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This volume breaks new ground by approaching Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) as an explicitly ethical practice in financial markets. The work explains the philosophical and practical shortcomings of 'long term shareholder value' and the origins and conceptual structure of SRI, and links its pursuit to both its deeper philosophical foundations and the broader, multi-dimensional global movement towards greater social responsibility in global markets. Interviews with fund managers in the Australian SRI sector generate recommendations for better integrating ethics into SRI practice via ethically informed engagement with invested companies, and an in-depth discussion of the central practical SRI issue of fiduciary responsibility strengthens the case in favour of SRI. The practical and ethical theoretical perspectives are then brought together to sketch out an achievable ideal for SRI worldwide, in which those who are involved in investment and business decisions become part of an 'ethical chain' of decision makers linking the ultimate owners of capital with the business executives who frame, advocate and implement business strategies. In between there are investment advisors, fund managers, business analysts and boards. The problem lies in the fact that the ultimate owners are discouraged from considering their own values, or even their own long term interests, whilst the others often look only to short term interests. The solution lies in the latter recognising themselves as links in the ethical chain.
Program-related investments (PRIs) are hybrid grants/loans made by foundations to charities. They allow foundations to stretch their limited funds further. This book provides foundations with guidelines for evaluating PRIs, monitoring grant recipients, and tracking returned funds.
This book records the first success stories of a new form of financial intermediation, the hometown investment fund, that has become a national strategy in Japan, partly to meet the need to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The hometown investment fund has three main advantages. First, it contributes to financial market stability by lowering information asymmetry. Individual households and firms have direct access to information about the borrowing firms, mainly SMEs, that they lend to. Second, it is a stable source of risk capital. The fund is project driven. Firms and households decide to invest by getting to know the borrowers and their projects. In this way the fund distributes risk but not so that it renders risk intractable, which was the problem with the "originate and distribute" model. Third, it contributes to economic recovery by connecting firms and households with SMEs that are worthy of their support. It also creates employment opportunities, at the SMEs as well as for the pool of retirees from financial institutions who can help assess the projects. Introduction of the hometown investment fund has huge global implications. The world is seeking a method of financial intermediation that minimizes information asymmetry, distributes risk without making it opaque, and contributes to economic recovery. Funds similar to Japan's hometown investment fund can succeed in all three ways. After all, the majority of the world's businesses are SMEs. The first chapter explains the theory behind this method, and the following chapters relate success stories from Japan and other parts of Asia. This book should encourage policymakers, economists, lenders, and borrowers, especially in developing countries, to adopt this new form of financial intermediation, thus contributing to global economic stability.
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