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Features - 21 August 2014

US Markets Respond Positively to FOMC Minutes

The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in July were the driving force behind fluctuations on Wall Street in the final hours of trading on Wednesday as investors absorbed the implications of the central bank holding back on raising interest rates for now. Stocks initially trimmed the day's gains, but rebounded soon after, with both the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 returning to positive territory before the end of the regular session on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 rose 4.91 points to finish at 1,986.51 (just short of its record close of 1,987.98 on July 24), while the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 59.54 points ending at 16,979.13, being an increase of 0.25 percent and 0.35 percent respectively. The Nasdaq Composite, on the other hand, dropped 1.03 points to close at 4,526.48, a decline of 0.02 percent.

Under the theme of "Re-evaluating Labor Market Dynamics", this weekend's Economic Symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will be attended by representatives from all twelve of the Federal Reserve's district banks, as well as visiting speakers from several foreign countries. Starting Thursday August 21, some of the world's most influential bankers and economists will gather to discuss a numbers of topics, including determining the role central banks should play when it comes to setting the nation's monetary policies.

Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, will be speaking on the topic of the labor market on Friday. It is anticipated that she will reaffirm her goal of using monetary policy to strengthen labor markets in the United States. As the Fed continues with its quantitative easing policy, the primary tool for boosting labor markets remains low interest rates. Yellen has been a strong advocate of low interest rates to assist US citizens in buying cars and homes, as well as offering businesses the opportunity to borrow money relatively inexpensively to expand, thereby creating jobs.

Other speakers at the Economic Symposium include Bank of England Deputy Governor Ben Broadbent, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, and Central Bank of Brazil Governor Alexandre Antonio Tombini.


Wall Street Banks to Resubmit Resolution Plans - 7 August 2014

When U.S. banks deemed too-big-to-fail were in danger of failing in 2008, the government stepped in and bailed these banks out, largely at the expense of taxpayers. The reasons for this unprecedented action, which raised a storm of protest from many quarters, were many, and the matter of accountability remains a much debated issue. In 2010 the Dodd-Frank act was passed in an attempt to strengthen regulation of large financial institutions and thereby avoid the necessity of government bailouts in the future. As part of the new regulations, banks were required to submit Resolution Plans, more commonly referred to as ‘living wills’, detailing strategies for going through the bankruptcy procedure in a controlled and orderly manner should this ever become necessary.


Components of Ethical Investment - 17 July 2014

The general perception that making money and ethical investment are mutually exclusive concepts has become outdated as many publicly traded companies take into account the expectations of increasingly ethical consumers and investors. Also, with investors being more aware of the need for transparency, companies are unlikely to get away with 'greenwashing' their products, services and strategies. Investors are in the position to influence companies to find ways to make money while doing what is best for the environment and society, and many are tapping into this advantage.


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