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Economic Value Management:

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John Wiley & Sons

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Articles of Interest

On Valuation and Corporate Governance

February 11, 2016

“Finance is an intermediate good like trucking. It does not directly provide value like food or health care, the value in the financial sector depends exclusively on its ability to make the rest of the economy function better. This means effectively getting money to businesses and households who need to borrow. And it means providing safe investment vehicles for people to save for retirement or other purposes. An efficient financial sector provides these services using as few resources as possible. With that in mind, it is hard to make the case that our financial system is efficient. It has exploded in size relative to the rest of the economy over the last four decades, with the narrow commodities and securities trading sector increasing fourfold”. From CEPR. Read the article…


Gravitational-Wave Observatory “caught the death spiral and aftermath of two huge black holes 1.3 billion light-years from Earth, merging together in a titanic and catastrophically violent event…The black holes had masses of 36 and 29 times the mass of the Sun before they merged. After they merged they created a single black hole with a mass of 62 times that of the Sun…. 3 solar masses [were] converted into energy: the energy of the gravitational waves themselves. And the amount of energy is staggering: This single event released as much energy as the Sun does in 15 trillion years.” From Slate. Read the article…


“The dominance of industry-funded research for specific chemicals has become more common as funding for biological research from the National Institutes of Health has become scarcer.” Re: vinyl chloride, “a chemical used to make polyvinyl chloride plastic. PVC is found in an endless array of products from plastic wrap to vinyl siding to children’s toys” although one “study was supposed to tally all brain cancer deaths of workers exposed to vinyl chloride, Union Carbide … counted only one of the 23 brain-tumor deaths in Texas City.”  From the Center for Public Integrity. Read the article…


“Morgan Stanley agreed to pay $3.2 billion to end a joint federal-state investigation into its handling of mortgage-backed securities.” “In the lead-up to the 2008 crisis, financial firms spurred risky mortgage lending by packaging bad loans into securities and selling them to investors. When the housing bubble burst, borrowers defaulted on their mortgages and the securities turned, famously, “toxic”” Morgan Stanley “clear[ed] dozens of loans for purchase after less than one minute of review per loan file.”  From Bloomberg. Read the article…


February 10, 2016

“According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, at the current rate, women will not see equal pay until 2059.” From Fortune. Read the article…


The Fed “is requiring banks to include, in a round of stress tests commencing this year, to prepare for the possibility of negatively yielding Treasury rates. The scenario is purely hypothetical and not a forecast, according to a Jan. 28 Fed news release .However, the development is part of a larger scenario of a world where zero rates are morphing into negative rates.” From CNBC. Read the article…


February 8, 2016

A truly greedy executive would keep a much lower profile than Shkreli: there would be no headline-grabbing exponential price hikes, just boring but reliable ticks upward; no interviews, no tweeting, and absolutely no hip-hop feuds. A truly greedy executive would stay more or less anonymous.”The Daraprim saga has as much to do with the Food and Drug Administration as with Shkreli: although the drug’s patent expired in the nineteen-fifties, the F.D.A. certification process for generic drugs is gruelling enough that, for the moment, whoever owns Daraprim has a virtual monopoly in America.” From the New Yorker. Read the article…


February 7, 2016

Although Sumner Redstone “stepped down … as chairman of CBS and Viacom,” “Redstone continues to have overwhelming control of the companies through ownership of 80% of the voting shares.” But if he dies or is deemed incapacitated, Mr. Redstone did plan what should happen to those controlling interests should he die or be deemed incapacitated, his shares “will go into an irrevocable trust that would be managed by seven of his associates, relatives and board members.”  The members of a trust have duties to the beneficiaries of the trust, Redstone’s descendants. But as managers and board members of the companies, there are perhaps conflicting duties to all shareholders and stakeholders. The set-up is a mess. From the Wall Street Journal. Read the article...


Norway’s $810 billion oil fund, “the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, has warned the biggest US banks that time is running out for them to end the highly contentious practice of combining the roles of chief executive and chairman.” From the Financial Times. Read the article…


“Years of tighter rules from legislators and bank regulators have done nothing to fix the toxic, me-first cultures that afflict big financial firms.”  From a member of Germany’s central bank: “One idea is to increase the capital requirements of banks that are found to have violated rules and laws repeatedly. That not only enhances the safety of its operations but also imposes a real cost on future profits.” From two Minneapolis professors: Make “financial executives personally liable for a portion of any fines and fraud-based judgments a bank enters into, including legal settlements. .The professors call this covenant banking.” From the New York Times. Read the article…


February 5, 2016

“Disposing waste water from oil production into underground wells in Southern California likely contributed to a swarm of earthquakes, according to a new report. While this appears to be the first time that researchers have found evidence linking oil production to California earthquakes, in recent years other states like Oklahoma have faced dramatic increases in earthquakes that have coincided with fracking and oil booms. Over the past six years the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has grown from a small handful annually to over 900 last year.…Scientists focused on Oklahoma found that pressure can build up over large distances, and that earthquakes can occur far from disposal sites, despite the potential connection.”  From Fortune. Read the article here…


Roughly 80% of large companies report they’ve seen an important strategic decision go haywire in the past three years because it was based on "flawed" data. Almost three-quarters (72%) say that delays in getting information to the right people have torpedoed “at least one” major effort in the same period.” From Fortune. Read the article...


“Twenty major companies—including American Express Co., Macy’s Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.—are banding together to use their collective data and market power in a bid to hold down” healthcare costs and ultimately, perhaps, “form a purchasing cooperative to negotiate for lower prices.” The data sharing is to be used in part to determine “which treatments and health providers had better outcomes in treating certain illnesses.” From the Wall Street Journal. Read the article...

“The U.S. spends two-and-a-half times as much on health care (public and private) per capita as the average for industrialized countries, yet performs poorly on infant mortality, life expectancy, levels of obesity and child-vaccination rates.” UnitedHealth covers 45 million people. Nearly 20% of premiums it receives went to “profit or overhead.” From Bloomberg. Read the article...


“Could outrage over Martin Shkreli push pharma companies to change?” From the Christian Science Monitor. Read the article...


“The only group with a rise in employment rate over the year is workers without high school degrees.” “The labor market is still not tight enough to produce healthy wage growth.” From the Center for Economic Policy and Research. Read the article...


“It’s not every day you see a major investment bank [in this case Goldman Sachs] say it might have to start asking broader questions about capitalism itself.” From Bloomberg. Read the article...


“A $131 million penalty [is being assessed] against HSBC North America Holdings, Inc. and HSBC Finance Corporation for deficiencies in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing. The penalty is being assessed in conjunction with an agreement involving similar deficiencies that HSBC announced Friday [February 5] with the U.S. Department of Justice, other federal agencies, and the state attorneys general.” From the Federal Reserve. Read the article...


“Under California law, the layoff of more than 50 employees within 30 days at a single location like Yahoo’s Sunnyvale headquarters requires an employer to give workers 60 days of advance notice. A similar federal law, known as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, requires advance notice for a layoff of 500 or more employees.” A lawsuit by a former employee “alleges that the company’s senior managers routinely manipulated the” McKinsey recommended quarterly performance review system that ranks everyone in the company on a scale of 1 to 5 “to fire hundreds of people without just cause to achieve the company’s financial goals.” “Similar systems were once widely used in corporate America, and companies like still employ analogous methods.”  From the New York Times. Read the article…


“Our studies showed that pain caused (primarily) by economic uncertainty afflicts people of any background, socioeconomic level, age, gender and educational level.” From Fortune. Read the article…

A Chinese group is set to buy the Chicago stock exchange touting the potential to “bring exciting Chinese growth companies to US investors.”  The “Chicago Stock Exchange is working a new product called CHX|snap an on-demand auction that can be performed during the regular trading session that seeks to pull business back from so-called dark pools, exchanges that are operated by investment banks outside the public market.” From the Financial Times.  Read the article…


“We find in our review of the risk factor disclosures of 50 large companies that disclosures often are generic and do not provide clear, concise and insightful information. The disclosures typically are not tailored to the specific company. Instead, they tend to represent a listing of generic risks, with little to help investors distinguish between the relative importance of each risk to the company. In addition, the language is often repetitive and written with legal language and a compliance-oriented approach (instead of using plain English to help investors better understand and evaluate company-specific risks).” From research by Ernst and Young for the Investor Responsibility  Research Center. Read the report…





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Corporate Governance Alliance Digest


Eleanor Bloxham talks with Tom Lehner about the Business Roundtable's 2005 guidelines on shareholder director communications here.


Recent News and Publications

February 1, 2016

"Years of CEO Stock Incentives Are Causing Economic Volatility Today" is published by Fortune.

Read the article...


January 13, 2016

"How Market Punditry Causes Irrational Behavior" is published by Fortune.

Read the article...


December 31, 2015

"Corporate America's Impressive Highs and Depressing Lows in 2015" is published by Fortune.

Read the article...


Winter 2015

Eleanor Bloxham writes about the perils of overgeneralizing about the generations (or any group) in “The Misuse of Patterns in the Workplace” published in the Winter edition of the Phil Kappa Phi Forum magazine.


December 12, 2015

"Can the Fossil Fuel Industry Survive a Climate Change Agreement?" is published by Fortune.

Read the article...


December 9, 2016

"Exxon Is Starting to Feel the Heat Over Climate Change" is published by Fortune.

Read the article...


November 2, 2015

Eleanor Bloxham is interviewed by Will Kramer on inequality and the CEO to worker pay ratio for Risk Management Magazine.

Read the article...


October 30, 2015

"Here’s why Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's board are in hot water" is published by Fortune.

Read the article...


October 30, 2015

"Trouble is brewing at the SEC" is published by Fortune.

Read the article...




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