Despite the size of what has been termed the “Islamic Finance market” – currently in the range of $2 Trillion – and the expectation that it will, in coming years, continue to grow rapidly, many investors have little or no familiarity with it. Precisely what is meant by the phrase varies. It might be cast as finance, the understanding and practice of which is informed in some measure by “the Islamic narrative”; that is, accounts of the world and the place of people within and their relations to it drawn from the constellation of beliefs, commitments, and practices associated with Islam. The paper seeks to introduce investors to the potential relevance and significance of Islamic Finance for the decisions that they make. It does so through an exploration of views about the “real” in three related senses: prominent efforts, within the context of Western finance, to promote investment in so-called “real assets”; especially in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, concern about “financialization,” particularly as it pertains to ideas about and the relationships between a so-called “real economy” and a/the financial sector or sphere; and the importance of notions of the “real” which are quite prominent in characterizations of the conceptual underpinnings for and the practice of Islamic finance.
This paper examines unionism’s relationship to the size of the middle class and its relationship to intergenerational mobility. Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) 1985 and 2011 files are used to examine the change in the share of workers in a middle-income group (defined by persons having incomes within 50 percent of the median) and use a shift-share decomposition to explore how the decline of unionism contributes to the shrinking middle class. The files are also used to investigate the correlation between parents’ union status and the incomes of their children. Additionally, federal income tax data is used to examine the geographical correlation between union density and intergenerational mobility. Findings include that union workers are disproportionately in the middle-income group or above, and some reach middle-income status due to the union wage premium; the offspring of union parents have higher incomes than the offspring of otherwise comparable non-union parents, especially when the parents are low-skilled; and offspring from communities with higher union density have higher average incomes relative to their parents compared to offspring from communities with lower union density. These findings show a strong, though not necessarily causal, link between unions, the middle class, and intergenerational mobility.
This paper analyzes the role of establishments in the upward trend in dispersion of earnings that has become a central topic in economic analysis and policy debate. It decomposes changes in the variance of log earnings among individuals into the part due to changes in earnings among establishments and the part due to changes in earnings within establishments. The main finding is that much of the 1970s–2010s increase in earnings inequality results from increased dispersion of the earnings among the establishments where individuals work. Our results direct attention to the role of establishment-level pay setting and economic adjustments in earnings inequality.
China’s new Labor Contract Law took effect on January 2008 and required firms to give migrant workers written contracts, strengthened labor protections for workers and contained penalties for firms that did not follow the labor code. This paper uses survey data of migrant workers in the Pearl River Delta before and after the law and a retrospective question on when workers received their first labor contract to assess the effects of the law on labor outcomes. The evidence shows that the new law increased the percentage of migrant workers with written contracts, which in turn raised social insurance coverage, reduced the likelihood of wage arrears, and raised the likelihood that the worker had a union at their workplace.
The creation of S&T knowledge and development of S&T- based innovation has spread worldwide from traditionally advanced countries to traditionally developing countries, often under the direction of governments. Korea is an exemplar in this new locus.
Much attention has been given by pension funds and other institutional investors to governance and in some measure environmental considerations in their investment-related decisions, spurred by either by normative concerns and/or their impact on financial performance. However, very little has been done in the latter terms with respect to what are often termed social considerations, which include work-related matters. This publication represents an effort to begin to remedy that problem.
More particularly, of the many published studies of human capital policies, the paper examines 92 that focus on the links to corporate financial performance. A large majority of the studies – covering a period of two decades and encompassing dozens of countries and industries - reported positive correlations. The paper summarizes key aspects of the research, reviews the methods and approaches they employ, and discusses strengths of and limitations to the findings. Overall, the paper suggests that human capital management can be material to a company’s financial performance. It recommends the kinds of information which investors should seek – among them, about the array of a company’s human capital policies, their relationship to one another, and their link to the company’s business strategy, and measures outcomes and financial impacts – and companies should provide.
This paper has three main parts. First, we briefly explore arguments grounded in fiduciary duty (and others within the “shadow” of law) as well as others rooted in the real-world social, political, and other environment in which pension funds may operate which might justify why they might make or recognize such commitments.
Second, we explore in great depth how pension funds might proceed in those terms. We discuss the standards, criteria, etc. of which pension funds might take to take account or apply. But we suggest that the major challenge relates to the systems, processes, capacities, resources, etc. which they have in place to ensure fulfillment of that commitment. In turn we describe and analyze the extensive experience in these terms of other major financial institutions, namely, international development finance institutions (DFIs), for example, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and somewhat similar national ones well that of the financial institution signatories (EPFIs) to what are termed the so-called Equator Principles (EP).
We then canvas important “cross-cutting issues”, ones which play out among many investors, for example, the matter of the relationship between how environmental and social considerations are addressed in investments and the financial performance of those investments. We also take a close look at practice relating to implementation of one aspect of standards involving social considerations, namely, labor-related standards. In addition, we draw on the relatively greater transparency of a large Dutch pension fund to offer some insights into how it goes about translating its commitments into action.
The last part of the essays distills from the preceding ones a series of “lessons learned.” That is, it offers recommendations as to what pension funds might need or want to think and then, what they might need or want to do should they choose to adopt standards relating to environmental and social considerations and, in turn, pursue a serious-minded effort to assure that those standards are met.
The focus of the paper is on retirement plans whose members derive financial claims directly or indirectly from financial investments made by them or by others on their behalf (as contrasted with what are termed “pay-as-you-go” plans). Central to the efficacy of funded plans are the roles and responsibilities of those with ultimate authority to make the required investment- related decisions and effective fulfillment of them by those to whom we refer to as “investment decision-makers”.) Although the matter of efficacy quite obviously is rooted in concern for sought-for outcomes for individual plan members there are also significant implications for the larger economy and society. Discussion with respect to those roles and responsibilities often falls in whole or part under the rubric of what is termed “fiduciary duty”; however, there are other important and related roles and responsibilities which occasion the choice of title for the paper.
More particularly, it considers key issues encompassed by discourse in India and the United States pertaining to fiduciary duty as they concern investment decision makers. In part the premise is that there can be much that each country can learn from the other in view of their different experiences in that regard. In part it is also in recognition of the fact that retirement plans in each country have made or may make investments in the other and that insofar as such investments might be mutually desirable having a sufficient understanding of how fiduciary duty shapes the expectations and channels the needs of plan members is critical to achievement of that shared goal.
In our view the available literature in these terms has been modest indeed so in a number of respects it has been unchartered territory. Moreover, the retirement systems in both countries are composed of a range of rather different kinds of plans, many of which have a rich and varied history and diverse associated institutions, policies, and practices the attributes of which are not immediately or readily made transparent or accessible, especially to those in another country.
With that in mind, this paper sets the stage for and makes an initial foray into debate in both countries in relevant terms, identifying key concepts and modes of thinking and implementation. We strive to flesh out the foregoing by an in-depth illustrative discussion of the issues as they relate to one important kind of plan within the retirement system of each country. We do so with any eye to structuring the analysis to establish the basis for an inquiry in a subsequent essay with not only potentially greater depth but also a broader reach in terms of the types of plans canvassed. In the concluding section of this paper we offer what might be termed observations but which may also be viewed as recommendations for others concerned with these issues, especially those with authority as to what fiduciary duty should entail. That being said we do so recognizing that given the distinctive experience of each country those observations (or recommendations) may have greater or less import or play out in a different way.
Globalization of scientific and technological knowledge has reduced the US share of world scientific activity; increased the foreign-born proportion of scientists and engineers in US universities and in the US labor market; and led to greater US scientific collaborations with other countries. China's massive investments in university education and R&D have in particular made it a special partner for the US in scientific work. These developments have substantial implications for US science and technology policy. This paper suggests that aligning immigration policies more closely to the influx of international students; granting fellowships to students working on turning scientific and technological into commercial innovations; and requiring firms with R&D tax credits or other government R&D funding develop "impact plans" to use their new knowledge to produce innovative products or processes in the US could help the country adjust to the changing global world of science and technology.