Aim for “Woke Capital” – The New York Times

Five big Wall Street companies woke up yesterday with a headache and the disorder appears to be spreading rapidly. Riley Moore, the outspoken West Virginia treasurer, announced that Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, BlackRock, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo were banned from doing business with the state because they had stopped supporting the coal industry, reports David Gelles of the Times.

Banks have drastically reduced funding for new coal projects, while BlackRock has reduced its actively managed stakes in coal companies since 2020. Coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, has become less profitable in recent years.

Some of the companies do business with West Virginia in various ways. JPMorgan, for example, operates some banking services for the West Virginia public university. But the dollar figures are relatively small and the law does not affect the state pension fund holdings.

Development is yet another step towards a politicized world red marks and blue marks. In these hyperpartisan times, companies are increasingly trapped between conservatives and progressives, and some brands are being labeled Republican or Democratic. The timing of the announcement was surprising, coming just hours after Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who had been the top Democratic obstacle to climate legislation, gave in and agreed to sign.

Meanwhile in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis vented on the alleged “awakened” ideology of some financial services firms., criticizing ESG investments and announcing plans for legislation that “would prohibit large banks, credit card companies and money transmitters from discriminating against customers for their religious, political or social beliefs.” In a press conference this week, he also said he wants to ban state pension fund managers from considering environmental factors when making investment decisions. Instead, he said, they need to focus only on “maximizing the return on investment”.

Companies are now “marginalizing” people due to political disagreements, De Santis said. “That’s not how you can manage an economy effectively.” He spotted PayPal, which cut accounts associated with far-right groups that participated in the January 6 Capitol uprising, and GoFundMe, which blocked donations to a trucker support group that occupied Ottawa this year.

Shares of Amazon rise as the company says consumer demand remains strong. Positive comments from CEO Andrew Jassy and other senior executives have caused investors to shrug off the fact that the giant internet retailer has experienced the slowest quarterly sales growth in the past two decades and has cut nearly 100,000 employees. Apple’s quarterly results were also better than expected, as Big Tech’s profits were resilient despite the slowdown in the economy.

The euro zone economy grew faster than expected, but so did inflation. Positive GDP growth for the region, one day after the US reported that economic growth plummeted for the second consecutive quarter, eased some concerns about stagflation growth. However, inflation in the eurozone reached 8.9% in July compared to a year ago, a new high.

The Biden administration plans to offer updated booster shots in September. With the reformulated hits of Pfizer and Moderna on the horizon, the FDA has decided that Americans under 50 should wait to receive a second booster.

A new book reignites debate over how the LA Times editors handled a 2017 complaint. Paul Pringle, a veteran LA Times reporter, writes in his book “Bad City” that top publishers tried to slow down the paper’s initial pioneering article, which he detailed as the dean of the University of Southern California medical school. used drugs with young people.

Merchant Joe’s workers in a Massachusetts store form a union. It’s the only one of the supermarket chain’s 500-plus stores with a formal union, but similar moves are underway elsewhere, just as the union campaign has spread to Starbucks. Trader Joe’s will soon face at least one more union vote, in a Minneapolis store next month, and workers from a Colorado store filed an election petition this week.

Oil companies are seeing rising profits, even as consumers and world leaders are facing the hardships caused by rising energy prices.

Buoyed by high oil and gas prices, the energy sector is expected to increase earnings by more than 250% in the second quarter. Exxon Mobil and Chevron, the two largest US oil companies, posted record profits this morning, with Exxon’s profit more than tripling from a year ago. Major European oil companies, Shell and TotalEnergies, posted a total of $ 21 billion in profits yesterday.

The fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to significant financial benefits for energy companies and their investors. The pain of rising energy prices and shortages, however, was especially felt by consumers and businesses in Europe, who received about half of Russia’s oil exports before the invasion. In Asia and Africa, rising energy prices could drive millions of people back into energy poverty, the International Energy Agency warned last month.

It has also led to profit claims. President Biden said last month that oil companies were benefiting from their under-investment in refining capacity. In Britain, Boris Johnson, the outgoing prime minister, imposed an unexpected tax on major oil and gas companies. But one of the main contenders to replace him, Liz Truss, said she was against the tax because it would send “the wrong signal to the world” and that Shell should be encouraged to invest in Britain.

Oil companies have pointed the finger at politicians. Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, said yesterday that energy prices have been high in part due to government policies that have discouraged investment in oil and natural gas in recent years.

Gas prices in the United States have fallen over the past month and there are some indications that further relief may be expected. Citigroup said in a research note today that it expects growth in oil supply to outweigh weaker demand. However, geopolitical factors and climate could change the price trajectory, particularly if the US has an active hurricane season that disrupts refining capacity. “Only some of these risks materializing could trigger a continuous perfect storm of high volatility,” Citigroup said.


– Stefan Lewis, a former Rotterdam city council member, explains outrage over the city’s decision, since revoked, to temporarily dismantle a bridge to host Jeff Bezos and his superyacht.

Each year, state and local officials negotiate about $ 95 billion in economic development deals, competing with each other to recruit companies into their communities with profitable subsidies in exchange for their business.

But some companies are becoming increasingly aggressive in forcing officials to sign nondisclosure agreements that could end up hurting the communities that companies were supposed to help, according to a new report from the American Economic Liberties Project, a progressive antitrust advocacy group. NDAs sometimes prohibit officials from divulging basic information about a company, such as its name and the type of business it is building, Pat Garofalo, an author of the report, told DealBook.

These nondisclosure agreements prevent community members, such as local workers and businesses, from sharing their input on the agreement until it is completed. A recent example is the $ 4 billion battery factory that Panasonic will build in Kansas, which will receive nearly $ 1 billion in subsidies. Before the deal was completed, Panasonic was also negotiating with Oklahoma and the states were in a bidding war over the electronics giant’s business. But lawmakers could not speak in public about the company on the other side of the negotiating table and sometimes they did not even know its name. In April, Oklahoma officials complained who had two hours to contemplate a complex incentive package worth $ 700 million, or roughly 8 percent of the state budget. “How do I go back to my constituents and say, ‘I gave away three-quarters of a billion dollars to a company I don’t even know the name of?’ Is responsable?State Representative Collin Walke said during an appropriations meeting.

Some states have introduced bills to ban these NDAs, which the report calls “an extremely common tactic” in development agreements. This year, such legislation was introduced in New York, Michigan, Illinois and Florida. The New York State Senate voted unanimously to pass a ban. Garofalo thinks New York lawmakers have been galvanized by the Amazon HQ2 offering that fell apart in 2019. But he notes that communities don’t have to wait for politicians to fix the problem. Citizens involved have used the laws on public gatherings and records to solve the mysteries of subsidies, and sometimes a little transparency is all it takes, Garofalo said. “When the public has a say,” he told DealBook, “the offers are better or the negative offers are eliminated immediately.”

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