Archive for September, 2011


September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

To celebrate our twenty-five years in socially responsible investing, we are throwing a client appreciation party, and you are invited.  That’s twenty-five years of helping investors use their money to change the world, longer than one-tenth of this nation’s history!  This event will be a presentation/talk by one of the leaders in progressive shareholder engagement, Andy Behar, CEO of As You Sow, preceded by a stand-up dinner provided by “5/Five,” the award-winning restaurant at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza. 

Andy is a fascinating and entertaining speaker and his topic is one of the more exciting and effective elements of SRI.  “Shareholder Advocacy” is the process of engaging with corporations  to encourage them to take greater responsibility for their effects on the world.  This is one of the most important ways in which your money may be used to create real change in corporate behavior and corporate influence.

As You Sow has played a lead role in the struggle to get computer companies to take responsibility for their products at end-of-life, in getting retailers to sell certified wood instead of original growth, in encouraging soda companies to recycle, in removing toxics like BPA from our food stores and the list goes on.   This talk will be fun.

This is where the excitement in SRI takes place and where real change is made.  Please come, listen to a lead advocate tell his stories, and ask questions about past victories (and failures).  I hope you will come help us celebrate our twenty-five years in SRI (since August, 1986). 

Event Info:

Where?  The Hotel Shattuck Plaza in downtown Berkeley at 2086 Allston Way at the corner of Shattuck.  This is one block from the Berkeley BART station.  There are two public garages within one block (on Allston and Kittredge).

When?  TUESDAY, November 15th from 6pm – 8pm.

What?  Food and drink will be served in the courtyard behind “5/Five” Restaurant, and Andy’s talk will be in a conference room behind the courtyard.

Cost:  Our treat – This is a client appreciation event to which everyone on this mailing list is invited.  You are encouraged to bring a guest if you like.

Sponsored by Calvert Group

Space is limited, so please make your reservation early.


Lincoln & Justin

Categories: Uncategorized


September 2, 2011 Leave a comment

These last few weeks have been a textbook lesson on the problems of market timing. 

Think about it.  If four weeks ago the American stock markets had fallen forty or fifty percent or more, nearly everybody would have said, “I knew it was going to happen.”  The people who took portfolios to cash would be coming out of the woodwork, saying, “I predicted it and sold my clients’ portfolios.”

But instead, the markets have moved essentially sideways, and with huge, historic volatility.  Why?  Because stocks are currently considered to be undervalued, a rare buying opportunity.  Each time the stock market falls three, four or five percent, buyers rush in to pick up bargains at a discount.  This makes the stock markets rise in value, then the pessimists leap in, the bargain hunters take the profits they’ve made and this causes the markets to tumble until stocks are a bargain again and the markets rise once more.  This did not happen in 2008 because then stocks were considered to be overvalued, with few bargains to be found.

Those who sold everything a few weeks ago and  took most of their investments to cash are either hiding or buying or both. 

And, so, what’s it to be now?  A recovery (which is the most common prediction right now) or a market crash and a “double-dip” recession?  Do we “know” what is to happen now?  Do we “know” that the markets are about to crash?   On the before the day of this writing the market was down substantially.  Today it is “up sharply.”

Historically, a sideways, choppy market like the one we have been in for a few months has  eventually broken out steeply either up or down.

The Republicans are willing, even eager, to drive our economy over a cliff to further enrich the most wealthy and to discredit Obama and the Democrats.  The Democrats are inclined to let the Republicans do this so as to discredit  them in 2012.  And these people work for us!!  Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, has stated that his primary goal is to unseat President Obama in 2012.  His oath of office is to the Constitution and to the people of the U.S., (not Grover Norquist) but serving our well being  is not his primary goal.  This may not be illegal, but it is moral and ethical treason.

We are used to planning and managing money in an environment driven by economic reality (which is uncertain and volatile enough!).  But, when the politicians decide to cause downturns for political reasons divorced from business cycles,  then planning becomes much more precarious.  Another way to put this is that it is not the downturns that worry me.  You should all be allocated to take such downturns into account.  But what if, after the downturns, there is no net growth?  That’s where our politicians and bankers have been taking us for the last eleven years.  In this environment the process of trying to use historical norms to manage your money and help you get to your goals, becomes much more difficult.  It requires that we be, at least in the short term,  much more nimble and creative. 

Fortunately, First Affirmative has been in the forefront of developing new tools for us to work with, but in order to navigate the twists and turns for you I am going to need even more of your participation than in the past.

For those of you whose money is being managed under our auspices, let’s get together soon to discuss what choices/changes would be most appropriate.  If you and I have met  a short while ago, let’s at least have a phone meeting right away. 

For all of you reading this, we should probably get together to discuss how your financial plans may need to be re-evaluated.  The assumptions of the past may very well not apply any more.  For the next few years it may be tricky to invest in the traditional ways and still get anything like historical returns.   How will this affect your financial planning?  Let’s talk about it.

Categories: Uncategorized