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The New Global Investors [Hardcover]

Robert A. G. Monks


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Book Description

10 April 2001
Large corporations dominate our world. More than any other factor it is corporations that decide who is rich and who is poor, what kind of education we enjoy, the quality of our environment and the use of force in international affairs. Corporate energy is perceived as the single most effective tool for creating wealth and solving society′s problems. But there is a price, and a new and potentially destructive element has emerged which fundamentally changes and increases the danger that big business represents. Through control over their boards of directors, their compensation committees, ′independent′ consultants, the accounting authorities and even governments, CEO′s have acquired the capacity to pay themselves as much as they wish. Is there now any effective limit to the power of corporate management? As the worlds most prominent and notorious shareholder activist, Robert Monks has relentlessly stalked ineffective management, waking it, shaking it, and replacing it. The New Global Investors is his most powerful call yet for a more accountable corporate world.

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"Robert Monks has written a timely book. Monks usefully draws lessons in corporate citizenship. Monks′ drier style and institutionally based prescriptions are more likely to appeal to the executive mind. So give a copy of the book to you favourite CEO, board member or pension fund manager. They will learn things that will make them much better at their jobs." (Management Today, March 2001)

"Though written from a mainly US perspective (where, after all, corporate
excesses started), this should be read by anyone concerned with corporate governance." (The Director, June 2001)

"He has produced one of the most thought–provoking books on modern capitalism.... Monks carries none of the baggage that characterises other authors operating in the field and presents carefully considered arguments to support his case." (Sunday Times – Book of the Week, 17th June 2001)

"a highly readable insight"... (Lloyd′s List, 4th August 2001)

"both an entertaining and thought–provoking read" (Professional Manager, September 2001)

"...Interesting man, Interesting book." (Professional Investor, 1 November 2001)

"..an excellent contribution to the debate on investment.." (Sunday Times 23 December 2001)

"Robert Monks has written a timely book. Monks usefully draws lessons in corporate citizenship. Monks′ drier style and institutionally based prescriptions are more likely to appeal to the executive mind. So give a copy of the book to you favourite CEO, board member or pension fund manager. They will learn things that will make them much better at their jobs."
(Management Today, March 2001)

"Though written from a mainly US perspective (where, after all, corporate excesses started), this should be read by anyone concerned with corporate governance."
(The Director, June 2001)

"He has produced one of the most thought–provoking books on modern capitalism.... Monks carries none of the baggage that characterises other authors operating in the field and presents carefully considered arguments to support his case."
(Sunday Times – Book of the Week, 17th June 2001)

"a highly readable insight"...
(Lloyd′s List, 4th August 2001)

"both an entertaining and thought–provoking read"
(Professional Manager, September 2001)

"...Interesting man, Interesting book." (Professional Investor, 1 November 2001)

"..an excellent contribution to the debate on investment.." (Sunday Times 23 December 2001)

From the Inside Flap

The New Global Investors Large corporations dominate our world. More than any other factor it is corporations that decide who is rich and who is poor, what kind of education we enjoy, the quality of our environment and the use of force in international affairs. Corporate energy is perceived as the single most effective tool for creating wealth and solving society′s problems. But there is a price, and a new and potentially destructive element has emerged which fundamentally changes and increases the danger that big business represents. Through control over their boards of directors, their compensation committees, ′independent′ consultants, the accounting authorities and even governments, CEOs have acquired the capacity to pay themselves as much as they wish. Is there now any effective limit to the power of corporate management? As the world′s most prominent and notorious shareholder activist, Robert Monks has relentlessly stalked ineffective management, waking it, shaking it and replacing it. The New Global Investors is his most powerful call yet for a more accountable corporate world.

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The forces of globalization have substantially accelerated convergence towards the publicly held corporate form. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can Pension Funds Change the World? 9 July 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Can Pension Funds Change the World?
Pension funds are not generally renowned for revolutionary acts or activisim. Monks however, designates them as potential change agents 'par excellence'. Calling them the new global investors, he believes their economic clout (without historical precedent ), and global reach affords them the opportunity to effect widespread societal change. 'By exercising their fiduciary duties to increase the wealth of their beneficiaries, they can literally change the world, since so much of the world is theirs', he says. He sees these pension funds wielding enormous power and influence not just by who they distribute their money to but their impact in how that money is managed.
Pension funds are enormous, and growing. Funds in the UK account for an amount equivalent to 62% of the UK's GDP, in the US 45% of the US GDP, and in Australia 18% of Australia's GDP.
Monks believes pension fund trustees must demand transparency of the corporations they are invested in, and actively manage their investments rather than being content to 'sit back and passively pick up profits without knowing or caring where they came from'. Monk's game plan for affecting this change focuses on the pension funds adopting a three point global corporate constitution requiring the companies they invest in to:
Fully disclose their impact on society n Reveal how much they spend on involvement in the elective, administrative and regulatory public processes Obey the law.
Point one is receiving growing public and government support. Since July 2000 pension fund trustees in the United Kingdom have been obliged to disclose in statements of investment principles 'the extent (if at all) to which social, environmental and ethical considerations are taken into account'. Legislation similar to this is currently under consideration in Australia.
Monks argues that socially and environmentally responsible investing is a part of a pension fund's fiduciary responsibility in meeting their legal requirements to invest in their beneficiaries best interests. He points out that socially and environmentally irresponsible behaviour will result in externalised costs such as environmental damage and risks to public health. These costs are eventually reflected in the company's stock price when the market perceives increased risks to future revenue from loss of reputation, possible lawsuits and fines. Pension fund trustees, Monks holds, have a duty to demand that the management of the companies in their portfolios are not only working effectively to maximize profits today, but also acting in a socially and environmentally responsible manner as the most effective way to ensure sustainable value for the future.
Transparent, accountable corporate governance has received renewed attention recently with legislation in the United Kingdom proposing the so-called "corporate killing" crime, rendering companies liable for corporate manslaughter and directors being subject to disqualification. In Australia, the Victorian Government has released a draft of the Crimes Industrial Manslaughter Bill which makes directors criminally liable for negligent acts within their company. Queensland is planning similar legislation.
To date, however fund managers have remained unconvinced that responsible environmental and social management results in a better economic performance. Initiatives such as the FTSE4Good Index being launched next month in the UK which will weigh up the share prices of companies that conform to SRI principles, will be watched closely by fund managers and pension trustees. It will be interesting to see the effects on the market if they can provide evidence of such a link.
Monk's call to arms for pension funds, and his vision of a global corporate code of governance for pension trustees is inspiring. He positions pension funds as 'the real guardians of the corporate future, with primary responsibility for expressing the interests of the ultimate owners in the governance of the modern business corporation'. Surely at least some pension trustees will see this as an exciting opportunity to effect positive societal change while delivering economic benefits to members.
A long term shareholder activist, Monks has the experience, and demonstrated fund performance, to back up his claims. He is the founder of Lens, an institutional activist investment fund which has achieved returns in excess of the S&P 500 average, since 1992 and over the last three years exceeded them by over 100%.
Monks vision, which advocates working within the current framework, should be a palatable one for pension trustees and fund managers. He believes the market system is the best system yet created to bring prosperity to the many, requiring only internal adjustment to deliver sustainable profits. His vision is that pension fund trustees will play a key role in avoiding the collision between the boundless growth of large corporations and the long-term welfare of the populations they serve. He sees them doing this in their capacity as the new global investors by demanding transparency from, and actively managing their shareholdings in, corporations.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting analysis of corporate hegemony 17 Aug 2001
By David Reid - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Robert Monks is the world's highest profile shareholder activist. The subtitle of his book, "How shareowners can unlock sustainable prosperity worldwide" gives some hint about its content. Monks calls for greater corporate accountability and returning the control of corporations to shareholders. He argues that the separation between control and ownership of corporations has lead to the death of corporate social responsibility.
This insight is a powerful one. For while it has become clear that the power of transnational corporations often exceeds that of national governments, exactly who controls that power? The corporation embodies a life of its own and the corporate managers are accountable to no one. Monks sets out to explain how such a state of affairs came about.
Beginning with the first East India Trading companies Monks charts the rapid rise of the corporation to its present dominant position in our society. He identifies the discontent with multinational corporations most outwardly expressed at protests in Seattle and Prague, but also observes that this feeling of discontent is shared by many traditional supporters of capitalism. He makes reference to his home state of Maine where people have been left behind by "corporatization". People living in the traditional way have become impoverished both in spirit and in means. Yet he fails to extend these observations beyond the borders of the USA to the Third World.
Monks sees a class of institutions that he labels as Global Investors, which are the public and private pension funds in the US, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and Japan, as being the key to unlocking the power of ownership in corporations. Pension funds represent the interests of individuals who will typically retire in about twenty years and the interests of these individuals are to live in a safe, morally just world.
There is no great difference between the interests of shareholders and the interests of society so, as Monks puts it, "Ownership involvement can provide a valuable 'creative tension' disciplining corporate energy to be compatible with needs of society." He believes that activism (by shareholders) can actually add value to and improve corporations. He cites Ford as an example of a company where the owners have maintained an interest in controlling the company with some positive outcomes. Although I would suggest that while the business practices of Ford might be better than some of their competitors, this does not necessarily mean they are good per se. The problem is that the activism of shareholders will always maintain some level of self-interest, in contrast to the grassroots activist whose motivation will be more altruistic.
My main criticism of the book is that while it provides a strong critique of corporate capitalism it fails to go further in its critique of the capitalist paradigm. However, as an attack on corporate hegemony this book provides an interesting analysis.
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