LONDON – The Church of England has launched a study into an existential question: do its investments in big-tech giants contradict the Christian faith?
The Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) will determine whether some of the new technologies undermine “the very idea of God”, a spokesman for the Church told AFP on Monday.
The year-long review was first reported by The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
EIAG was set up in the early 1990s to help make sure that more than £12 billion ($15.5 billion, 14 billion Euros) in assets held by the Church’s various institutions are put to ethical use.
“Artificial intelligence [AI] is an important element of this review,” the spokesman said.
The EIAG is in talks with technology experts as well as politicians and theologians “to try to make sense of the issues”, the spokesman said.
It wants to reach a conclusion “that is not only grounded in theology and distinctly Anglican but is also practical”, he added.
EIAG did not specify how much money the Church has invested in the likes of Google’s parent company Alphabet and Amazon.
The Church’s 2018 annual report also reported investments in drugs development companies AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.
“Some argue that tech has brought enormous benefits to society but others note a growing realization of the limitations and downsides of technology,” the spokesman said.
China Passes U.S. As No. 1 Destination For Foreign Investment As Coronavirus Upends Global Economy – Forbes
As the world struggled to contain the coronavirus crisis, foreign direct investment in the United States plummeted 49% in 2020 while investment in China rose 4%, making China the largest recipient of foreign inflows for the first time, according to a report released Sunday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
China pulled in $163 billion in new investments from foreign businesses in 2020 while the U.S. fell into second place with $134 billion.
The U.S. and China had broadly different responses to the pandemic, with China’s government instituting strict, large-scale lockdown measures in early 2020 while the United States’ response was far less centralized and far less effective in curbing the spread of the virus.
That prompted a major shift in the global economy—while the United States and other Western countries struggled to contain the pandemic, China went back to work, manufacturing picked up, and as a result China was the only major economy to report economic expansion in 2020.
While the momentum of FDI has been shifting towards China for several years, the total stock of foreign investment is still larger in the United States, the Wall Street Journal notes.
FDI in India rose 13% in 2020, while FDI in the European Union fell by two-thirds.
The U.N. expects foreign investment overall to remain weak in 2021.
42%. That’s how much foreign direct investment fell across the globe in 2020, from $1.5 trillion in 2019 to $859 billion in 2020. Most of that decline occurred in developed countries, the U.N. said.
Despite increasingly frosty relations between the U.S. and China, western firms are continuing to pour their resources into the rapidly growing economy there. Last month, Goldman Sachs took full ownership of its Chinese joint venture partner. JPMorgan did the same in November. Tesla is ramping up production in China and early last year, PepsiCo spent $705 million to buy a Chinese snack brand.
“U.S. and other foreign firms will continue to invest in China as it remains one of the most resilient economies during the global pandemic and as future growth potential there remains stronger than most other major economies,” Rhodium Group analyst Adam Lysenko told Bloomberg last month.
China Overtakes U.S. as World’s Leading Destination for Foreign Direct Investment (Wall Street Journal)
Post-pandemic investment idea with a better chance of success
Want a post-pandemic recovery trade that stands a much better chance of success than theme parks, restaurants and air travel? Try clothing.
The apparel stocks, both on the retail and production side, are on a bona fide uptrend, and for good reason. We can debate the extent to which we all go back to work at the office full-time. We can debate whether we will travel by air or eat out as much as we did before. We can decide whether we will go the movies or stay home and watch Netflix on the fancy video systems we bought this past year. We can ponder whether we need to renew our gym memberships now that we have Peloton bikes in the basement.
But there is no doubt that once we’re all vaccinated, we will be heading out and about. The era of only doing video calls while wearing sweatpants may not end totally, but will surely subside.
And here is the issue: As we go back out and engage socially or professionally, we are going to need new clothes. While we cut back dramatically on services (mostly because they weren’t available to us), in the past year we did buy more cars (up 10 per cent), sporting goods (up 15 per cent), pharma products (up 6 per cent), furniture (up 3 per cent), groceries (up 9 per cent) and building materials (up 17 per cent). The one merchandise item that declined was clothing – sales slumped 16 per cent over the past year to a level that is lower today than it was in June, 2011 (these are from U.S. retail sales numbers, but the trends in Canada are similar).
So we need new apparel for two reasons. The first is that this is an area of spending that has been totally neglected. The second is that we can’t fit into our existing wardrobes (see that 9 per cent growth in the grocery bill). We ate too much during lockdown and exercised a lot less. And so we have a situation where, according to a recent survey commissioned by Boston-based biotechnology company Gelesis, more than 70 million Americans gained weight during the pandemic. (And don’t think our lazy habits are going to change that quickly – in a year with limited entertainment or social options, only 17 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to give up their favourite TV or streaming service.) Rates of drinking have increased as well, and smoking has gone up for the first time in years. So many things have changed – and while we spent so much money sprucing up our homes, we gave short shrift to our own appearance.
Another survey from Weight Watchers, showing that 36 per cent of respondents said they had gained weight during this past year, means the number is likely actually closer to 100 million. So there is no way many of us are going to fit into our old clothes postpandemic. The shopping that will result isn’t just about replacing items owing to natural wear and tear or rushing to buy the latest fashions, as we normally might. It’s about replacing the whole darn wardrobe – and that means spending on clothing is going to be the one area of the reopening and recovery trade that we can rely on.
And this is also not a case of buying into a part of the retail sector that needs to find a bottom – rather, it is about buying into an existing tailwind that very likely has further to go. In fact, I can easily see a situation, once we attain the holy grail of herd immunity, where clothing sales soar between 20 per cent and 30 per cent.
David Rosenberg is founder of Rosenberg Research, and author of the daily economic report Breakfast with Dave.
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Source:- The Globe and Mail
Deutsche Bank Probes Misselling of Investment Bank Products: FT – Yahoo Canada Finance
The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Top aides to President Joe Biden on Sunday began talks with a group of moderate Senate Republicans and Democrats on a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package as Biden faces increasing headwinds in his effort to win bipartisan backing for the initial legislative effort of his presidency. Lawmakers on the right question the wisdom of racking up bigger deficits while those on the left are urging Biden not to spend too much time on bipartisanship when the pandemic is killing thousands of Americans each day and costing more jobs amid tightening restrictions in many communities. At least a dozen senators met for an hour and 15 minutes in a virtual call with White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese and other senior White House officials. Many hope to approve a relief package before former President Donald Trump’s trial, which is set to begin in two weeks, overtakes Washington’s attention. Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine, called the opening talks a “serious effort.” “There was not a hint of cynicism or lack of commitment to at least trying to work something out,” King said. “If they were just trying to jam this through, I don’t think it would have interrupted the Packers game.” King told reporters that there was “absolute consensus” among the group that the No. 1 priority was to speed up the distribution of vaccinations and expanding COVID-19 testing and tracing. The White House did not seem to budge on breaking up the package or reducing the overall price tag, even as it pushes for bipartisan support. There was also no discussion of pushing it through on a procedural move that could be done without Republicans, King said. One key Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said afterward, “It seems premature to be considering a package of this size and scope.” Collins said instead she would pull the bipartisan group together “and see if we could come up with a more targeted package.” She said in a statement that a bill with additional funding for vaccine distribution “would be useful.” Senators from both parties raised questions about the economic aid provisions, particularly making direct $1,400 payments to Americans more tailored to recipients based on need. Senators also wanted more data on how the White House reached the $1.9 trillion figure. Many of the senators are from a bipartisan group that struck the contours of the last COVID-19 deal approved late last year. They were joined on the call by the two leaders of the House’s Problem Solvers Caucus, Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Tom Reed, R-N.Y., who were also part of earlier discussions. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., told The Associated Press that no red lines were drawn. But she added there was consensus among the call’s participants “that the more targeted the aid is the more effective it can be.” Overall, “it was a conversation and it was not about drawing lines in the sand,” Shaheen said. “It was about how can we work together to help the people of this country.” White House coronavirus response co-ordinator Jeff Zients and White House legislative affairs director Louisa Terrell also joined the call. Out of the gate, Biden has made clear that quickly passing another round of coronavirus relief is a top priority as he seeks to get the surging pandemic and the related economic crisis under control, while demonstrating he can break the gridlock that has ailed Congress for much of the last two presidencies. Biden and his aides in their public comments have stressed that his plan is a starting point and that finding common ground on relief should be attainable considering the devastating impact the pandemic is exacting on Democratic and Republican states alike. With more than 412,000 dead and the economy again losing jobs, Biden has argued there is no time to lose. “We’re going to continue to push because we can’t wait,” said White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “Just because Washington has been gridlocked before doesn’t mean it needs to continue to be gridlocked Central to Biden’s campaign pitch, beyond healing the wounds created by Trump’s presidency, was that he was a proven bipartisan dealmaker, one who would draw upon his decades in the Senate and deep relationships with Republicans to bridge partisan divides. Some Biden advisers watched with worry as the Senate, just days into the president’s term, was already in gridlock as to a power-sharing agreement, with Republican leader Mitch McConnell refusing to budge on a demand to keep the filibuster intact. If the Senate twists itself in knots over its very basics, some Democrats wondered, how could it reach a big deal? Additionally, some of Biden’s preferred methods to lobby and schmooze have been curtailed by the pandemic. Though his address book remains one of the best in Washington, it stands to be far more difficult for Biden — at least for the foreseeable future — to engage in the face-to-face politicking that he prefers. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, ahead of the meeting, raised concerns again about the wisdom of the government engaging in massive deficit spending. “If we get beyond COVID, I believe that the economy is going to come roaring back,” Romney told “Fox News Sunday.” “And spending and borrowing trillions of dollars from the Chinese, among others, is not necessarily the best thing we can do to get our economy to be strong long-term. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he didn’t have high hopes for negotiations leading to Republican support and suggested Democrats may need to use budget reconciliation to pass it with a simple majority. The procedural tool would allow Democrats to push the package to approval without the 60-vote threshold typically needed to advance legislation past a filibuster. Republicans used the same tool to pass tax cuts during the Trump administration. “What we cannot do is wait weeks and weeks and months and months to go forward,” Sanders said. “We have got to act now. That is what the American people want. “ ___ Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
China Passes U.S. As No. 1 Destination For Foreign Investment As Coronavirus Upends Global Economy – Forbes
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