmental and Social aspects of ESG.

It looks like ESG is breaking out all over the world! What about you? Do you have investments in a portfolio or a retirement fund? Have you ever thought about the values of your fund, and what your fund managers expect from the firms they invest in? Maybe you should give it a bit of thought, or even call the people who manage your money and see if ESG is on their mind!

What do you think? Should ESG matter? Is this just a fad, or does it represent values that you want to stick by? Let us know what you’re thinking!

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Noah’s Ark Theme Park Fails


Remember the children’s story from the Bible, “Noah’s Ark?” That’s the one where 4,000 years ago a small middle eastern family builds the world’s largest boat, sails through the world’s most catastrophic flood, while managing the world’s largest animal rescue? You remember the one… where Noah saves two of every living creatures on earth and then repopulates the world?

Most Bible scholars agree that this is indeed a Children’s story. It was never meant to be a history lesson. Yet, some Christians believe that the Bible, including the story of Noah’s Ark, is an accurate historical document. Some firmly believe that Noah had dinosaurs on the Ark! Could the story of the Ark be true? Is there any possibility that the Ark could be real?

The Bible is filled with strange tales. The strangest, and most violent of which, are usually left out of Sunday sermons. But just about everyone has heard the story of Noah’s Ark. I mean, it’s got all those animals and kids love animals! Even kids from secular families know the story about the Ark. But a very few people who truly, TRULY loved this story want it to be true. When they grew up, they would build a real Ark.

Did you know that there have been several attempts to build an “authentic” replica of the Ark? that’s true! Except, of course, that none of these “replicas” had much to do with the Biblical boat. Some used a steel hull, others used modern tools and materials. None used the materials and tools from Noah’s time, because… well… that would be very difficult to do.

Still, regardless of the questionable practices, one Ark that been getting attention. The one in Kentucky called, “The Ark Encounter”, that was created by Biblical Creationist Ken Ham. But before we look at The Ark Experience, lets first take a look at why biblical scholars argue over the historical facts of the Ark. 

If the Bible is right the Ark was something like 500 feet long and built over 4,000 years ago. Bronze was still a relatively new material. However, to even have a hope of this Ark holding together for a few hours in a calm sea, it would take iron or steel nails. But iron barely existed, and steel would not be invented for a long, long time.

Given how little metal existed in the world, just the nails used to hold together the planks of the Ark represented a fantastic amount of wealth. Yet, the Bible tells us that the Ark, a boat the size of a cruise ship, was built by a poor family of 6 without any help or previous experience in building ships. A bit difficult to imagine?   

In reality, it’s a lot harder to imagine. In Noah’s time, everyone was a “subsistence farmer”. It took just about 1 farmer to make enough food for 1 person. Noah’s family would need to spend almost every hour of the day just to feed and clothe themselves. They would have very little free time, certainly not enough for the world’s biggest DIY project.

What does it take to build an Ark? According to the FAQ on the Ark Experience site, it took $135 million to make a replica of Noah’s Ark. Even allowing for inflation, Noah would have been too poor to pay even a few million for the lumber he would have needed. Since there wasn’t any steel, and he wouldn’t have been able to buy bronze tools, that means that this family would need to fell, strip, and finish these trees on their own to turn out the 3 million board feet that The Ark Encounter stated was needed for their replica.

Of course, that means that they would also need to mine the ore they would need for the millions of bronze nails to secure together the planks of the Ark. Dozens of lifetimes would be spent just moving all of these materials around, sharpening tools, and making new tools when old tools wore out. Quite a task for a family with very little time to spare after they feed and clothe themselves.

Another small task for the overworked Noah family is to be security guards for the greatest treasure of that age! Not the Ark… but the nails for the Ark. Millions of bronze nails, plus their tools, the copper and tin mines, and the foundry to refine and forge bronze, would be incredibly valuable. You would need to guard their metallic treasure day and night.    

With a family of just six, it would literally take thousands of years to accomplish the tasks that The Ark Encounter website tells us are needed to duplicate Noah’s task. Of course, Noah’s family was supposed to have built the Ark with their own hands, while the replica in Kentucky was built with steel, power tools, bulldozers and a lot of hired workers.

And the Ark Experience Ark doesn’t, well, float. The Bible clearly states that the Ark was covered in “pitch” to waterproof it. The Ark Project chose not to coat their replica because that would make it sticky and gross. If the replica was ever placed in water, even the people who manage the Ark Encounter would expect it to sink. With a rather inauthentic Ark, and enough work to keep a small family occupied for a thousand years, did the Ark Encounter prove anything? I think it did!

While it was hardly intentional, Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter conclusively proved that a small family 4,000 years ago, could not have built the Ark. It’s not just a question of how impossible it would have been for a bronze aged family to do all of the work (and find all of the resources) necessary to build an Ark. Even with $130 million, Ham’s team was unable to build the Ark without the use of modern technology.

Unfortunately, the investors who raised the $130 million for the Ark Encounter assumed that Ken Ham was a bit better at math than he actually was. Ken has rather deplorable skills at estimating the work needed for a carpentry job were no better at his skills in estimating ticket sales. The Ark Encounter might sink if it were set afloat on the Red Sea, but it has proved to be fully capable of floating on a sea of red ink.

Did Noah and his family build a giant Ark 4,000 years ago? It seems extremely unlikely! Then again Ken Ham is having quite a few problems building a theme park for a giant Ark today. Maybe we should just leave stories about floods and Arks to fairy tales? Yeah, that’s probably a good idea!

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Boss Trump Makes America Great Again!


Union

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is a multi-faceted individual. He’s the President of the United States. He’s an international businessman. He’s a father… well, to some of his kids. And he’s the smartest man on earth, or so he tells us. He’s a Republican, but he was also a Democrat. But the most important role that Donald J. Trump has ever played is of course… America’s most powerful Union Boss!

Union boss? Well, yeah. Haven’t you heard him promise new jobs in the coal industry? He’ll make America a major manufacturer again? Or that we need to protect our Steel industry from foreign competition? What about the Trump Tariff? When was the last time that you heard anyone outside of a Union utter all of these pro-union positions? It’s like listening to the reincarnation of Jimmy Hoffa!

Think about it. Trump is not the kind of leader who cares if his followers belong to his “union” or not. Or even if they voted against him. Or that they don’t belong to a union. No, Donald knows what good for all of us and if he has to bust a few heads to fix America’s labor problems, he’s ready! Consider the following… 

Jobs and More Jobs: Trump has not only promised the American people more jobs, but he also promised that these will be “God Jobs”.  That means good, well-paying jobs, with benefits. Trump repeatedly tweeted that American firms cannot just downsize or outsource without going through some sort of process… a  government-approved process, with worker participation!

Regulation: Trump is crystal clear that we must get rid of regulations that constrain businesses. Except for the new regulations that he wants in place. Like the rest of the (new?) Republican party, he believes that business should listen to the Government, and follow their instructions… like good little Capitalists. (EXCEPT, Capitalists are not supposed to tell businesses that… sigh! Nevermind. Back to the story.)

Examples? Over and over Trump has said that when American businesses outsource to China they just don’t understand what they are doing. China steals American intellectual property! Business leaders do not understand that the contracts they signed with China ill expose their patents. How about that! The thousands of American firms operating in China … many of which are global behemoths with hundreds of lawyers… just don’t understand how to read a contract like Boss rump!

Luckily, Boss Trump can provide government officials who can tell these businesses which contracts they can and cannot sign, and which countries they can or cannot work with. Imagine those silly company executives thinking that Capitalism is all about profitability, financial models, and return on investment! The government is much better at looking after your best interests! Let your government make the decisions, and everything will be A-OK! After all, isn’t that what Conservatives have been saying since Ronald Reagan? 

Tariffs: Protectionist tariffs have always a favorite of Union Bosses. While conservatives from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush have been against tariffs and for open trade and globalization, union bosses have always wanted to protect union jobs from foreign competition. 

Now, other union bosses are heaping praise on Boss Trump for joining the flock! Look at this headline, “UAW President Dennis Williams praises Trump’s tariff approach”.  Or this tweet from Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, “The admin’s steel & aluminum tariffs are good steps towards fixing predatory practices that hurt workers & cheat companies that produce in US.” High praise indeed! 

Free Enterprise: Perhaps the best measure of a union boss is his disdain of free enterprise. Workers first, profits second! Well, General Motors recently announced that they were going to lay off workers from car lines that they were going to close down, due to lack of sales. In the very best of Union Bsss traditions, GM was told in no uncertain terms that there will be NO layoffs of American workers… before the next election.

Trump even tweeted to GM,  “Very disappointed with General Motors and their CEO, Mary Barra, for closing plants in Ohio, Michigan, and Maryland…  The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies”. Is this the 21st century equivalent of, “Nice factory youse gots here. Shame if anything was to go and happen to it.” Good for you Boss Trump for keeping it fresh!  

Back to Reality: Of course Donald Trump, President of the United States is not really a Union Boss. After all, if he was a real union boss… say, like Jimmy Hoffa… his closest associates would have criminal records and would spend years just one step ahead of an FBI criminal investigation. But that’s just fantasy!

I mean, compare that with our President who doesn’t know anyone who has been indicted. Except for Flynn, and Manaforte, and Cohen, and gates and… hmmm. It is a pretty long list. Well, what really matters is that none of them have been found guilty, or imprisoned or… Oh? All of them?  Well, maybe Trump really is the greatest Union Boss of all time! He did say that he would Make American Government Grate again. And I can’t remember a time when Washington was as grating as it is today!

Have a Great New Year America… and see you next year! 


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Intellectual Disability… Why Growing Up Is A Growing Problem!


Many America families have a child with intellectual disabilities (ID) – autism, Downs Syndrome, a traumatic head injury, and many other conditions. These children may never fully developing their mental capabilities. They will grow older, but they may never fully grow up mentally. FOr the rest of their lives, they will have greater challenges in making friends, fitting into their community, getting a job, finding a home, and… getting the services they need to lead a meaningful life.

Is this a result of Trump’s war against health care? Well, not really. The 2017 budget actually had an increase in funding for special education. Which is, strangely, a part of the problem.

Not that long ago, being born with ID didn’t just mean that a child would have a difficult life, it meant that this child’s life would also be very short. Few ID children lived past the age of 21. Naturally, with few ID adults, there were few services for ID adults. But that was decades ago, in the last century.

Today, advances in healthcare have dramatically improved the lifespans of ID adults. Living into their 40s, 50s, and beyond is now common. Medicine has doubled their lifetime. It is a scientific miracle! But, the organizations that provide services for ID adults haven’t caught up. They are still working with the demographics of the last century. Its as if these millions of adults did not exist.

The previously mentioned increase in Federal funding goes primarily to the department of education, to pay for children’s services. Which is a good thing, since EVERYONE with ID needs more funding and services. But it does nothing for children who will turn 21 this year.

At 21, everything ends. There are no more school programs. A severely disabled child that and in a boarding school, they lose their home. Why? One reason is that some years ago something called deinstitutionalization happened. A lot of hospitals and facilities did a very poor job of looking after their patients. Mental hospitals, such as Willowbrook, became synonymous with abuse.

Since the 1970s, reformers have been working to close large hospitals and institutions that serve individuals with mental and intellectual disabilities. When new drugs were developed to help dangerous schizophrenic patients with a history of violence, it made sense to close prison type institutions.

However, individuals with Autism and similar intellectual disabilities were just beginning to be diagnosed in the 1970s. Unlike schizophrenia, the ID population is rarely violent. They have been stuck in between the deinstitutionalization movement (which is closing institutions) and a rapidly growing number of autistic adults.

There are indeed many former mental patients that can live independently with medication and support services. Unfortunately, while the idea of moving these patients into the community is not necessarily wrong, the money needed for this support just isn’t there.

For severely ID adults, who may not be able to feed themselves, let alone live independently, there are virtually no beds or services. According to a recent Psychology Today article, “the US now has only 3.5% as many state hospital beds as it did 60 years ago. We have closed over 500,000 beds, without providing sufficient community services and adequate housing to pick up the slack.”

If that seems like a paltry number of beds, the reality is worse. Apparently half of these beds are only available to individuals who are in the correctional system or are awaiting trial.

If institutions don’t work, and deinstitutionalization was never funded, what’s next for ID adults? The answer, unfortunately, is, “Not Much”. Parents, providers, and even governement agencies seem to know what doesn’t work. Yet, a new system has as yet to arise to disrupt the industry.

Maybe, just maybe, that disrupter has arrived. It’s very early days, but A new group called “Nicky’s Gardens of Hope” has started working on that solution. They’ve developed a different way to fund services and what may be a better way to deliver services to ID adults. They’ve got a long, long road ahead of them, but they just might be onto something new!

Do you have an autistic or ID child that will soon be an adult? Interested in finding out more? You can contact Nicky’s Gardens of Hopehere!

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How The Brexit Stole Thanksgiving!


We waited all year ’round for Thanksgiving. It’s become America’s favorite holiday, eclipsing even Christmas. This is the day that we all sit down together and give thanks for the good things that happened that year. Did junior got accepted into a top tier school? Has your new business venture taken off? Did your investments fatten your retirement fund? Lots of things to give thanks for this year. Unless you’re the Turkey… or if you live in the UK!

Instead of savoring a juicy Thanksgiving Turkey, in 2018 all the UK had to look forward to was the arrival of the nastiest of all holiday creatures, the BREXIT! No one knows exactly what the Brexit is or what it wants, but everyone agrees that this most improbable of beasts is the UK’s greatest nightmare.

Yes, it’s true, the Brexit is a horrifying creature, and it gets worse every day. Especially, if you’re a Prime Minister by the name of Theresa Mary May. 

Strange. I didn’t feel a rhyme coming on. 

Anyway, back in 1993, the UK complained that the US was getting everything it wanted. America was too big to compete with, and their new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), would linking the economies of the US, Mexico, and Canada into a super competitor. The UK wanted Europe to do the same and create a single trading region. Germany, France, and Italy agreed. And the EU was launched.

The EU had several immediate objectives. First, Europe needed a common currency, Without constantly trying to figure out translations between currencies, tourists would spend more and business across the border would be easier. Done: The Euro was created. Less developed areas (Grece, Portugal) could be developed by turning them into “outsourcing” centers. Done: the economies of poorer nations more than doubled. And of course, it was supposed to create prosperity across the EU. The UK grew even faster than most EU nations. What was the result? 

The UK complained that the EU was getting everything it wanted. They said that EU bureaucrats were too big and powerful. The EU headquarters in Brussels was telling them how to run their economy!

The UK is intimidated by Brussels? The former ruler of most of the world is getting beat up by Brussels? The second largest financial capital in the world (maybe the first… all that hidden offshore banking you hear about flows from former UK territories and through London banks) is afraid of Brussels? The only time Brussels brings fear and intimidation to MY Thanksgiving is when the Brussel Sprout souffle lands on the table.   

Conservative, like Boris Johnson, wanted to make the UK great again. They wanted “UK First”. But it’s a lot harder to put together a plan than to complain about someone else’s plan. The process would be complicated and SOMEONE will be unhappy no matter what you do. And it could fail! That’s not good if you want to be re-elected! 

Boris and his gang of bargain basement Grinches got together and gave this a good thinking out. They puzzled and puzzled till their puzzlers were sore. Then they thought of something they hadn’t before… let’s have a public referendum. Let everyone choose! If the country is ruined, let some other blokes lose! But if it does pass, and the transition goes well… then BREXIT baby BREXIT, uhhh even if it does slightly smell.

More rhymes… must be the time of year.

So, there you have it. The Brexit was born in 2016, without a plan or even the understanding of the financial consequences if it should fail. Rather than being carefully thought out, the Brexit has become a beast of its own making. THose who created the Brexit sold it as a fuzzy bunny or a soft cuddly kitten, but it has quickly mutated into Godzilla’s uglier cousin. Well, it’s not Turkey, but look at those drumsticks!

Still, all may not be lost. There could be a bright side to all of this. The world could learn a lesson from the Brexit. Mostly about what you should not do. You should never believe any “movement” that promises all benefits and no problems.  Never accept the “everyone is unfair” argument, without supporting evidence. Never assume that you must get the most out of every deal.  

The list goes on and on. Basically, be reasonable, listen to arguments from the opposition, and when you complain about the deals that you started… expect that not everyone is going to roll up and do what you want. So, maybe, give thanks and don’t be a giant Brexit!

 

 

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