Two moments this week reminded me why JUST’s mission matters so much to the bigger macroeconomic situation we find ourselves in.
On CNBC’s ”Squawk Box” earlier this week, Stan Druckenmiller, Duquesne Family Office chairman and CEO, said the country is spending “like drunken sailors” and that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a “big blunder” by not issuing more long-dated Treasuries when interest rates were low. Fearing what will happen when the U.S. Government rolls over the debt at higher rates, and the impact that level of debt service will have on discretionary spending, he warned of difficult times ahead.
Our own Chair, Paul Tudor Jones, touched on the subject this week too, noting that the U.S. might be in “the weakest fiscal position since WWII” and pointing to the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio hovering at around 122%. This generation of Americans, he noted, has not had to make many major sacrifices. Maybe that’s about to change.
The question, I think, is obvious: How will our society react if government spending cuts of that magnitude happen? What happens to the tens of millions of people who rely on public assistance to get by or feed their families or meet their basic medical needs? (To provide a quick snapshot, currently 20 million Americans are behind on their utility payments.) And if government is stretched beyond its means, who can step in?
Helping the private sector build a more just economy – instilling a sense of belief that markets and business are working for more people – must surely be part of the solution.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“My long-held belief is that a company should integrate its responsible business goals with its business strategy […] We use our ESG approach at Verizon as a tool to continually better society. This includes leading in digital inclusion, climate protection, human prosperity where we can make the biggest impact for our stakeholders.”
- Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg reflecting on a corporation’s goals after attending the FT’s Moral Money Summit.
The New York Times reports on President Biden’s AI executive order, which requires companies to report about potential risks their systems have for helping terrorists make weapons of mass destruction. The order also aims to curb the development of “deep fakes” that could affect elections or defraud consumers. Fortune reports that the order came as a shock to the tech industry, primarily for being a rare case of the government getting ahead of the potential problems with technological advancement.
The Fed is still struggling to get a grip on inflation. According to the AP, wages and benefits grew at a slightly faster rate over the summer than in the first two quarters. While a benefit to workers, worries persist that employers will pass those labor costs onto customers.
NPR reports that the UAW has reached a tentative deal with GM, which, if finalized, would end the last of the auto worker strikes. Meanwhile Toyota is raising wages for its entirely non-unionized U.S. factory workforce after strike settlements.
Apple, Amazon, Meta, Nike, PepsiCo, and REI come together to launch the Clean Energy Procurement Academy, a resource for companies to help reduce Scope 3 (supply chain) emissions and accelerate clean energy adoption.
As critics of ESG investing continue to push back, BlackRock has released a study showing that companies with gender-balanced workforces outperform their peers. Financial Times has the full story.
The New York Times highlights how post-pandemic benefits like remote work have been a boon to working mothers, particularly those with children under five, who have reached record levels of employment.
McDonald’s and Chipotle vow to raise menu prices in California next April to counterbalance fast-food worker pay rising to at least $20 an hour in the state.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon comes out against a raft of Texas legislation that aims to punish banks that limit their business in the firearm and fossil fuel industries. Bloomberg has the story.
CHART OF THE WEEK
In our Q3 Quarterly Review of Stakeholder Performance, we found that companies that performed best within our Workers stakeholder delivered the strongest performance over this period with a long-short spread of 7.24%, with the top decile outperforming and bottom decile underperforming. All five of the issues tracked under our Workers stakeholder delivered positive performance in Q3, with Living Wage and Benefits Issues faring best. Dive into this and more analysis here.