ESG Archive

Aug 01, 1997
For Sam, the ultimate vindication of free-market economics was not the collapse of communism. That, he always believed, was inevitable, given the many inefficiencies of the system. So there was little satisfaction in it. No, what gives Sam real comfort are the problems currently being faced by countries such as Germany. Sam is not exactly an original thinker but he is both energetic and articulate. He used to be a professor of economics at a west coast univers...
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Jul 01, 1997
Back in the good old depression days, J Maynard Keynes worked out how to kick start a faltering economy: the government had to pump liquidity into its rusty bearings. It was okay for the government to run up debts during the downside of the cycle and when indices were indifferent, but it would be no bad thing if some of the money borrowed was buried in glass jars while some of the rest was used to hire the unemployed to dig it out. Of course, it would have been much...
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Jul 01, 1997
I don't think much about computers. The occasional question crosses my mind - like, if they can build or program a machine which can beat Gary Kasparov, why can't they deal with the year 2000 problem? But, on the whole, I just get on and use the thing without thinking about it. Except when things go wrong. It's much the same as I do with the other bits of technology which have transformed my life, such as the dishwasher and the video. I was having to thi...
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Jul 01, 1997
Brussels is a city of contradictions. You ask people what it's like to live there and they'll tell you it's a parochial village compared to London or Paris. And yet it's widely regarded as the capital of Europe. The wealth of the place is obvious. The streets are jammed with BMWs and Saab Turbos, the pavements lined with expensive restaurants and bars. Yet in a poll of people in 47 countries last year, Belgians were found to be the most pessimistic about their ...
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Jun 01, 1997
'It will be old-time investor relations - but on the Internet: constantly providing information, posting notices, responding to e-mail inquiries, creating chat-room forums for shareholders to talk directly to management. And the companies that don't do it will never stack up to the companies that do.' That doesn't sound much like your usual government bureaucrat. In 1980, a young man from Kansas City came to Washington DC with a dream of studying international...
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Jun 01, 1997
'I've always believed that investor relations is a variegated market,' says Chris Birks, director at London-based IR consultancy Frew MacMaster. 'For some UK companies, the IR service offered by brokers is probably all they want and all they need. It's not a question of black and white - more a question of horses for courses.' It's a veiled criticism of the competition, of course, although he's careful not to refer to them as competitors. Birks has just spent ...
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Jun 01, 1997
Rarely has a phrase buzzed so persistently as shareholder value. And rarely have buzzwords been so fuzzy. As that well known CEO, Humpty Dumpty, said, 'When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.' In the interests of better informed IR, we checked dictionaries from the Oxford English to Barron's Guide to Financial Terms, and drew a complete blank. So we decided we'd better see if we could deduce its meaning from usage and...
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Jun 01, 1997
Integrity. Literacy. Numeracy. Patience. A cool head. Intelligence. Charm. Honesty. Openness. Discretion. Affability. Accessibility. Flexibility. Sociability. Fearlessness. These are just some of the qualities to be found in a first-rate IRO. Oh, and humor, of course. Withstanding the onslaught of queries from tiresome moms & pops, never mind bolshy analysts and inquisitive portfolio managers, requires a sense of humor perhaps beyond all else. Why, ...
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Jun 01, 1997
Investor Relations magazine sometimes stumbles unknowingly into the crossfire of turf wars when we approach an IR department famed for its speedy responses - and find ourselves hanging on the phone in corporate communications. There is no such problem with global power company AES Corp, whose slimline headquarters in Arlington on the outskirts of Washington DC is a reproach to the sprawling Federal bureaucracy down the road. No turf and no turf wars are the re...
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Jun 01, 1997
Tunnel-digging and corporate governance. Not things that you'd normally associate with each other - unless reference is being made to poorly performing directors who dig themselves further into holes in an effort to get out of trouble. But put those metaphorical tunnel ideas out of your head - this is the real thing. We're talking about the type of holes you dig to enable a train to cross the Channel, or to get out of jail, for example. Ah-ha, you cry, now it'...
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