Author: Marco Vangelisti

Marco Vangelisti, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is a 100% Aware™ and No-Harm™ Investor with a longstanding commitment to Positive and Restorative Investing™.

The economic system on trial

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.

Local investing is about intergenerational justice

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!

A few thoughts on Slow Money investing

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.

TPP and the Great Peril of Inattention

President Obama recently returned from a trip to Asia. The primary goal of his trip was promoting the Trans Pacific Partnership – a massive “trade” agreement with vast social and environmental consequences. You will be excused for not knowing much about the TPP since it has been negotiated in secret. It turns out, the more you know about it and the less you will like it – hence the necessity for secrecy. It transfers power from sovereign governments to multinational corporations damaging democracy and frustrating attempts at bringing about a more sustainable and just society.

The goal of Essential Knowledge for Transition is to make visible the operating system of our society – to reveal the design of the monetary and banking system, the economic system and the financial system and to show ways to redesign them for the benefit of our communities and the natural systems on which we depend.

The TPP represents a massive redesign of the operating system of our society that further entrenches the very problems we are trying to solve: erosion of democracy, the power of unaccountable multinational corporations, environmental destruction, climate instability, and wealth and income inequality.