Creative Capital

Earth Mother vs. Money

Abbott Sekaquaptewa and I were sitting precariously on the edge of a mesa, the dark desert spread out below us, the night sky overcast and black. Abbott told me that way back when the Hopi were protected by the Apache, the Hopi tribe was united—everyone hated the Apache and would have nothing to do with …

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An Evening with the Hopi Tribal Council

The Hopi tribe is governed by an American-style system of representative democracy more or less imposed on them by the Bureau of Indian Affairs back in 1936. In the days when I was dealing with Abbott, the Hopi Tribal Council consisted of about twenty representatives, each serving two-year terms. The representatives were elected from the …

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The Hopi’s Last Hope

My new friend, Abbott Sekaquaptewa, had walked me through the history of the Hopi tribe, beginning with their birth as children of the Earth Mother up to about AD 500, when the Hopi had hired a fierce Apache tribe to protect them. As I noted last week, although the Hopi owed their entire continued existence …

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Abbott Sekaquaptewa: The Man Who Asked for Help

One day, innocently sitting at my desk and annoying no one, I opened a long letter from a guy named Abbott Sekaquaptewa, who seemed to be the Chairman of the Hopi Indian Tribe (as they were known in those days). As I read through Abbott’s letter I became more and more befuddled. He seemed to …

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Responsible Investing Without the Hype: The Conclusion

We’ll finish up our examination of some of the challenges associated with responsible investing by looking at a few random issues. Good intentions don’t count in RI There are lots of areas of human endeavor where good intentions matter a lot, but RI isn’t one of them. In RI, good intentions, if not married to …

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Philosophical Issues Bedeviling Responsible Investing

We’ve reviewed many potential pitfalls that bedevil responsible investing, but now let’s turn to some of the more philosophical issues in the space. Try to ignore self-interested research in the RI sector. Almost every day, a financial or consulting firm publishes “research” purporting to show that this or that type of RI produces terrific outcomes. …

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Traps Awaiting Unsuspecting RI Investors

Last week, we noted the tendency of the financial industry to take advantage of investors, including responsible investing (RI) investors. We also observed how this led to the epidemic of greenwashing: recharacterizing rather ordinary investments as RI investments. This week we’ll move beyond the greenwashing problem and look at other pitfalls for RI investors. Think …

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Responsible Investing Without the Hype

“ESG offers the chance of a fantastic rebranding for an unpopular [financial] industry, an excuse to crunch a lot of data and then charge for it, a great opportunity to bid for the huge pools of money held on behalf of public sector workers and charitable organizations … and most of all an opportunity for active …

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Reeling in the Big One

AONE made a grandiloquent gesture with his arm, saying, “These are all my paintings.” They were hung around the four walls of the giant loft and it looked to me like there might be a thousand of them. We circumnavigated the loft clockwise, pausing in front of each painting so AONE could explain the inspiration …

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A Tale of Two Lofts

The Exotic Eastern European Film Director (EEEFD) and I climbed out of our cab and rang the bell at the studio of the Internationally Famous Artist (IFA). The IFA gave us a tour of his studio, which was eye-opening. Even in those days, Soho was a heart-stoppingly expensive neighborhood, but the IFA owned a huge, …

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AONE and Me

“Could it be our boy’s done something rash?” —Bertholt Brecht, “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer,” or “Mack the Knife,” translated and sanitized by Marc Blitzstein, with thanks to Bobby Darin If you want to cause a lot of trouble for yourself, you could do worse than to sit down and write a screenplay. I know precisely nothing …

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A New Taiwan Policy

The final leg in our Cold War II stool is the containment of China diplomatically. To make the point that China no longer has a free pass, the first step in the West’s diplomatic offensive needs to be focused on Taiwan. Assuming that the West’s military containment of China has succeeded in confining the country inside …

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The Perils Facing China

As global trade retreats and is replaced by regional trading blocs, power will flow to those countries that are most self-reliant. By self-reliant, I mean countries that are best able to a) maintain vigorous economic growth without relying excessively on exports; b) feed their populations without importing vast amounts of food; and c) be more or …

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China is Destined to Fall Behind

Whatever happens with my proposal that the West launch Cold War II, the next three decades will be far less friendly to the Chinese economy than the past three decades have been. There are three reasons for this. First, there is what we might call “the law of large economies.” It’s relatively easy for a …

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Containing China Economically

Assuming that we can summon the courage to contain Beijing militarily, the next leg of the containment stool is to restrain China economically. Military containment will prevent China from overrunning other lands and peoples, but only economic containment can bring the Chinese Communist Party to its knees (or its senses). In Cold War I, it was …

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The Argument for Containing China

“In the Indo-Pacific region, China wants complete dominance; it wants to force the United States out and become the region’s unchallenged political, economic, and military hegemon. And globally … it wants to be powerful enough to counter Washington when needed.” –Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign Affairs We are talking about how a cold war between China and …

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U.S & China: Setting the Record Straight

In April of 2017, as Donald Trump and Xi Jinping were preparing to meet, a group of academics, policy wonks and former diplomats took out a full-page ad in the New York Times. The wonks warned the U.S. against falling into the “Thucydides Trap.” The ad explained the Thucydides Trap as arising when a dominant power …

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Fed Cred: The Quailing Central Bank and What it Means

It’s been a long time since I berated my friends at the Fed, and my typing fingers are getting itchy. So I’m interrupting my Cold War II series for a little pleasant Fed-bashing. Part of the reason for my (uncharacteristic) forbearance is that I thought Jay Powell was mostly doing the right things. He’d been …

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Why China Is Ready to Fall Apart

In the 1980s, almost four decades into Cold War I, President Reagan dramatically ratcheted up the pressure on the Soviet Union by expanding and modernizing the U.S. military and launching his famous “Star Wars” (Strategic Defense) Initiative. The policy apparatus in the West went berserk. Reagan was, they claimed, wildly escalating the Cold War. The …

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The Trouble with China

Virtually every American policymaker believed that the collapse of the USSR marked “the end of history.” Ever since the dawn of human civilization, hostile societies had vied for supremacy, resulting in war after war. But, it was thought, the break-up of the main sponsor of Communism demonstrated that there were simply no political ideas that …

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Outlasting the Russians

Within a period of four months in 1945, both Germany (in May) and Japan (in September) surrendered. At that time the Allies controlled most of the world, including Western Europe, while the Soviets controlled Eastern Europe. The USSR had been our “ally” during the war only in the narrowest sense of the word. Stalin had …

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Cold War II

Roughly five years ago, my book, “The Stewardship of Wealth,” was published in the U.S. Almost immediately, it was translated into Chinese and was being readied for publication by Tsinghua University Press in Beijing. But then one day—actually, it was nearly midnight—I received a frantic call. It seemed that there was a teensy-weensy problem: the Chinese …

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