Social Governance Securities Exchange by EastCoastTransplants
Jul 10, 2013
A very interesting idea, but one that really hinges on the development of new industry-wide metrics and data collection protocols (and, in particular, beyond carbon footprint) to capture the range of social and environmental issues associated with industry, and, even more importantly, allow for credible comparisons between firms who engage in very different markets. Much work has been devoted to such metrics with limited success to date, and much more work is needed. An exchange such as that proposed by the team would be a great, but there were major questions about whether the approach is feasible and also about how companies could be encouraged to participate. The proposal could have provided more detail on how the metrics would be developed, since without robust metrics the exchange wouldn't be feasible. The team should continue refining their idea and propose some equally innovative ideas on the metrics side, with more specificity on the types of metrics beyond carbon footprint. There is also the consideration of life-cycle performance (i.e., a firm might have high emissions but its products lead to emissions reductions in the economy). Being able to make such distinctions would be critical to providing the right signals and rewards to firms. Also, the reach is very broad, since the proposed market would look at environmental and social responsibility. Creating environmental impacts in one area, like carbon, is a huge amount of work, and having such a broad scope could make the development of appropriate metrics so burdensome as to make the project unfeasible. Also, what would the cost be to participating companies? Why would companies want to do this? The incentive issues for all stakeholders could be worked out in a finer-grained way. The proposal is long term and big picture: the authors are thinking big, which is to be commended. But questions remain about whether this could get off the ground.