In 2016 Essential Knowledge for Transition launched and offered 11 local investing workshops called Align Your Investments with Your Values around the country attended by more than 90 people.
In 2017 EK4T launched a 6-part webinar series covering the content of the daylong local investing workshop. The next live webinar will be on Tuesday February 7th at 4:30pm PT/7:30pm ET.
- The carbon math
- The virtual and the real
- Money creation and the origin of investment capital
- The source of financial returns
- Bringing money down to Earth
In the second webinar we will expand on the intuition gained in the first webinar and look specifically at the carbon math and its implications for the market valuation of oil companies. We will also look at the concept of financial intensity and realize the disconnect between the amount of investment capital around the world and the finite limits of our biosphere. We will discover the unlikely origin of investment capital by understanding the basics of the money and banking system, and the impact of money creation on the business cycle and asset bubbles. As we recognize the virtual and constructed nature of money and investment capital we will realize the importance of moving beyond the narrow lens of conventional finance and considering the true impact of our investments.
- From abstract math to finance
- Awakening to the problem – the story of a forest
- Natural capital at risk
- Slow Money
- From greed and fear to biophilia and empathy
- Examples of aligned investments
In this first webinar Marco tells his personal journey from global finance to Slow Money which began when the story of a forest awoke him to the problems of conventional finance. We will look at an important 15-year study by the UN called “Natural Capital at Risk” showing how we have been using natural capital to subsidize our global economic activity and financial returns. We will then explore the themes and ethos of Slow Money which urges us to “bring money down to Earth” and invest with the ultimate goal of restoring soil fertility. We will then look at the psychology of investing and imagine a portfolio inspired by biophilia and empathy instead of by greed and fear.
Here are the additional webinars being offered in the next five months:
Webinar 3: Beyond the narrow lens of conventional finance
Webinar 4: Portfolio Management
Webinar 5: Direct Investing 101
Webinar 6: Due Diligence 101
You can sign up for the series at this link.
To be notified of future webinars and events please join my mailing list.
I am re-posting as blog my July newsletter since the recent US election has made it quite prescient. Note in particular the sentence ” Mistrust in the political establishment is at a level not fully appreciated by the mainstream media nor by the major parties” and the last paragraph.
EK4T July 2016 Newsletter
A drop of 600 points in the Dow on June 24th following the outcome of the Brexit vote in the UK made people in the US take a passing interest in European affairs.
What is Brexit and why should we pay attention here in the US?
There are two misconceptions about the economy I would like to dispel.
The first has to do with the government being constrained like a family by its budget and having to spend no more than it brings in.
The second has to do with government debt and how important it is to reduce it.
Both concepts reveal a complete ignorance of basic macroeconomics and make possible the abomination of “austerity” – a brutal and counterproductive economic policy.
After shopping locally and eating locally, the next step necessary to building a livable future is investing locally.
I make the case for it in this podcast – From Wall Street to Main Street: an interview with Marco Vangelisti on local investing and Slow Money.
Most understand by now the importance of local investing yet very few people have actually made any local investments.
Why is local investing so difficult?
The answer lies in part with our securities laws introduced at the beginning of the Great Depression to protect investors.
Imagine a world where global multinational corporations have the power to sue any government that passes laws or regulations that have negative impacts on their current or future profits. Imagine that they could bring the case to a private tribunal whose judges are private lawyers working for other large multinational corporations, who sometimes bring cases to the same tribunal on behalf of their corporate employer. Imagine that such private tribunals can override decisions made by the highest courts of the country being sued. Imagine that there is no limit to the amount of taxpayer money the tribunal can order the defending government to pay the corporation who brought the suit. Imagine that the proceedings of these tribunals are both secret and cannot be appealed.
Well, this is the world that twelve nations, including the US, will be living in if they ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a deceptively named “trade agreement” that will have broad impacts on many aspects of social life in the countries that bind themselves to its dictates. If you think of the system of law in a particular country as its social operating system, then you could say that any nation which signs the TPP will effectively override its social operating system with one that elevates current and future corporate profits to the highest value of society.
Amy Cortese | June 5, 2015
This interview originally appeared on Locavesting.
Marco Vangelisti left his job as an investment fund manager in 2009, after an eye-opening discovery about the kinds of companies the fund, and its mission-driven clients, were investing in. The first thing he did was to liquidate his Wall Street portfolio and reinvest it in local and sustainable investments. The second thing was to embark on a quest to understand the big picture and the large systems shaping our society—the economic system, the global system of finance and the money and banking system. This inquiry forms the basis of his recent talks. We spoke with Marco about what he’s learned along his journey—and what anyone thinking of local investing should know.
Amy Cortese: You had a lucrative career as an investment manager… what caused you to walk away from that?
Marco Vangelisti: I spent the last six years of my career in finance working for a very well respected investment management firm. I was part of a team managing a $20 billion equity fund investing in emerging markets. We were quantitative managers, meaning that the fund was constructed by a series of algorithms that used statistical models we had built, rather than being the result of stock picking by members of the team. The fund was performing very well and our clients, mostly endowments and foundations including environmental foundations, were very happy with us. I discovered that one of the best performing stocks we owned was a palm oil company in Malaysia that had taken down tens of thousands of acres of rainforest and planted a monocrop of palm oil plants for the international commodity market. Its earnings and therefore the stock price got a big boost that year since the company earned lots of carbon credits for planting trees!
“One of the few investments I made that resulted in a total loss was due to my investing prior to gaining sufficient understanding of the entrepreneur’s character”
I’ve always been a nature lover and a big supporter of the environmental foundations whose money we were managing. When I found out that their money, and therefore my own charitable contributions, were implicated in funding the destruction of the natural habitats those very foundations were created to protect, I realized that the financial system was a very destructive force in the world. The level of opacity and intermediation in the global financial system had concealed until then the disconnect between my personal values and my own livelihood, a cognitive dissonance that, once recognized, made it impossible for me to continue working in the finance industry. That’s what led me to leave a very well paid and rewarding job in the middle of an economic recession in 2009.
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In January I finally visited Cuba with a tour organized by Human Agenda in Palo Alto. I have been meaning to visit the island for at least 25 years since I wanted to see Cuba before it turned into the 51st state of the US or before it got colonized by international corporate and financial capitalism and lost its unique character. The trip could not have been more timely. I had booked the trip in October of 2014 and just two months later, President Obama announced a major shift in the 50-year old US policy towards Cuba aimed at reestablishing diplomatic relationships and ease some of the economic and travel restrictions.
On Sunday October 5th, 2014 the Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance convened the first Rights of Nature Tribunal in the US. I participated as witness expert on the economic system. The ruling of the Tribunal called for defining new economic models, social systems and governance structures to create a new path forward that recognize the interdependencies of humans and earth systems. Below is my testimony.
We are here today for Chevron’s trial conducted through the lens of the Rights of Nature and I have been asked to provide expert testimony as economist. We know our current system of laws is also on trial today and I feel the economic profession and the mainstream economic theory it relies upon should be on trial as well.
Originally published in Slow Money State of the Sector Report (2014)
I worked in finance for about 20 years, the last 6 managing investment portfolios for institutional investors. As fiduciaries we were tasked with preserving and growing the capital of our clients. Our fiduciary duties were discharged by delivering financial returns with moderate risk by investing in our area of expertise.
Many of our clients were foundations and no one seemed concerned that some of the investments we were making on their behalf caused or worsened the very social and environmental problems those foundations were created to address. A case in point was one of our best performing stocks, a Malaysian palm oil company that had destroyed tens of thousands of acres of original rain forest and replaced it with a monoculture of palm oil plants. Such operation destroyed the Borneo habitat of the Orangutan, yet a few of our clients were environmental foundations trying to protect such habitat with their grants!
Slow Money seeks to catalyze investments into local foodsheds and to bring about a new way of investing, one that is appropriate to place, based on direct relationships and aligned with the values of caring for the commons, sensitivity to the carrying capacity of the planet, and non-violence.
Slow Money is also a response to Global Finance that has, on one hand made investing easy and accessible through intermediation and pooling of capital (think about all the ETFs and all the mutual funds, now in the tens of thousands, which are investment options available to all of us), while on the other hand it has allowed for the disconnect between our agency in the world, expressed through our investments, and the values we hold dear. In other words, Global Finance by making it easy for us to invest through intermediaries has removed our own investments from our sphere of awareness. Most of us are not aware of the individual holdings of mutual funds in which we might be invested, let alone how the individual companies in them are utilizing the capital and how they treat their employees, the communities they affect, and the environment.