Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Economics

Once again, why fossil fuels are on the wrong side of history

Jim Cramer writes: Tesla plus 80, Exxon Mobil minus a dollar and a half. On a huge up day, doesn’t that say it all? I’ve gotten a lot of blowback about my stand on fossil fuels. It’s been roundly criticized by many even as so many others are grateful for my new stand. The funny thing is that the stance itself is often poorly described by others so let’s unpack

The climate crisis is reshaping the world of finance

Bill McKibben, Alec Connon and Elana Sulakshana write: Historians should mark the date. On Jan 14, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $7.4 trillion under management, announced that the climate crisis has now grown so severe that it has become a force that will “fundamentally reshape” the world of finance. In his annual letter to CEOs, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock and one of the most powerful

Inequality makes climate crisis much harder to tackle

Larry Elliot writes: Almost 15 years ago, Nick Stern, then head of the Government Economic Service, produced a report on the economics of climate change in which he called the failure to deal with a heating planet the greatest market failure of all time, and argued that the benefits of early action outweighed the costs. Last week, Professor Stern, now chair of both the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics

Venture capital shaped the past decade. It could destroy the next

Nathan Heller writes: For a certain sort of nineteenth-century person—the sort with high risk tolerance and little revulsion to brutality—a natural career lay in whaling. The odds of success here were, by almost every measure, poor. An expedition first needed to find whales in the vastness of the oceans. If it succeeded, it had to approach the whales in silence, with a small craft; strike with a harpoon; stay afloat,

The nightmare economy created by Silicon Valley’s overlords

Lia Russell writes: Vanessa Bain was less than a year into her gig as an Instacart shopper when the company announced it would no longer allow tipping on its app. Instacart instead began imposing a 10 percent “service fee” that replaced the previous default tip of 10 percent. The change had no impact on customers, who could be forgiven for assuming that the new fee would still go to the

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink: Climate crisis will reshape finance

The New York Times reports: Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers

Want to do something about climate change? Follow the money

Lennox Yearwood Jr. and Bill McKibben write: If you asked us why a dozen people sat on the floor next to the A.T.M. in a Chase Bank branch on Friday, waiting for the police to arrest us for this small act of civil disobedience, we would come up with the same answer as the famous robber Willie Sutton: “Because that’s where the money is.” We don’t want to empty the

At Davos we will tell world leaders to abandon the fossil fuel economy

Greta Thunberg and others write: We have just entered a new decade, a decade where every month and every day will be absolutely crucial in deciding what the future will look like. Towards the end of January, chief executives, investors and policymakers will gather in Davos for the 50th anniversary of the World Economic Forum. Young climate activists and school strikers from around the world will be present to put

Economists greatly underestimate the price tag on climate change

Naomi Oreskes and Nicholas Stern write: For some time now it has been clear that the effects of climate change are appearing faster than scientists anticipated. Now it turns out that there is another form of underestimation as bad or worse than the scientific one: the underestimating by economists of the costs. The result of this failure by economists is that world leaders understand neither the magnitude of the risks

China overtakes U.S. in rankings of world’s richest people

The Guardian reports: The number of wealthy Chinese people has overtaken the number of rich Americans for the first time, according to a report by Credit Suisse. The Swiss bank’s annual wealth survey found there were 100m Chinese people among the world’s top 10% of richest people, compared with 99m in the United States. The report says the “rapid transformation of China from an emerging nation in transition to a

World economy is sleepwalking into a new financial crisis, warns former chief of Bank of England

The Guardian reports: The world is sleepwalking towards a fresh economic and financial crisis that will have devastating consequences for the democratic market system, according to the former Bank of England governor Mervyn King. Lord King, who was in charge at Threadneedle Street during the near-death of the global banking system and deep economic slump a decade ago, said the resistance to new thinking meant a repeat of the chaos

In the U.S., workers are now paying a higher tax rate than investors and owners

Christopher Ingraham writes: Most Americans have to work to earn a living. But the rich are different: They get most of their income not from labor but from what they own — companies, stocks, real estate and the like. These income-generating assets are what economists call capital. And because capital is heavily concentrated among the rich, the U.S. government taxed earnings derived from capital at a higher rate than earnings

Leading investment banks pump billions into fossil fuel industry

The Guardian reports: The world’s largest investment banks have provided more than $700bn of financing for the fossil fuel companies most aggressively expanding in new coal, oil and gas projects since the Paris climate change agreement, figures show. The financing has been led by the Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase, which has provided $75bn (£61bn) to companies expanding in sectors such as fracking and Arctic oil and gas exploration, according

Companies ignoring climate crisis will go bankrupt, Bank of England governor warns

The Guardian reports: Companies and industries that are not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will be punished by investors and go bankrupt, the governor of the Bank of England has warned. Mark Carney also told the Guardian it was possible that the global transition needed to tackle the climate crisis could result in an abrupt financial collapse. He said the longer action to reverse emissions was delayed, the more the risk

Income inequality in America is the highest it’s been since census started tracking it, data shows

The Washington Post reports: Last year, income inequality in the United States reached its highest level since the Census Bureau started tracking it in 1967, according to federal data released Thursday. In the midst of the longest economic expansion the United States has ever seen, with poverty and unemployment rates at historic lows, the separation between rich and poor from 2017 and 2018 was greater than it has ever been,

Farming subsidies — $1 million a minute — are destroying the world, says report

The Guardian reports: The public is providing more than $1m per minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is driving the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife, according to a new report. Just 1% of the $700bn (£560bn) a year given to farmers is used to benefit the environment, the analysis found. Much of the total instead promotes high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of