Fund managers who ignore climate risk breaching ‘fiduciary duty’
Last updated on 16 January 2014, 8:43 am
UN climate chief says future investments must reflect need for planet to avoid warming to dangerous levels By Ed King Leading fund managers could be breaking the law if they refuse to take into account the threats posed by climate change, a leading UN official said yesterday. Speaking at an investment summit in New York, the United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said bankers would be “blatantly in breach of their fiduciary duty” if they failed to accelerate the greening of their portfolios. “Investment decisions need to reflect the clear scientific evidence, and fiduciary responsibility needs to grasp the intergenerational reality: namely that unchecked climate change has the potential to impact and eventually devastate the lives, livelihoods and savings of many, now and well into the future,” she said. The warning came on the same day a study by low carbon business lobby group CERES revealed that over a trillion dollars of investment in low carbon infrastructure is needed by 2030. It outlined 10 recommendations for the public and private sector to leverage these levels of funding, including favourable debt funding for low carbon projects and a greater focus on market transparency. A new report by the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, a group that analyses the content of selected funds, reveals that of 460 funds, only five received a climate-friendly rating, while 173 funds were rated as taking “no action”. Figueres added: “I urge institutional investors to request companies they are invested in to disclose their carbon footprint and potential stranded assets such as those linked to the mining, exploration and burning of fossil fuels, and for members of pension funds to hold their trustees to account in this respect.” Funding fall The challenge of reaching one trillion dollars was highlighted by new figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which
Obama's proposed minimum wage of $10.10 would help a million Florida workers VIDEO
Video: Florida dems working to increase minimum wage
By William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau
January 12, 2014
WASHINGTON — Can you get by in Florida on earnings of $7.93 an hour?
Florida's minimum wage rose by 14 cents on Jan. 1, which makes it 68 cents higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 but still leaves hundreds of thousands of workers in the state hovering near the poverty line.
Now President Barack Obama wants to give them and millions of others across the country a raise to $10.10 an hour by 2016 through a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage. More than a million Florida workers would benefit because they now make less than $10.10 an hour, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
"I would be so, so happy," said Wilna Destin, 39, who makes $9.02 an hour as a housekeeper at a Walt Disney World hotel. She and her husband, a kitchen worker who also makes $9.02, say the extra dollar would improve their lot as they raise two children.
"If I got, like, $10 an hour, I would be able to live in a better neighborhood," she said. "And my children could go to a better school."
The impact would be especially significant in Florida, which has the second-largest number of people making minimum wage after Texas, mostly because of the large numbers of workers in hotels, restaurants and other service industries.
Obama's proposal, part of a pitch to confront income inequality, revives a long-contentious debate about the minimum wage and its impact on jobs.
Proponents say it would not only bolster the working poor but indirectly benefit those who make more than the minimum wage by putting upward pressure on the salary scale.
"Workers need multiple jobs just to survive," said Pablo De Leon, senior field representative in Florida for the AFL-CIO. "A worker making minimum wage is still close to poverty level. And we are a consumer economy. For it to thrive, it's good
House Dems seek to force GOP's hand on minimum wage hike
By Mike Lillis - 02/13/14 05:33 PM EST
CAMBRIDGE, MD – House Democrats are launching an effort to force Republicans' hand on the minimum wage.
The Democrats will introduce a discharge petition later this month designed to force a floor vote on a proposal to hike the minimum wage, even in the face of entrenched opposition from GOP leaders.
The discharge petition faces a high bar, as it would require at least 18 Republicans to buck their leadership and endorse the measure – a scenario the Democrats readily acknowledge is unlikely.
"I don't think we're ever confident that we're going to get 18 Republicans to sign a discharge petition," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) conceded during the Democrats' annual issues retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Still, the Democrats are hoping the extra political pressure will amplify the Democrats' economic message this election year, while highlighting the stark differences between the parties when it comes to strategy for helping the working class amid an ongoing jobs crisis.
"It's not only the right thing to do, it's about time to do it," Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters.
Public opinion polls show overwhelming support for a minimum wage hike; even if the discharge petition fails, it puts Republicans in the tough position of rejecting a popular economic policy in a still-fragile jobs market.
The minimum wage hike is just one in a long list of policy priorities President Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing this year in hopes of drawing a sharp distinction between the parties' economic agendas. Another of those proposals is comprehensive immigration reform; Democratic leaders did not rule out the possibility that they would eventually push a discharge petition for that bill, as well.
"We do see immigration as an economic issue, reducing the deficit [and] growing the e
Extra Pay for Extra Work
For the first 40 years of its existence, a worker’s right to time-and-a-half for overtime, established by federal law in 1938, operated as intended. It guarded against exploitation and inequality by ensuring that extra hours meant extra pay.
Since the mid-1970s, however, that right has been severely eroded. The law gives the Labor Department the authority to update the salary threshold and job descriptions that define who is eligible for overtime pay. The last meaningful update was in 1975, when the Ford administration raised the salary threshold significantly to account for inflation.
In 2004, rule changes by the Bush administration, which remain in force today, basically locked in the law’s by-then outdated and inadequate salary threshold, while giving employers more leeway to define workers in ways that make them ineligible for overtime pay.
President Obama’s directive to the Labor Department to revamp the nation’s overtime rules is an opportunity to undo the damage. By reasserting a meaningful right to overtime, it could lift pay for an estimated five million workers a week and, in the process, help to mitigate the wage stagnation and income inequality that increasingly plague the American economy.
The most important change the department can make is to raise the salary threshold — the pay level below which all hourly and salaried workers are guaranteed overtime pay. Today’s threshold, $455 a week, is unacceptably low, barely above the poverty level for a family of four. The Labor Department should set the new threshold at around $1,000 a week, which is where it would be if it simply had been adjusted for inflation since 1975.
By Pete Danko February 7, 2014
Walmart Leads U.S. In On-site Energy Production
Walmart has a long way to go before it realizes the full power-producing potential of is vast roof space, but the company has been chipping away at it: In the latest figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Walmart is the top on-site energy producer in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership program – the company’s third straight year at No. 1.
According to the EPA, Walmart’s annual on-site renewable generation is now just shy of 175 million kilowatt-hours. The average U.S. residential utility customer uses 10,837 kWh of electricity per year, so Walmart’s on-site energy generation is equivalent to all the electricity used annually by 16,133 households. It’s also 1 percent of Walmart’s total annual energy use.
A Walmart solar project in Colorado (image via Walmart)
Walmart says its on-site power comes from solar, wind and biogas. The company almost certainly doesn’t use actual on-site biogas; as EBay does at a data center in Utah, the customary practice is to use on-site fuel cells that can run on biogas, but since biogas is rarely available at a corporate site, the fuel cells run on natural gas while the company pays a premium to fund the production of biogas elsewhere.
Solar is the big true on-site generator for Walmart – as of last fall, it led all U.S. companies with 89 megawatts of installed solar power, having put in 24 MW in the previous year alone. Costco (47 MW), Kohl’s (45), Apple (41) and Ikea (35), rounded out the top five on that count.
Ikea must not participate in the Green Powership Program – it doesn’t appear on the on-site power list put out by the EPA. Trailing Walmart on that list: The U.S. Department of Energy, at 110 million kWh, followed by Apple (101 million), BMW (70 million) and Coca-Cola (41 million).
“The EPA’s Green Partnership requires that organizations use of green energy comprise any combination of three different green product
Mark S. Mellman: Max support for minimum wage
One need look no further than the minimum wage to find evidence that Republicans are wildly out of touch.
A year ago, every single Republican member of the House voted against increasing the minimum wage. More recently, Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner one-upped his primary opponents by demanding a reduction in the minimum wage. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) went even further, backing complete repeal of the minimum wage.
Yet, since November alone, no fewer than eight different nonpartisan public polls by six different pollsters have demonstrated overwhelming public support for increasing the minimum wage. Though the questions have differed, support has ranged from 65 percent to 76 percent. On average, Americans favored an increase in the minimum wage by a 43-point margin.
Indeed, in each of the polls for which a partisan breakdown is available, huge majorities of independents and at least pluralities, and often majorities, of rank-and-file Republicans join nearly all Democrats in supporting a minimum wage hike.
Even groups that are not congenial to the idea have been unable to find opposition. Reason, the self-styled magazine of “free minds and free markets,” which espouses libertarian views, conducted a poll in December that found 72 percent favoring a minimum wage increase, with just 26 percent opposed. In that survey, 88 percent of Democrats joined 70 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans in supporting a higher minimum wage.
Republicans revealed some interesting divisions, however, that could help explain the solid phalanx of “noes” among GOP politicians. Sixty-three percent of Republicans who make less than $60,000 a year support raising the minimum wage, while only 35 percent of Republicans making more than $60,000 a year favor an increase. Similarly, 64 percent of young Republicans support raising the minimum wage, compared to
Bristol-Myers Squibb Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013 Financial Results
• Continues BioPharma Strategy Evolution to Specialty Care Model through Planned Sale of its Diabetes Business
• Achieved Important Regulatory Milestones for Eliquis, daclatasvir and Farxiga
• Revenues Increased 6% to $4.4 Billion in the Fourth Quarter
• GAAP EPS Decreased 21% to $0.44; Non-GAAP EPS Increased 9% to $0.51
• Company Provides 2014 GAAP EPS Guidance Range of $1.75 to $1.90; Confirms Non-GAAP EPS Guidance Range of $1.65 to $1.80
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 24, 2014-- Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) today reported results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2013. The fourth quarter was highlighted by the company’s announcement to sell its diabetes business as part of the continued evolution of its successful BioPharma strategy to a specialty care model. The company achieved important regulatory milestones in the quarter for Eliquis in the U.S., daclatasvir/asunaprevir in Japan, daclatasvir in Europe and Farxiga in the U.S. In addition, the company provided financial guidance for 2014.
“In the fourth quarter we continued to grow and evolve our business, delivering solid financial results and achieving regulatory milestones for products that are important to our long-term success,” said Lamberto Andreotti, chief executive officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We are looking forward to 2014 as an important year to advance our specialty care BioPharma model and deliver on key opportunities in immuno-oncology and hepatitis C that will position us well for long-term growth.”
Weekly Address: Making 2014 a Year of Action to Expand Opportunities for the Middle Class
The White House
The White House ·4,435 videos
Published on Jan 18, 2014
In this week's address, President Obama says 2014 will be a year of action, and called on both parties to help make this a breakthrough year for the United States by bringing back more good jobs and expanding opportunities for the middle class.
Wal-Mart Parking Lots and rooftops...
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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Friday signaled an intent to work with industry groups to develop new standards for coal-fired power plants.
Speaking from North Dakota, McCarthy said the EPA is not interested in what critics have said is a "War on Coal" by the Obama administration, aimed at pushing out coal companies to make room for renewable energy.
"Coal is in our energy mix today, and it will be for decades in the future," McCarthy said.
Focus has turned to North Dakota as of late, where the state is in the middle of an energy boom, in large part due to coal-fired power plants. McCarthy traveled there at the request of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) to see what the state's coal-fired plants are doing firsthand.
The EPA has drawn criticism from industry groups for what they say is the agency's "War on Coal." Earlier this year, the EPA proposed tougher standards that would limit carbon emissions from new power plants, which critics say will make it nearly impossible to build new plants.
The EPA also plans to come out with new standards for existing power plants in June, and many industry groups have expressed concerns that these rules could force coal-fired plants out of business.
Republicans have strongly opposed the rules and so has Heitkamp, whose state would be one of the most affected by the rules. They claim the rules would hurt coal jobs and raise energy prices ...
One bill would repeal the provision in President Obama’s healthcare law that defines a full-time worker as someone who works 30 hours a week. Republicans say the definition is causing businesses to cut employee hours and full-time workers to avoid having to provide health insurance.
@SenatorReid: SUCCESS! We’ve reached a deal with a few Senate Republicans to pass #renewUI for 5 months. Persistence pays off.
January 07, 2014, 11:08 am
Jobless benefits vote passes procedural hurdle in Senate
By Vicki Needham and Ramsey Cox
The Senate on Tuesday moved forward with a bill to extend federal unemployment benefits for three months.
In a 60-37 vote, the Senate ended debate on a motion to consider the bill. Sixty votes were required to move forward.
GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Dan Coats (Ind.) joined Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) in voting with Democrats. One Democrat, Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska), missed the vote.
Many Republicans objected to moving forward with the bill because the $6.4 billion cost of the three-month extension is not offset with spending cuts, and it's unclear whether the measure will even be taken up in the House — assuming the Senate approves it.
Two of the GOP senators who voted to move the measure forward on Tuesday implored Democrats to work with them to find an offset, and said it was far from a done deal that they would back the measure again.
Coats suggested that his "yes" vote was smart politics, by forcing Democrats to come to the table to discuss potential "pay-fors" for a measure that currently has no offsets.
If Democrats refuse and the bill goes down, Coats said, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could potentially absorb some of the blame – after Democrats had spent days slamming Republicans for turning a cold shoulder to more than one million unemployed people.
“Take it outside the politics of it – the gotcha politics – and get back to a Senate that debates policies and those changes,” Coats told reporters after the debate.
“Why end the process from even starting?" he asked. "If Harry wants to not give us an opportunity to offer amendments, to debate reforms, to accept a pay-for, then Democrats will have to answer the question.”
Portman said that he voted to proceed “so we can engage in the debate on how to pay for this and how to make the unemp
Imagine, 2025, solar panels on the roofs of most homes connected to renewable energy storage while homeowners drive EVs.
Gasoline is exceptionally expensive and a niche market while solar is FREE.
SunTrust Reports Fourth Quarter 2013 Results
Quarter Marked by Increased Earnings, Broad-Based Loan Growth, and Improved Revenue
ATLANTA -- SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI) today reported net income available to common shareholders of $413 million, or $0.77 per average common diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2013. This compares to reported earnings per average common diluted share of $0.33 in the prior quarter, which was negatively impacted by $0.33 per share due to the impact of certain legacy mortgage matters. Earnings per share increased 18% from $0.65 for the fourth quarter of last year.
For 2013, SunTrust earned $2.41 per common diluted share, compared to $3.59 per common diluted share in 2012. However, 2012 earnings were positively impacted by $1.40 per share related to actions undertaken by the Company to improve its risk profile and further strengthen its balance sheet. Excluding the $1.40 per share in 2012 and the aforementioned $0.33 per share in 2013, earnings per average common diluted share increased from $2.19 in 2012 to $2.74 in 2013, or 25%.
"Broad-based loan growth, increased revenue, and further credit quality improvement led to core earnings expansion over the prior quarter," said William H. Rogers, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SunTrust Banks, Inc. "We closed the year with 25% core annual earnings growth and substantial efficiency ratio improvement. Our focus in 2014 will remain on meeting more of our clients' needs, driving profitable growth, and further improving the efficiency of the Company."
Fourth Quarter 2013 Financial Highlights
Net income available to common shareholders was $413 million, or $0.77 per average common diluted share compared to $0.66 in the prior quarter, excluding the aforementioned $0.33 per share impact. Current quarter earnings benefited from a 22% effective tax rate.
Total revenue increased $141 million, or 7%, compared to the prior q
State Street Reports Fourth-Quarter 2013 GAAP-Basis EPS of $1.22 on Revenue of $2.46 Billion; Full-Year 2013 GAAP-Basis EPS of $4.62 on Revenue of $9.88 Billion
Fourth-Quarter Operating-Basis(1) EPS of $1.15 on Revenue of $2.53 Billion; Full-Year Operating-Basis EPS of $4.54 on Revenue of $10.05 Billion
Core Asset Servicing and Asset Management Fee Revenue Growth for Full-Year 2013, up 10% from Full-Year 2012
Continued Focus on Expense Control Results in 171 Basis Points of Positive Operating Leverage(2) for Full-Year 2013 Compared to Full-Year 2012
BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 24, 2014-- In announcing today's financial results, Joseph L. Hooley, State Street's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, "Our fourth quarter and full-year results reflect the strength of the core business and our continued focus on our key priorities to deliver value for our clients and shareholders. 2013 was a very good year for State Street despite both the ongoing headwinds created by the low rate environment and the increasing regulatory cost and complexity. Importantly, for the full year, we grew our core asset servicing and asset management fees by almost 10% compared to 2012."
Hooley added, "Our results for 2013 also demonstrated our commitment to controlling expenses which enabled us to achieve 171 basis points of positive operating leverage for full-year 2013 compared to full-year 2012. Our Business Operations and IT Transformation program continues to deliver expected improved efficiencies and enhanced client solutions."
Hooley concluded, "We purchased approximately 8.0 million shares of our common stock during the fourth quarter, and 24.7 million shares since April 1, 2013, under our current $2.1 billion common stock purchase program effective through March 2014. We recently submitted our 2014 capital plan to the Federal Reserve, and the return of capital through dividends and common stock repurchases remains a key priority."
January 8, 2014
Record-High 42% of Americans Identify as Independents
Republican identification lowest in at least 25 years
by Jeffrey M. Jones
PRINCETON, NJ -- Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago. Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.
Party Identification, Yearly Averages, 1988-2013
The results are based on more than 18,000 interviews with Americans from 13 separate Gallup multiple-day polls conducted in 2013.
In each of the last three years, at least 40% of Americans have identified as independents. These are also the only years in Gallup's records that the percentage of independents has reached that level.
Americans' increasing shift to independent status has come more at the expense of the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Republican identification peaked at 34% in 2004, the year George W. Bush won a second term in office. Since then, it has fallen nine percentage points, with most of that decline coming during Bush's troubled second term. When he left office, Republican identification was down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans "shellacked" Democrats in the midterm elections.
Not since 1983, when Gallup was still conducting interviews face to face, has a lower percentage of Americans, 24%, identified as Republicans than is the case now. That year, President Ronald Reagan remained unpopular as the economy struggled to emerge from recession. By the following year, amid an improving economy and re-election for the increasingly popular incumbent president, Republican identification jumped to 30%, a level generally maintained until 2007.
Democratic identification has
House Republicans Opposed To Extended Unemployment Benefits Could Pay The Price In 2014: Poll
The Huffington Post | By Ashley Alman
Posted: 12/23/2013 12:55 am EST | Updated: 12/23/2013 8:44 am EST
An overwhelming majority of voters are opposed to cutting off extended jobless benefits for the unemployed, a poll revealed on Monday.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling surveyed voters in four key congressional districts, as well as House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) district, to gauge support for extending unemployment benefits. The poll, funded by the liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, showed that voters across party lines were overwhelmingly in favor of extending the benefits, with 63 to 68 percent of voters in each district expressing support for preserving jobless benefits.
Voters in the four districts surveyed said they were less likely to vote for the Republican incumbent in 2014 -- by at least a 9-point margin -- were he to vote to cut off extended unemployment benefits.
Though jobless benefits are set to expire on Dec. 28 for 1.3 million longterm unemployed Americans, members of the House and Senate have returned home for the holidays without a solution to preserve those benefits. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said it was an "immorality" that the benefits weren't secured in a recent budget deal, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised to bring the extension to a vote no later than Jan. 7, 2014.
Moderate Republicans urged Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to rescue jobless benefits for the longterm unemployed earlier in December, saying the issue was "important to many American families." But Boehner would only consider the proposal if cuts were made elsewhere and job growth guaranteed, and the measure ultimately did not make it into Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget deal.
"Speaker Boehner and fellow Washington Republicans are
January 07, 2014, 01:55 pm
White House: 'Be safe' during polar vortex
By Justin Sink
The White House said Tuesday that President Obama was "certainly aware of the dramatic weather" gripping most of the nation, while reporting that so far there had been no requests for federal emergency assistance.
A so-called "polar vortex" has much of the Midwest and Northeast fighting sub-zero temperatures this week, with schools and businesses closed across the country. Record lows have crippled travel, closing highways and rail networks and leading to hundreds of flight cancellations.
White House press secretary Jay Carney urged Americans to "be safe and follow directions from local officials."
"If local officials say 'stay off the roads,' avoid travel unless it's an emergency. Depending on the state, depending on the region, local officials have the best insight when it comes to what's the right thing and the safe thing to do," Carney said.
He also said the White House was confident that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would "be on top of it" if an "issue that requires federal assistance" arises.
The president himself acknowledged the chilly temperatures — which fell to single digits in the nation's capital — at an event promoting unemployment insurance on Tuesday, telling attendees he hoped they were "keeping warm."