Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Gore Business

I just read this article in some business/technology magazine called Fast Company. It describes Al Gore's business success since leaving office. In addition to Current TV (an interesting topic in itself), I thought his investment firm sounded intriguing. Here's the gist of it:
Rather than rely on short-term earnings projections, they thought long-term investment potential--and good management--could be better gauged by looking at factors such as whether a company was preparing for a carbon-neutral future. Environmental stewardship, though, is just part of how Generation defines sustainability. "We think about how businesses attract and retain employees, governance, branding; how they operate in the community; and how all of that drives their business strategy," Blood explains. "We have a belief that explicit recognition of environmental, social, governance, economic, and ethical factors affect business." Generation's research team, led by Colin le Duc, has both environmental economists and traditional buy-side equity analysts, who have learned to ask a wider range of questions of the companies they cover. The firm plans to build a long-term portfolio of only 30 to 50 companies. Blood claims that returns so far have exceeded expectations, although he won't divulge specifics. (See "An Inconvenient Portfolio" for some of the firm's holdings.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sibling Rivalry

Here's an interesting article about older siblings having higher I.Q.'s than their younger counterparts, and the outcome is "due to family dynamics, not to biological factors like prenatal environment." To my older brother, I say, "You stole my 3 points!" I mean, I know I shouldn't have sniffed all that glue while you were designing model airplanes, but still.

Benzin in Deutschland

Kevin Drum writes about the minimal impact of a gasoline tax, at least one that is politically feasible. A price increase of 10% would only amount to about a 1% reduction in gasoline consumption. Having just rented a car in Munich and driven around Bavaria and Austria for 12 days, I thought I'd do a little calculation from euros/liter to dollars/gallon to see how their prices compare. In Germany, they're paying $6.82 per gallon. For some reason, it's typically more like $5.98 in Austria. (I should admit that this price gets you octane 91, the lowest they sell--you can only get octane 95 otherwise.) So how about an increase of 127%? What would that do for us? I know I was happy to be driving a car with a sewing-machine for an engine.