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Ireland becomes world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels

July 14, 2018

Damian Carrington : theguardian – excerpt

Bill passed by parliament means more than €300m shares in coal, oil, peat and gas will be sold ‘as soon as practicable’

The Republic of Ireland will become the world’s first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament.

The state’s €8bn national investment fund will be required to sell all investments in coal, oil, gas and peat “as soon as is practicable”, which is expected to mean within five years. Norway’s huge $1tn sovereign wealth fund has only partially divested from fossil fuels, targeting some coal companies, and is still considering its oil and gas holdings

The bill defines a fossil fuel company as a company that derives 20% or more of its revenue from exploration, extraction or refinement of fossil fuels. The bill also allows investment in Irish fossil fuel companies if this funds their move away from fossil fuels… (more)

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How venture capital is hurting the economy

July 14, 2018

Anthony Mirhaydari : pitchbook – excerpt

“Arguably, these firms are destroying economic value. This new dynamic has social consequences, and in particular, a drive toward disruption without social benefit. Indeed, in some cases, they may be destroying social value while also devaluing labor and work in the enterprise.”

 

This is a golden age for venture capital and the startup ecosystem, as illustrated by PitchBook’s latest PitchBook NVCA-Venture Monitor. So far this year, $57.5 billion has been invested in US VC-backed companies. That’s higher than in six of the past 10 full years and is on pace to surpass $100 billion in deal value for the first time since the dot-com bubble…

Signs of success (or is it excess?) are everywhere you look. On the surface, delivering a resounding verdict that the Silicon Valley startup model not only works, it works well and should be emulated and celebrated.

But what if that’s all wrong? What if this is another mere bubble and the VC industry is in fact storing up pain, not unlike Miami mortgage brokers and small-cap tech analysts during the last two cycles? Not just for itself, but for the economy at large?

That’s the question posited by Martin Kenney and John Zysman—of the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively—in a recent working paper titled “Unicorns, Cheshire Cats, and the New Dilemmas of Entrepreneurial Finance?“…

Or in the case of bike/scooter sharing companies, the current VC flavor of the month, a parking lot of abandoned dreams.

The problem is that this cycle has been marked by easy capital and a fetishization of the early-to-middle parts of the tech startup lifecycle. Lots of incubators and accelerators. “Shark Tank” on television. “Silicon Valley” on HBO. Never before has it been this easy and cheap to start or expand a venture…

Why is this a problem? Because, in the view of Kenney and Zysman, the VC industry lacks discipline, seeking disruption and market share dominance without a clear path to profitability. You see, VC-fueled startups aren’t held to the same standard as existing publicly traded competitors who must answer to investors worried about cash flows and operating earnings every three months. Or of past VC cycles where money was tighter, and thus, time to exit shorter…

“Arguably, these firms are destroying economic value. This new dynamic has social consequences, and in particular, a drive toward disruption without social benefit. Indeed, in some cases, they may be destroying social value while also devaluing labor and work in the enterprise.”

The wealth associated with the startup boom hasn’t been widely shared outside Silicon Valley and its backers—mainly institutional funds and wealthy accredited investors…

The thing is, many VC investors don’t care. The rise of secondary market activity in lieu of the liquidity of an IPO, as represented by Uber’s SoftBank raise, gives early investors and insiders a way to sell their stakes at higher valuation multiples to late-stage VC or PE investors before market dominance and sustainable profitability is achieved. If it ever is.

You know, because “Greed is good.” Which you expect from East Coast cutthroats; not West Coast idealists in one of the most liberal cities in America... (more)

Lawsuit targets toll authority over $3 bridge toll increase

July 10, 2018

By Erin Baldassari : mercurynews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — A taxpayers association, on behalf of three plaintiffs from Vallejo, Vacaville and Lodi, is challenging a recently approved $3 bridge toll increase in state court — a move that could potentially delay or eliminate the measure.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed the suit Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court against the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA). It challenges the notion that Regional Measure 3, which voters approved last month, is a “fee” requiring only a simple majority to pass, rather than a “tax,” which requires two-thirds voter approval.

The suit asks that the toll be invalidated…

That’s not a fair increase for the drivers who will be footing the bill for public transit or bicycle and pedestrian projects, which together account for roughly two-thirds of the planned projects, said Timothy Bittle, a lawyer for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association…

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Bay Area economy growing nearly twice as fast as rest of U.S.

July 10, 2018

: sfchronicle – excerpt

Were it a country, the Bay Area’s economy would be larger than Saudi Arabia’s, getting rich from its residents’ minds rather than minerals pumped from the ground, according to a new report.

The Bay Area’s annual growth rate of 4.3 percent over the past three years was nearly double that of the U.S. as a whole, bringing the region’s gross domestic product to $748 billion, behind only 18 countries, according to the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a think tank backed by the local business group, and consulting firm McKinsey…

“Tech continues to thrive, but tech grows at the expense of older parts of the economy. Because of the region’s unwillingness to densify … every time a new Google worker moves in, an old economy worker moves out.”…

Census data showed that the Bay Area lost a net of 45,670 people to other places in the U.S. from July 2016 to July 2017. Those departures were offset by a gain of 58,156 people from abroad during the same time period…

People leaving the Bay Area and the state altogether were concentrated in lower-paying sectors like sales, transportation and food preparation, which meant they would be less affected by the state’s high tax rates, according to Beacon…

Dederal policies including trade tariffs and immigration restrictions also threaten the region’s future, said Weinberg, of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

“Trade and immigration policies are the things I’m most concerned about in their effects on the Bay Area,” Weinberg said. “To the extent that there continues to be a real chilling effect on immigration of all types and international cooperation — that’s really the biggest threat.”… (more)

SF’s appalling street life repels residents — now it’s driven away a convention

July 7, 2018

: sfchronicle – excerpt

IMG_5332

Tenting in SF is a popular sport that turns tourists off. Photo by zrants

In a move that is alarming San Francisco’s biggest industry, a major medical association is pulling its annual convention out of the city — saying its members no longer feel safe.

“It’s the first time that we have had an out-and-out cancellation over the issue, and this is a group that has been coming here every three or four years since the 1980s,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of S.F. Travel, the city’s convention bureau.

D’Alessandro declined to name the medical association, saying the bureau still hopes to bring the group back in the future… (more)

‘This is their Hail Mary’: California GOP bets on gas tax repeal

July 6, 2018

By Carla Marinucci and Jereny B. White : politico – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — California Republicans are banking on a ballot measure this fall that the embattled state party believes can stave off a Democratic wave in November — and perhaps even spark a GOP revival in the run-up to 2020.

Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city council member, announced this week he’s raised more than $1.1 million online for his campaign to repeal the 12-cent-a-gallon gas tax backed by Gov. Jerry Brown — and polls suggest it may be heading for a November victory.

DeMaio, now a San Diego radio talk-show host, insists he’s seized on a “kitchen table” issue that has energized voters across the spectrum. California is home to the highest average gas prices in the nation, according to a recent study.

The repeal effort — known as Proposition 6 on the November ballot — has also attracted backing from state and national Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. They are counting on it to energize enough voters to save a handful of endangered California GOP House members — which could prevent the House from flipping Democratic… (more)

Do the Republicans have the ear of the displaced middle class in California? Can they have the hearts and minds of the voters who have lost the lottery and are hanging on by their fingernails to overpriced rental units they can barely afford? Are they hearing the protests against density and gentrification that is forcing people out of their homes?

Why are these pleas for relief falling on deaf ears in Sacramento? Will we see some changes in leadership in November and will the people who switch allegiance be pleased with their choice? In this year of Trump it is hard to predict how people will react or if they will vote at all.

Could we see a gas tax repeal, a close governor race, and a repeal of Costa-Hawkins in November? is the electorate schizophrenic and confused or is that how they perceive their leaders? Are they to be tolerated but not trusted?

California Dreaming: Cannabis Cash, Public Banks—and the State’s Own Mini-Fed?

July 6, 2018

By Ellen Brown : truthdig – excerpt

As Ma explained in a May 17 article in the Sacramento Bee:

There are two types of banks—those with federal charters, and banks with California charters. Because cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 narcotic, we cannot touch federal banking wires. We want state-chartered banks that are protected, regulated and certified under California law, and not required to be under the FDIC.

State income taxes, sales taxes, unemployment, workers’ compensation and property taxes could all be paid through a closed-loop system that takes in revenue from the cannabis industry, but is apart from the federal banking system. … Cannabis businesses could be part of a cashless system similar to Apple Pay, and their money would be insured by a state-licensed institution…

Spurred by the heavily cash-reliant cannabis industry, Los Angeles residents will be the first in the country to vote on a public banking mandate, after the City Council agreed on June 29 to put a measure on the November ballot that would allow the city to form its own bank…

The push for such a bank comes amid ongoing concerns involving the massive amounts of cash generated by the cannabis business, which was legalized by California’s Proposition 64 in 2016. Wesson has said cannabis has “kind of percolated to the top” of the public bank push, “but it’s not what’s driving” it, citing affordable housing and other key issues. He added the concept of a public bank should be pursued regardless of the cannabis issue…

State Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma, who is running for state treasurer, says California’s $8 billion to $20 billion cannabis industry is still operating mostly in cash almost two years after state legalization. She adds that the majority of businesses are operating on the black market without paying taxes. This is in large part because federal law denies them access to the banking system, forcing them to deal only in cash and causing logistical nightmares when paying taxes and transferring money…

In a surprise move in early June, President Trump announced he “probably will end up supporting” legislation to let states set their own cannabis policy. But Ma says that while that is good news, California cannot wait on the federal government. She and state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, have introduced Senate Bill 930, which would allow state-chartered banks and financial institutions to apply for a special cannabis banking license to accept clients after a rigorous process that follows regulations from the U.S. Treasury Department. The bill cleared a major legislative hurdle when it was approved by the state Senate on May 30… (more)

Please read and comment on Truthdig. The more comments they receive the more of these articles they will run. This is an important issue that requires some careful thought and understanding.

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