Tuesday, July 28, 2009

STOCK MARKET REVIEW June/July 2009: Making Sense of All the Economic Data

The recovery is being obscured by a daily barrage of mixed reports and conflicting analysis. To provide context for my next post on sustainable investing and to help illustrate the lingering disagreement between the bulls and the bears I have published excerpts of The Green Market's bi-monthly review of the three major stock indices (Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq, and the S&P 500) for the period between June 1, 2009 and July 28, 2009.

Some investors are concerned about inflation and higher interest rates. Many are worried that the economy could remain weak for some time.

Most investors seem to be preoccupied with the steady stream of reports coming from authoritative institutions like the Federal Reserve, the Labor Department, the Central Bank, the Commerce Department and The World Bank. But energy futures and new home sales need to be understood alongside stats like unemployment and foreclosures. Jobless claims need to be factored alongside GDP and pending home sales alongside manufacturing data.

An individual piece of data is insufficient in isolation, it needs to be interpreted in context, for example, consumer data must be appreciated as part of an aggregate that includes spending, confidence, income, savings etc.

The effect of economic data is illustrated in the performance of the stock market over the last two months. June began well on the heels of a rally that started in March, however investor hopes were dashed on Wednesday June 3 as stocks retreated due to troubling reports.

Stocks did well on Thursday June 4 with energy, financial and tech shares pushing the market higher and reports indicating declines in the number of individuals seeking unemployment benefits. RBC Capital Markets stated that the worst of the financial crisis is over.

Perhaps most curiously, with the exception of surges on all four Thursdays in June (4, 11, 18, and 25) Wall Street posted mixed results for the entire month.

Early in July it became clear that mixed economic data was dictating the erratic movements of the markets. From July 2 to July 10 a series of reports including job reports, loan delinquencies, and one from the IMF, sent stocks straight back to negative territory.

The consumer confidence report showed an unexpected decline in June and MarketWatch called it an “outright slump in consumer confidence." The markets were up and down all week. On July 3, the last trading day before Independence Day holiday, the much anticipated job report caused the Dow to fall over 200 points and over the course of the week, the Dow finished down 147 points, and the Nasdaq lost 41.

Pre-fourth of July employment numbers continued to reverberate around the markets and between July 6-10, stocks continued to decline for the fourth consecutive week.

On July 13 stocks were up as financial shares boosted the market. The Dow added over 180 points to finish at 8,325 on some good earnings numbers. Wall Street was flat on July 14 but on July 15, stocks surged with the Dow adding an impressive 256 points before ending the day at 8,616. Strong earnings and a positive report from Intel sent stocks soaring during morning trading. Another report showed that industrial companies cut production far less in June than they had in previous months. The Fed also indicated that they now expect that the economy will slide at a slower pace than they had previously forecasted. On July 16 stocks continued to rally, Asian and European markets also ended the day higher.

On July 17, Wall Street went slightly higher adding to the gains for the rest of the week. Construction of new homes and apartments jumped 3.6 percent to the highest level in seven months. Builder permits also rose to 582,000 in June from a revised rate of 562,000. However these positive housing numbers were tempered by mixed earnings numbers.


On July 20 investors continued the previous week's rally on news that the index of leading economic indicators rose 0.7% in June when analysts were only expecting an increase of 0.5%. On July 21 better-than-expected earnings and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke continued Wall Street’s positive start to the week as all three major indices ended higher.

On Thursday, July 23 positive earnings results from Google and IBM helped spur the market then on July 24 the Nasdaq declined following some disappointing earnings reports and weak consumer confidence numbers. Although corporate America has done a good job cutting costs, surface reads of earnings reports may be contributing to the rally. For the week of July 20-24 all the major indices posted gains.. However, investors traded with caution in anticipation of the looming stock market "summer slowdown."

On Monday July 27, Wall Street continued its streak from last week, posting significant weekly gains for all three major indices. On Thursday, the Dow Jones closed above 9,000 for the first time since January. For the week the Dow had gained almost 350 points and the Nasdaq gained almost 80.

As has been evident of late, investors continue to pay close attention to the most recent economic and earnings reports

On Tuesday and Wednesday (July 28 and 29) two consecutive reports helped to drag stocks down. First investors recoiled in response to a report on consumer confidence then a disappointing durable goods orders report dragged stocks down further even thought the Fed's beige book, showed signs of an economic recovery. Then on Thursday July 30, good earnings numbers and decent economic data turned stocks around after 2 days of losses. The Dow increased to almost 9,200 for the first time since November.

We can anticipate more mixed results and although consumer confidence remains a concern we have ample evidence to believe that the market has reached a turning point and recovery is within view.

In April the stock market had its best month in nine years and the rally that started in March saw the market grow 40%. In the third week of July the Dow and Nasdaq were up a record 11%. Overall, July was one of the best months in years. The Dow added 17 points and is approaching the 9,200 mark and the S&P will likely hit 1,000 very soon.

Even though the $787 billion stimulus package has yet to impact the GDP, we have seen a positive report that indicates a much slower GDP decline. June home sales are at their highest levels for the year and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is now on the road talking about the recovery.

Investors remain cautious, perhaps this is because--as some are suggesting--we are perched on the surface of another rapidly inflating bubble or perhaps investors cannot see the forest through the trees as they try to assimilate the conflicting array of daily reports.

This is the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. As a consequence, the economic data is unavoidably mixed and this is driving the mixed market performances. But eventually investors will realize that despite the near-collapse of the financial system the economy is performing fairly well.

With poor memories and very short time horizons it should come as no surprise that investors remain nervous. However, we would all do well to remember that every crisis has a beginning, middle, and end.
__________________________________________

Next: Investing for a Sustainable Recovery / Solar Stock Review

Related Articles:
Time to Invest in Green
Sustainable Recovery
Recession, Recovery and Renewables
Helping Small Business Accept US Cap-and-Trade
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Solar Stock: Recovery and Comparative Market Performance
Solar is Under-Performing Markets at Pivotal Rally Points
Solar Sector Analysis
Solar Stock Review: Cost vs Efficiency
Solar Stock Picks: Timing
Energy Efficiency Stock Review: The (Smart) Grid
US Government Spending and Energy Efficiency Stock
Wind Stock Review
Lighting Stock Review
Solar Stock Review
Geothermal Stock Picks
Wind Stock
SunPower News: Share Offering and Convertible Debentures
Market Reaction to Obama's Stimulus
Solar Update: Ongoing Volatility

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sustainable Recovery

Despite the dower warnings of the fear mongering ultra-bears we are facing undeniable evidence of recovery. As reviewed by The Green Market on March 9, China provided some early evidence of economic recovery. More recently, China announced that it is on track to see 8 percent growth in 2009 and when coupled with positive US housing and manufacturing data, we have reason to be optimistic.

Although this recession has been severe, people like David Kelly, Chief Market Strategist for JP Morgan Funds is predicting five consecutive years of better than average US GDP growth.
In a Barrons.com interview last month, Kelly indicates that falling housing, autos, and inventories are all signs that we have hit bottom. Although we have seen very big declines in global production, they are not as large as the decline in consumption. "That normally sets you up for some kind of economic rebound. At worst, we will see much smaller declines in output in the second quarter than in the first. In some countries, we will see some positive numbers."

As though to prove this point, last week the Bank of Canada declared that the recession was over and as mentioned above, China is outperforming even optimisitic expectations with 8 percent growth.

Although unemployment has yet to peak in the US, according to Kelly, when it does start to come down we normally see above-average economic growth. "During the past 40 years, the average growth rate of the US economy has been about 3%. But if unemployment comes down by, say, one percentage point per year, you get 4% GDP growth." Kelly says. "Hard as it is to imagine today, once this economy begins to expand, it probably will expand at a faster-than-average pace."

As reviewed by The Green Market on March 13, international cooperation is helping to drive the recovery. Beijing and Washington are working more closely together but other world leaders are also cooperating to achieve tangible results. The G20 effect is a term that refers to the stock market rally after world leaders reached a $1.1 trillion deal to tackle the global economic crisis. In April, London’s FTSE 100 index closed up 4.3%, Germany’s Dax index gained 6.1% while France’s Cac 40 rose 5.4%. In New York, the Dow Jones rose 2.8%, or 216.5 points, to 7978 points and (as of now is back over 9000). Earlier, shares in Asia closed higher. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 4.4% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 7%. The so-called G20 effect is the result of unparalleled cooperation between world leaders

According to Tony Machacek, an oil broker at Bache Commodities in London, the G20 effect helped push oil prices up 10 percent to over $50 a barrel. Renewable energy investment is more attractive now that oil has risen to just below $70 a barrel ($68.60).

Earlier this month Russell Gold wrote an article in which he indicated that renewable energy projects are again finding funding in Europe. Although renewable energy financing remains frozen in the US, Gold believes that, "there is reason to believe the US situation is better than the numbers indicate."

Ethan Zindler, head of North American research at New Energy Finance, says he expects deals are simply waiting for the US Treasury Department to finally issue rules on its grant program and for the Energy Department to detail its loan guarantee program. “The market is on hold until these rules come out,” he says.

This means we can expect a great deal of renewable energy activity in the third quarter. "Overall, money is flowing back into renewables. Globally, investment in clean energy hit $24.3 billion, down 33% from a year earlier, but up 83% from the frozen-solid first quarter," Zindler said.

As Alan Durning said ten years ago, “For every declining industry...there is an emerging one to take up the slack...A sustainable economy could be full of opportunity, and not only in these overtly green sectors.” Despite the premature condemnations of Green jobs, Durning's idea is now part of the official conversation in state capitals all around the world.

Sustainability is an important part of the solution to the economic and environmental problems we face. There have always be 'ultra-bears' who cannot conceive of anything but doom, but thankfully there are others who see Green solutions to our seemingly intractable difficulties.

Even to the most pessimistic commentator it is increasingly obvious that the world's economies have changed and are changing further still. Driven by greater international cooperation, sustainability is at the core of this shift in economic direction and it is also an impetus for recovery. The economy is showing clear signs of rebounding and the spotlight is fading on the dancing bears.

______________________________________________

Next: Market Review (June & July) / Investing for a Sustainable Recovery / Solar Stock Review


Related Articles:
Businesses Must Cooperate for Climate Change Solutions
China's Green Stimulus, US/China Cooperation and Recovery
China-US Cooperation: The Way to Recovery
Recession, Recovery and Renewables
Helping Small Business Accept US Cap-and-Trade
United Nations Climate Change Conference
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The Obama Effect (Obama Stock)
Green Stimulus: Global Green New Deal
Green Stimulus and Free Markets
A New Energy Economy
US Government Spending and Energy Efficiency Stock
The Heartbeat of America in Cardiac Arrest
G20 Lays the Foundation for a Better World
G20 Protestors Dilute Green Message
G8's More Aggressive GHG Targets
IMF Reforms

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Free Content Sustainable?

Tens of millions of people are taking advantage of free content. The proliferation of the digital universe is making advertising cheaper and providing a range of free information, products and services. Just this morning my inbox yielded offers for free articles, mobile applications, e-books, and a website promotion.

However, free content is not always heralded as a good thing. As has been widely reported many online publishers and journalists are questioning the merits of free content.

The availability of free online content is killing the traditional print media industry and while they are being demonetized they are struggling to find the right balance between free and paid content.

According to Tony Silber, "all the Web ‘visionaries' who say content needs to be free are wrong. It's clear that the business model of charging for your print product and posting all your content online for free makes no sense. It won't sustain. Every journalist should be concerned...But the more I think about it, the more I conclude the Web sites that rely for their traffic on the reporting of others are parasites. They rely on a host body for sustenance and, in doing so, they harm the host. To the point, as in the case of the newspaper industry, that the host dies."

Although I rue the loss of investigative journalism and foreign correspondents, I cannot rue the death of a medium that is as tremendously wasteful as print media. Mr Silber does not seem to acknowledge that free content is here to stay, nor does he understand that parasites do not usually harm let alone kill thier hosts.

We would do well to remember that a truly sustainable business relationship is symbiotic. However to be sustainable a business must also be profitable. This leads venture capitalist and others to ask a valid question, "where's the money?"

With the rise of free content many businesses are struggling to find ways to monetize online offerings. Although Socially responsible endeavours have value in themselves, free content cultivates dedicated readers that often affords unanticipated opportunities.

Online marketers are still grappling with the fact that profits are not only supported by purchasing portals. While there is a wide assortment of revenue based advertising, broader brand building initiatives are often overlooked. At present free content may be a loss leader but it builds brands in ways that traditional online marketing often neglects.

With the proliferation of social media, marketers are beginning to understand that readers value content more than ads. Sharing free content with interested readers may not provide an immediate quantifiable return, but such efforts raise awareness about your industry and are powerful and credible brand builders.

Maybe we should not be so quick to criticize free content. Those who provide free content pay with their time and the return is the kind of brand integrity that cannot be bought. Although it is not easy to calculate the ROI on free content, there is as yet unmined value in the millions of people seeking it.

The choice is not between free and paid content, it is likely that we will continue to see a combination of free content that will include optional paid opt-ins. This business model focuses on upselling a small percentage of readers.

Given the number of companies having difficulty trying to transpose old revenue models onto the Web, perhaps it is time to consider new paradigms.

Presently there are several ways to monetize free content, but no one can predict the precise configuration of tomorrow's revenue models. Although many businesses have yet to find the right balance, building an audience with free content is a good position from which to explore the options.


Related Articles:
Print Newspapers and the Growth of Digital Marketing
The New Normal and Sustainability
Social Media and Sustainability
Digital Marketing for the Young and Not so Young
Digital Marketing Will Thrive in a Downturn
Digital Marketing: Making the Most of Your Marketing in a Downturn
The Growth of Digital Marketing
The Green Market's Series on Mobile Marketing

Monday, July 20, 2009

The New Normal and Implications for Business

The 90s seemed to venerate vision, exit strategies and marketing communications, but the New Normal is changing this and businesses that want to survive need to understand the implications.

More than one year ago visionary investor Roger McNamee reviewed the ways in which the New Normal differs from previous business cycles. Before the recession and the onset of the New Normal, the business world was enthralled with the belief that "the Internet changes everything" said McNamee, and, "people used it as license to defer profitability."

This Internet fixation encouraged business people to favour growth over due diligence, market share over leadership.

In contrast, the New Normal is about creating real value and reflects the understanding that although technology is woven into the social fabric, it is only one --albeit important-- facet of multi-dimensional success factors. The New Normal also returns us to more rational timelines. "Internet time measured everything in days or weeks. New Normal time is measured in years."

In the New Normal everything takes longer, the era of fast money is over. Although capital is more expensive, the market now favours those with strong business plans that can produce tangible near term results. "the big shift is from a focus on growing market capitalization to a focus on creating real economic value."

Businesses still have a long way to go to adjust to the New Normal. The first steps involve carefully reviewing cost structure, leadership and long term strategies. It takes a lot to be successful in the New Normal because businesses not only need a great product or service, detailed planning and strategies, and a team that can deliver they also need to have paying customers.

One of the major challenges associated with the New Normal is that there is no single strategy companies can employ to adjust. Effective leadership will come from a combination of flexibility and responsiveness.

The demands of the New Normal make today's economy harder for business, so it should be expected that there will be many who will not be able to stay afloat. Businesses should focus on their core strengths because those that are too diversified are not going to perform as well. Further, those businesses that have effective strategies will be much more likely to prosper than those who simply look good on paper.

The New Normal is forcing businesses to become more efficient and better oriented for the long term. Businesses need to be more practical and more realistic because in the final analysis the New Normal is about "real life and real time," this translates to tangible results from strategies that create real value.

Through a process akin to Darwinian evolution, businesses that are built on unsound foundations are succumbing to the New Normal. However the New Normal should not be viewed with contempt, it is actually helping to create a more rational and sustainable economy better positioned to meet the demands of a changing world.

The New Normal represents a momentous leap in the evolution of business. Those businesses that adapt to the new normal will be competitive while those who do not are threatened with extinction. The implications for business are obvious, get real or die.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The New Normal and Sustainability

Americans are adjusting to the new economic reality of higher unemployment and lower incomes and this is helping to drive sustainability.

In a recent article entitled "Americans Adapt to the New Normal" Alice Gomstyn reports that Americans are doing far more than simply reducing unecessary expenditures. Americans are making due with what they have, bargain hunting, using less energy and being more efficient. Americans are also paying off credit card purchases so they don't carry balances or accrue interest charges.

People and businesses accross the socio-economic spectrum are trying to find ways to adapt to the new economic reality. Many in the small business community are restructuring their bank commitments and some have adopted extreme measures like not taking a paycheck and selling their products at a loss.

According to a recent Time Magazine article, 27 percent of Americans are using their retirement or college savings to pay the bills, 34 percent of Americans earning less than $50,000 a year have not gone to the doctor because of the cost, 31 percent have been out of work at some point, and 13 percent have been hungry.

There is also evidence that this recession is impacting more affluent buying behaviors, 4 in 10 Americans earning more than $100,000 a year say they are buying more discount brands, 36 percent are using more coupons, and 39 percent have postponed or canceled a vacation to save money.

In one way or another this recession is affecting everyone, 40 percent of people at all income levels say they feel anxious, 32 percent have trouble sleeping, and 20 percent are depressed.

The change in consumer behaviour is not limited to this recession, 61 percent claim that even after the economy recovers they will continue to spend less than they did before. Americans are changing their priorities and their spending patterns.

Rob Watson, Executive Editor at GreenerBuildings.com suggests the "New Normal is actually saving for a rainy day and living within our means. New Normal is people get paid for actually producing something rather than using financial sleight of hand that mostly involves the complicated repackaging of overvalued or over-leveraged assets."

According to Watson, the New Normal is nothing short of "a re-definition of wealth that emphasizes satisfaction of simple basic desires over the accumulation of cheap stuff...an economy and a built environment that operates off of the flows of the planet, rather than its accumulated stocks. New Normal is when tapping into those flows is inherently less expensive than chewing our way through dwindling stocks." and he concludes "If this newfound prudence sticks, it will be a great thing for this country."

Motivated by the need to save money, people are becoming more efficient in their usage of everything from laundry detergent to fuel. Consumers are more careful about their purchases and less willing to buy what can be had for free. In the US bottled-water sales have dropped 10 percent and the Los Angeles public library system has recently set record highs in circulation and visitors. America is changing and as the old consumer values give way to more efficient ones, we are experiencing a paradigm shift as the new culture is emerging.

"A consumer culture invites us to want more than we can ever have; a culture of thrift invites us to be grateful for whatever we can get... this season will be remembered for what we lost, or all that we found."

This historic economic downturn has helped to auger a paradigm shift and create the necessary conditions for the emergence of a new culture. Only a crisis of the magnitude of this recession could have produced the kinds of changes we are seeing today.

America is becoming more frugal and reducing costs through greater efficiency. As a result a more sustainable culture is taking the place of the traditional model based on consumption.


Next: The New Normal and Implications for Business

Related Articles
The New Normal
US Cap-and-Trade: Positioning Your Business
Creative Capitalism: Market-Based Social Change
Consumer Demand for Green
The Heartbeat of America in Cardiac Arrest
Businesses Must Cooperate for Climate Change Solutions
US Government Spending and Energy Efficiency Stock
Green Stimulus Part 1: Rewarding Efficiency
Investing in CleanTech: Efficiency Upgrades and Renewable Energy
Time to Invest in Green
A New Energy Economy: Obama's Gift to America and the World
Environmental Assessment of President Obama's First 100 Days
Alternative Energy Investments Under Obama
Post Inaugurial Green Market Report

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The New Normal

There has been a great deal of talk about the "New Normal," in this post we will review some of the meanings associated with the expression.

Before we define the New Normal we should understand the period that preceded it. In the pre-recession period, it was normal for the US economy to grow 3 percent per year and the stock market to average about 6 percentage points better than inflation.
In stark contrast the New Normal entails slower growth, higher unemployment and greater government involvement.

The New Normal is a term most recently popularized by PIMCO's Mohammed El-Erian. According to El-Erian's book, "When Markets Collide," we are likely to see slower growth in the West and faster growth for developing nations.

El-Erian predicts slower global growth due to the obsolescence of our economies, regulation, taxation, nationalization and legislation. He also predicts subdued investment activity and the erosion of endogenous credit.

But El-Erian is not the only person to make use of this term, at the end of 2007, Fast Company senior editor Polly LaBarre interviewed visionary investor Roger McNamee who reviewed his conception of the New Normal.

The New Normal represents a departure from the principles of the past decade. "Everything takes longer in the New Normal," says McNamee. "it requires a different frame of reference. ...Patience will once again be a virtue of great consequence."

"In the New Normal, the trick is to get real about the new set of challenges we face and what it takes to win in an environment where there are no shortcuts...and if you're willing to be a little different from everyone else, there are countless opportunities worth pursuing."

As we will explore in the next post, elements of the New Normal are driving sustainablity and in a forthcoming post we will examine the implications for businesses. Consumers are changing, and to be competitive businesses must change along with them.

Some businesses will not be able to transition from the hothouse environment of the pre-recession boom to the cold economic reality of today. But those businesses that can take root will have a good chance of surviving.


Next: The New Normal and Sustainability / The New Normal and Implications for Business

Related Articles
Consumer Demand for Green
The Heartbeat of America in Cardiac Arrest
Businesses Must Cooperate for Climate Change Solutions
US Government Spending and Energy Efficiency Stock
Green Stimulus Part 1: Rewarding Efficiency
Investing in CleanTech: Efficiency Upgrades and Renewable Energy
Time to Invest in Green
A New Energy Economy: Obama's Gift to America and the World
Environmental Assessment of President Obama's First 100 Days
Alternative Energy Investments Under Obama
Post Inaugurial Green Market Report

Friday, July 10, 2009

G8's More Aggressive GHG Targets

During their annual summit this week the leaders of the G8 agreed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

The leaders also outlined continuing efforts to restart economic growth and international trade. Once again indicating that there is a powerful relationship between the economy and efforts to combat climate change.

The agreement announced this week is believed to be a direct result of US president Barack Obama's involvement. His view on global warming is in stark contrast to his Republican predecessor's position and is consistent with the rest of the G8.

According to a July 9, 2009 ENN press release, the G8 recognized the “broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2˚C.”
Climate negotiators have recently acknowledged that half of global warming is caused by CO2 and the other half by non-CO2 emissions. So alongside reductions in CO2, G8 leaders also made a commitment to taking action to reduce other GHGs including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), methane, tropospheric ozone (ground level smog), perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and black carbon soot.

The Montreal Protocol is scheduled to open next week in Geneva. It focuses on regulating substances that deplete the ozone layer and is one of the first international environmental agreements that includes trade sanctions and major incentives.

It is hoped that a deal can be reached before the Montreal Protocol concludes in Egypt the first week of November. Congressmen Waxman and Markey, and Senators Boxer and Kerry sent a letter to President Obama asking the Administration to support amending the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs. The Waxman-Markey climate bill that recently passed the House would phase down HFCs under a separate title.

Although environmental groups decry the lack of short-term targets, the agreement between the leaders of the G8 paves the way for a binding global agreement to cut GHG emissions at the UN conference in Copenhagen (COP 15) later this year.


Related Articles
COP 15: Positioning Your Business
COP 15 Implications for Business
COP 15 Timetable
G20 Lays the Foundation for a Better World
G20 Protestors Dilute Green Message
Businesses Must Cooperate for Climate Change Solutions
Primer on CO2 and other GHGs
The Effects of Global Warming
Green Stimulus and Opposition
What is Wrong with the Right
Action on Climate Change
Helping Small Businesses Accept US Cap-and-Trade
Cap-and-Trade Implications for Business
Small Business Can Save Cap-and-Trade Legislation
Small Business' Silence on US Cap-and-trade Legislation
US Cap-and-Trade: Business
US Cap-and-Trade: What and Why
US Cap-and-Trade Solutions
US Green Legislation
Environmental Politics
Market Based Social Change
Green Capitalism
Green Blueprint

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Consumer Demand for Green

Green is increasingly part of almost every survey measuring consumer interests and/or buying behaviour. A well informed public is asking businesses to make more responsible choices and rewarding those that do with their patronage. In response businesses of all sizes are finding ways to make their operations more sustainable and environmentally responsible.

A recent article written by Dr. David Suzuki and Dr. Faisal Moola indicates that, "protecting our planet is no longer seen as a fringe activity. Most people now consider themselves to be environmentally aware and are taking steps to help. Caring for the environment has become mainstream – it’s the “new normal. Businesses respond to consumer demand, and the right demands can result in real benefits for the environment."

With the help of the David Suszuki Foundation, the Overwaitea Food Group has adopted a program that emphasizes sustainable seafood. Overwaitea president, Steve van der Lees said, "doing the right thing always pays off.”

As Kathleen McLaughlin writes, in an article entitled "Consumers Want Green Furniture Options, "environmentally friendly has transcended from a buzzword to a multi-million dollar revenue generator spanning many industries."

A "2008 Green Marketing Consumer Study," sponsored by the Sustainable Furnishing Council, indicates that appoximately half of respondents are "very interested in global warming and have started doing what they can, with the No. 1 action being to buy green products in a variety of categories."

According to another report, a majority of respondents indicated that businesses should reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report also indicated that people are more likely to purchase products bearing a seal that proves corporate sustainability commitments.

Earlier this year Joel Makower wrote an article in which he reviewed the marketing data on Green and discovered that the vast majority of consumers say they have adopted, "greener habits in their daily lives, and shop for at least some products with a keen eye on their environmental provenance and energy and climate impacts. In other words: the marketplace is getting greener -- way greener.."

Consumers do not appear to be deterred by the current state of the economy. One study quoted by Makeover indicates that 82 percent of Americans say they're still buying green products despite changes in the economy.

Consumers have expressed real interest in making Greener purchases in everything from seafood to furniture and the business community is responding to this ever increasing consumer demand.

Business owners simply cannot afford to ignore consumers because if they fail to respond to consumer demand for Green, others will seize the opportunity.


Related Articles
The Future is Green
Green's Coming of Age
People Remain Loyal to Green Even in an Economic Downturn
Green Drivers
The Greening of Cyberspace
Carrotmobs: Adding Incentives to the Consumer Arsenal
Green's Bottom Line: Staying Competitive in Volatile Economic Times
Efficiency and Auto Industry Bailouts
Financing the American Auto Industry
Green Stimulus and Free Markets
Creating a Sustainable Future
An Open Model of Innovation

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Business of Climate Change Deception

How is it that despite the wealth of scientific evidence some continue to question the facts about climate change?

Although many businesses support efforts to educate the public about the dangers of increasing levels of C02, others are investing in campaigns that breed subterfuge and manipulate the debate.

One of the biggest sources of misinformation funding comes from Exxon Mobile, the world's largest publicly listed corporation. Exxon Mobile is also one of the world's biggest polluters, a study from the Friends of the Earth found that Exxon Mobile is responsible for 5% of all man-made carbon dioxide emitted over the past 120 years.

Although Exxon Mobile made a pledge to stop funding lies, a Guardian article reports that the oil giant has continued to provide money to lobby groups that publish "misleading and inaccurate information'" about climate change.

In 2008 Exxon Mobile provided over $100,000 to the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) in Dallas, Texas and the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC.

On its website, the NCPA says: "NCPA scholars believe that while the causes and consequences of the earth's current warming trend is [sic] still unknown, the cost of actions to substantially reduce CO2 emissions would be quite high and result in economic decline, accelerated environmental destruction, and do little or nothing to prevent global warming regardless of its cause."

The Heritage Foundation published a "web memo" that says: "Growing scientific evidence casts doubt on whether global warming constitutes a threat."

Many businesses large and small see the value of incorporating sustainability into their practices. While others are still trying to protect their margins by manipulating public awareness to avoid climate change legislation.

Exxon Mobile may be the worlds largest oil company and one of the largest corporations in the world, but in terms of the environment, it is also amongst the most irresponsible firms on the planet.

Shareholders should not confuse sustained campaigns of deceit with sustainability. In a near term future such businesses may be subject to legislation, but they will also be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.


Related Articles:
Green Dissent (Part 1)
Green Dissent (Part 2)
Primer on CO2 and other GHGs
CO2 Myths and the Science of Climate Change
The Effects of Global Warming
Green Science
Green Stimulus and Opposition
What is Wrong with the Right
Action on Climate Change
Helping Small Businesses Accept US Cap-and-Trade
Cap-and-Trade Implications for Business
Small Business Can Save Cap-and-Trade Legislation
Small Business' Silence on US Cap-and-trade Legislation
US Cap-and-Trade: Business
US Cap-and-Trade: What and Why
US Cap-and-Trade: Solutions
COP 15 Implications for Business
COP 15 Timetable
US Green Legislation
Environmental Politics
Market Based Social Change
Green Capitalism
Green Blueprint

Friday, July 3, 2009

America's Most Sustainable Businesses

Fourth of July festivities may be toned down this year, but America still has reason to celebrate. According to the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations for 2009 America has more sustainable companies than any other nation on earth..

The G100 includes companies from 15 countries encompassing all sectors. They were evaluated according to how effectively they managed environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities relative to their industry peers. The results were determined by Corporate Knights Inc., and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, their evaluation revealed that over the last year the US has jumped from second to first place and for the first time America has more companies in the top 100 than Germany and France combined.

From consumer goods to utilities here is a list of the twenty most sustainable businesses in America

Advanced Micro Devices
Information Technology

Alcoa Inc
Materials

Amazon.com Inc
Consumer Discretionary

Baxter International Inc
Health Care

Coca Cola Company
Consumer Staples

Dell Inc
Information Technology

Eastman Kodak Company
Consumer Discretionary

Genzyme Corp.
Health Care

Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Financials

Hewlett-Packard Company
Information Technology

Intel Corp.
Information Technology

Nike Inc
Consumer Discretionary

PG & E Corp.
Utilities

Pinnacle West Capital Corp.
Utilities

Procter & Gamble Company
Consumer Staples

Prologis
Financials

FPL Group Inc
Utilities

State Street Corp.
Financials

The Walt Disney Company
Consumer Discretionary

United Technologies Corp.
Industrials

These corporations are leading the way by showing the business community that sustainability is an increasingly integral component of successful free enterprise. And for every firm mentioned in this list of corporate giants there are thousands of small businesses assuming the mantle of environmental responsibility and stewarding the transition to a more sustainable economy.


Related Articles
Obama’s 'Renewable Energy Revolution' Speech
Environmental Assessment of Obama's First 100 Days
The Business of Earth in America
What is Wrong with the Right
Green Stimulus Spending and Republican Opposition
The Way Forward
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The Green Job Market
Investing in American CleanTech
Obama's Executive Orders
Excerpts of Obama's Inaugural Address
A New Energy Economy: Obama's Gift to America and the World
US Green Legislation
Alternative Energy Investments Under Obama
Obama's Green Stimulus
Green Stimulus Part 2: Basic Elements
America Votes: Environmental Politics
The State of the Economy
The Politics of Intransigence

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada's Most Sustainable Businesses

According to the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations for 2009, Canada ranks sixth in the world with 5 sustainable companies in the top 100. The results were determined by Corporate Knights Inc., a Canadian media company and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, a New York-based investment advisory firm.

The G100 includes companies from 15 countries encompassing all sectors. They were evaluated according to how effectively they managed environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities relative to their industry peers.

Two-thirds (65/100) of the 2008 companies remained on the list in 2009, and almost half of the 100 companies have been in existence for at least 100 years. Since 2005, these 100 corporations have outperformed the MSCI World Index by 480 basis points per annum through the end of 2008.

In recognition of Canada's birthday, here are a list of Canada's most sustainable corporations according to the 2009 G100 results announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:

Encana

Encana (ECA) is a diversified oil and gas leader, they review their corporate responsibility commitments in a report that includes performance data and stories that demonstrate the firms sustainable initiatives.

Telus

Telus Corp. (TU) is a telecom provider. Their new ‘green' Internet data centre is LEED certified and will have one of the lowest carbon footprints in North America. Their high-performance sustainable buildings demonstrates a “whole building” approach to environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environment quality.This world-class Internet data centre will create sustainable employment opportunities and the construction of TELUS' next generation wireless network is currently using leading edge mobile broadband technology.

TransCanada

TransCanada Corp. (TRP) focuses on pipeline and energy in the natural gas industry. With more than 50 years experience, TransCanada is a leader in the responsible development and reliable operation of North American energy infrastructure. TransCanada’s businesses are organized into two segments: Pipelines and Energy. Their ability to deliver energy reliably and responsibly is rooted in their core values of integrity, collaboration, responsibility and innovation. They have made clear their respect the environment and strive to minimize our environmental impact.

Toronto-Dominion Bank

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) is one of Canada’s Big 5 banks with a large presence in the US. The TD Bank Financial Group is commited to the principles of sustainable development. As a responsible corporate citizen, TD recognizes that environmental and social sustainability are important to long-term economic growth. The incorporation for a sustainablitlity perspective helps us to reflect the values of all stakeholders in everything they do. They endeavour to manage and marshal their resources in a way that promotes the wellbeing of communities and the environment. That means paying attention to issues such as biodiversity, forest ecosystems and climate change. TD has organized their environmental framework around forest biodiversity, climate change, aboriginal peoples and minimizing their operational footprint.

Royal Bank

The Royal Bank of Canada (RY) is the most profitable bank in Canada. They believe the environment is fundamental to the sustainability of their communities, clients and their company. And they believe that they can help to preserve the environment, while at the same time providing both short- and long-term benefits to their shareholders, clients and employees. They have prioritized three environmental issues alongside public education. Climate Change, Forestry, Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples and Water. The Royal Bank's Blue Water Project is providing $50 million in grants to support initiatives that help protect watersheds and ensure access to clean drinking water around the world. The Royal Bank's Environmental Policy, Responsible Lending, Environmental Objectives, Environmental Footprint, and Environmental Blueprint are important features of the bank's tangible committments to the environment.

The success of these Canadian companies illustrates that sustainability is a key success factor. An environmentally responsible vision is vital to both the planet and business' competitive positioning.

Related Articles
Made in Canada: A Sustainable World Order
Obama's Visit to Canada
Obama's Visit to Canada
One Million Acts of Green: The Human Network Effect
Green Policy Debated in Canadian Parliament
The State of Green
Canada Votes: Environmental Politics
Canadian Government Green Incentives
Canadian Provincial Government Green Incentives: Prairies
Green Marketing Legislation
Canadian Municipal Green Incentives
Canadian Provincial Government Green Incentives: North
Canadian Provincial Government Green Incentives: Atlantic
Canadian Provincial Government Green Incentives: Centre
Canadian Provincial Government Green Incentives: Prairies
Canadian Provincial Government Green Incentives: West