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Thought Leadership

Advocacy and Impact January 2020

on Jan 31, 2020 4:54:39 PM By | Holly Testa | 0 Comments |
By Holly Testa  |  Download the PDF Proxy Voting Trends Our track record on proxy voting continues to contrast sharply with overall averages, as our proxy voting guidelines establish standards not typical within the mainstream investment community. We voted against over 40% of nominating committee board members due to lack of gender and racial diversity and against almost 50% of compensation committee board members due to their oversight and approval of excessive executive compensation.
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Market Commentary January 2020

on Jan 27, 2020 2:58:33 PM By | Theresa Gusman | 0 Comments | Market Commentary
Buy on the Rumor, Sell on the News By Theresa Gusman, Chief Investment Officer  |  Download PDF US equities continue to hit new highs. A 9.1% fourth quarter surge propelled the S&P 500 to a 31.5% increase in 2019 – and the index continues to advance. A mixed start to 2019 yielded to strong fourth quarter gains in international equity markets. The MSCI ACWI, Ex US index advanced 8.9% in the fourth quarter and 21.5% in 2019. Volatility diminished during the gradual climb in global equity prices. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, as of mid-January the stock market is in one of its longest historic streaks without a daily move of 1% or more. Amid the improving global economic and earnings backdrops, global markets look poised to continue to shrug off myriad geo-political risks and stretched valuations in the near term. As we move through the year and the election looms, we anticipate increased volatility in the US – which could provide a chance for international equity markets to stage a relative comeback.
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Economic Commentary January 2020

on Jan 22, 2020 12:04:52 PM By | Mel Miller | 0 Comments | Economy Stock Investing Economic Commentary
Civility On Hold By Mel Miller, CFA®, Chief Economist  |  Download PDF The current political environment turned even more toxic during the fourth quarter of 2019. One can only hope that historians will look back on 2019 as the low point of civility. President Trump, impeached in the House of Representatives, following partisan wrangling in what observers feel was the most toxic hearing in U.S. history. The septic environment has bifurcated groups and families making for tense Holiday gatherings. Judged by friendly Republicans, the President will likely prevail in the Senate.
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Affirmative Impact October 2019

on Nov 1, 2019 10:15:00 AM By | Holly Testa | 0 Comments | Affirmative Impact
Gun Violence: Are We Moving Beyond Thoughts and Prayers? By Holly Testa  |  Download the PDF Recent events give us hope that the answer is yes, even in the face of an unresponsive Senate. In the last few months we have seen significant developments: In the absence of viable federal legislation, state lawmakers have been taking action, with numerous states enacting new gun laws that strengthen background checks, increase age requirements and restrict magazine size and accessories that enhance rapid firing capability. New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy asked banks doing business in the state to disclose relationships with gun manufacturers and sellers. The U.S. House passed a bill that represents the first substantive attempt to enhance federal firearms regulation since 1994. Walmart terminated hand gun and short barrel rifle ammunition sales after a mass shooting killing 20 in one of their own stores. CEO Doug McMillon publicly asked for public policy action. 145 CEOs signed a letter asking the Senate to pass legislation mandating background checks for all firearms sales and to enact a strong red flag law.
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Market Commentary October 2019

on Oct 30, 2019 11:30:00 AM By | Theresa Gusman | 0 Comments | Market Commentary
In this issue: Global Market Highlights  |  Outlook - Climbing A Wall Of Worry...Until We Get To The Top  |  Quarterly Bond Market Overview Earnings and Economic Growth Decelerating, Valuations Stretched - Markets Rising? By Theresa Gusman, Chief Investment Officer  |  Download PDF US equities continue to hit new highs. After its best first half in 22 years, the S&P 500 posted a 1.7% gain in the third quarter. Global equity markets were mixed. Japanese, European and US equities rose in the third quarter, while non-Japan Asia and Emerging Markets declined, paring gains for the year. Volatility persisted during the quarter. Global equity markets advanced and declined along with trade tensions, Brexit news, and monetary easing amid slowing economic activity and continued low inflation. Despite the volatility, equity markets remain resilient, even as global growth slows, earnings growth decelerates sharply, and valuations are stretched.
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Economic Commentary October 2019

on Oct 28, 2019 5:02:37 PM By | First Affirmative | 0 Comments | Economic Commentary
Falling Leaves and Economy? By Mel Miller, CFA®, Chief Economist  |  Download PDF Fall is here.  As I watch leaves drifting down to the ground from my office window, I have to ask whether the economy will follow a similar pattern of slowly drifting lower.  The summer was a record-breaker in terms of rainfall here in Wisconsin as flooding captured the headlines.  The economy also is in the record-breaking territory, as the expansion is now the longest continuous expansion in history. 
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Economic Commentary June 2019

on Aug 8, 2019 12:53:48 PM By | First Affirmative | 0 Comments | Economic Commentary
Record Archived By Mel Miller, CFA® | Chief Economist Download PDF The US economy enters July having achieved the longest economic expansion in history. The economy reversed the contraction that began in July of 2004, starting at the end of the second quarter of 2009.
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Market Commentary June 2019

on Jul 31, 2019 12:29:08 PM By | Theresa Gusman | 0 Comments | Market Commentary
In this issue: Quarterly Performance Benchmarks  |  Global Market Highlights  |  Outlook – Climbing a wall of worry…Until we get to the top  |  Quarterly Bond Market Overview Download PDF Mixed signals: New Highs, Decelerating Earnings Growth, Stretched Valuations By Theresa Gusman US equities continue to hit new highs. The S&P 500 posted its best first half in 22 years, rising 18.5% through the end of June. Stock markets advanced worldwide, with developed and emerging international markets up 14.0% and 10.6%, respectively, year-to-date, and 3.7% and 0.6% in the second quarter. Volatility persisted during the quarter, with global equity markets rising and falling along with trade tensions -- until it became apparent that the Federal Reserve would be quick to reduce rates amid slowing economic activity and continued low inflation. Fresh highs come amid slowing global growth, sharply decelerating earnings growth and stretched valuations.
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Affirmative Impact June 2019

on Jul 25, 2019 4:01:54 PM By | Holly Testa | 0 Comments | Affirmative Impact
Finally: Significant Progress on Board Diversity By Holly Testa Download the PDF First Affirmative has seen frustratingly slow, but nevertheless steady progress when it comes to board diversity. Of note this proxy season were our successful withdrawals of board diversity proposals at Masimo and Cambrex after both companies took steps to revise nominating committee guidelines and improve their search process to enhance board diversity.
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Sustainable Investment Solutions Symposium: The View From Boston

on Jul 18, 2019 12:20:31 PM By | First Affirmative | 0 Comments |
You’ve probably noticed that the First Affirmative team has been on the road quite a bit over the last few months as we co-present the 2019 Sustainable Investment Solutions (SIS) symposium series. Last week we were in Boston for yet another great SIS event.
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