as an Impact Investor
as a Social Change Maker
as an Engaged Citizen
as an Enterprise Leader
as a Fiduciary Steward
as a Finance Professional
as a Student of the Economy
empowering prudent stewardship to keep us moving towards fundamental fairness
discovering the power of investment as a point of inflection for directing the economy towards a collaboratively co-created prosperity of adaptively evolving sufficiency, shared sufficiently in patterns that are uneven, but not unfair
in patterns that are
uneven, but not unfair
What if this is truly what the economy is, how it works, and why, sometimes, it doesn’t?
We are born into a world not of our own making.
We are empowered with the ability to inquire into how this world into which we are born works, and to learn how to take this world about us as we find it, and change it to be more a way we choose to make it.
We put learning into action changing the world about us to make it be more a way we choose to make it through enterprise that requires a concentration of the efforts of multiple people.
The concentration of efforts through enterprise produces a surplus of the artifacts (in the anthropological meaning of the word, as “the work of human hands”) of that effort.
One group of people who concentrate their efforts in one enterprise to collaboratively co-create a surplus of the artifacts of some learning can exchange those surpluses with surpluses collaboratively co-created by other people who concentrate their own efforts in other enterprises for putting other learning into action.
Through the concentration of effort and the exchange of surpluses many people working together can live better than any one of us can “going it alone”.
This concentration of effort and exchanging of surpluses is the uniquely human way of being in a world that we did not make, but we do reshape, that we call an economy.
The economy is always changing, as times change, and people evolve prosperous adaptations to life’s constant changes, collaboratively co-creating and exchanging new surpluses that are more fit to changing times through inquiry, insight and new learning.
Prosperity as the social state of being when the economy is functioning correctly.
Prosperity is always provisional, sufficient to its time, but needing to change as times change, and people evolve prosperous adaptation to life’s constant changes.
The concentration of effort on evolving prosperous adaptations to life’s constant changes is an enterprise that needs money.
When enterprise needs money, finance provides it.
Finance functions correctly by aggregating surpluses saved by individuals for a shared purpose and deploying those aggregations into enterprises that align with that purpose.
Finance dysfunctions incorrectly when it deploys aggregations of saved surpluses into enterprises that are not aligned with the purpose for which those surpluses are being saved.
When finance functions correctly, the prevailing patterns of concentration for the making and sharing of surpluses are sufficient to their times, the people prosper, and there is peace.
When it does not, there is no peace.
We have this choice. We can choose peace. Or, we can choose non-peace.
We choose peace.
Finance today is dysfunctioning incorrectly. We do not have peace.
That is because we have pensions and endowments endowed with size, with purpose and with time as stewards of society’s surpluses saved to provide ourselves with sufficiency in retirement, in education and in philanthropy who are not aligning the savings we are entrusting to their good judgement with enterprise correctly.
Look closely at what our pensions and endowments are doing with the size, purpose and time we have entrusted to their good judgment.
Social Change Makers
this is what is missing
the right values at the right time
a new philosophy for prosperity
a new form of legal contract for investment
a new vocabulary for controlling the economy
a new social structure for financial intermediation
Students of the Economy
Join us in a search for new learning about the values we need to be valuing through stewardship of society’s savings for sufficiency that takes us on a journey into new learning about much more than just the values that we can and should be valuing.
restoring function to finance
by helping stewardship align with enterprise correctly
Pensions & Endowments
evergreen core, llc is working at the creative edge of new learning about investment in enterprise as a powerful point of inflection for driving the economy and society, correctly and functionally, towards peace, OR, incorrectly and dysfunctionally, towards non-peace.
Our learning is, at its core, a technical answer to this technical question asked by pensions and endowments as stewards of society’s savings for sufficiency against life’s uncertainties:
“How can I generate adequate cash flows, forever?”
Generating cash flows forever opens up the existential questions of what will ‘forever’ look like, and how can stewardship investment best contribute to the making of a ‘forever’ that is worth flowing into.
As we pull on these existential threads about what stewardship investing can and should be doing, we find ourselves radically, in the Latin sense of “going to the root”, re-thinking much of what we think we know about prosperity and the economy.
Through this radical re-thinking we find ourselves:
constructing three new frameworks for seeing the correct design of investment contracts fit to the purposes of prudent stewardship:
that can be put into action through four new processes for forensically deconstructing how investment is currently working, creatively designing investments that will work better, socially including all in the design for prudence and existentially engaging in imagining the future as we want it to be; and
creating seven new possibilities for people to participate in making our world as we want it to be.
where “adequate” means sufficient to keep an actuarial risk pool (or equivalent) correctly full, and flowing
seeing the possibilities
for doing finance differently
adaptively evolving the right new form of contract for correctly aligning savings and spending through investment in enterprise
collaboratively co-creating a new prosperity of peace through sufficiency sufficiently shared in patterns that are uneven, but not unfair
restoring correct function to an incorrectly dysfunctioning financial system
responding to a need that is also an opportunity
new frameworks, new processes,
new places and new people
for aggregating society’s surpluses saved to provide sufficiency against life’s uncertainties and deploying those aggregations into enterprises that are socially contracted to deliver constancy in popular learning through investment contracts that are focused on Regeneration
investment is the new point of inflection
We control the economy through our vocabulary.
This is because vocabulary is words that have meaning – text in context – through which we form agreements among people.
The economy is just a network of these agreements among people formed through the use of a shared vocabulary.
So in this sense, the economy is just words, and the actions people take in consequence of the words that we speak – text in context – agreement reached through a shared vocabulary.
Today, our economy is controlled by a vocabulary of Growth, which is so 19th Century, and no longer really fit to the context of our times.
evergreen is adaptively evolving a more modern 21st Century vocabulary for controlling our economy, a vocabulary of Peace that is more fit to the context of our times.
Many people will find this new vocabulary powerfully empowering.
Here are a few.
Fix a broken system – 1
let’s exit to evergreen
starting the movement of stewardship onto Main Street, and returning Wall Street to the individual investor it was created by design to serve
moving from this…
setting stewardship – and society – free from the tyranny of the trading tape
How can individuals investing for impact effect positive social change in a market that is dominated by institutions investing for benchmarks?
Here are two ways we can engage with this reality.
- We can work to make institutions invest for abandon benchmarks for impact.
- We can work to get institutions out of markets that were created by design for individuals.
We choose 2.
Impact investing is a powerfully important way for us individuals, especially wealthier individuals and large family offices, to influence the values that are valued by enterprise today. But impact investing as it is currently being done today is sort of shoveling against the tide. It feels like ESG and SDGs are making progress when the tide is going out, but they all too often just get washed away when the tide comes back in.
The “tide” is the incessant demand of Wall Street for constant growth in share price. That one value trumps all other values that a public company may want to value. As long as share price is going up, Wall Street is happy to let public companies value whatever social values they want to value. If share price does not go up, however, the public corporation gets punished in the markets – no matter the other good things that they may be doing.
This accountability to share price is especially difficult for Impact Investing to work against today, because today’s markets are dominated by professional asset managers managing trading positions for institutional asset owners who are caught up in the Wall Street dynamic of always driving share price – or portfolio value – or Net Asset Value – up.
There is another way. We can take our so-called institutional asset owners – the stewards of society’s shared savings for sufficiency against life’s uncertainties – our pensions and endowments, mostly – out of this Wall Street trading in derivatives (all tradable shares are derived from the underlying physical enterprises that are owned inside the corporations that issues those shares for trading) market, where they are a primary contributing factor to many of the bad impacts that Impact Investing is designed to have an impact on, and move them over to Main Street, where they can invest in enterprise directly, and not speculate derivatively.
In this new way, Impact Investors become “the first penguins in”, supporting enterprise in the formative moments of a new idea, whether that is the idea to start an enterprise, or maybe the idea to move an enterprise currently financed through the Wall Street social structure for trading in securities derived from enterprise, in a new time-series partnership form of financing that has different forms of financial intermediation financing the same enterprise at different times, through different forms of contract for investment, as the enterprise makes its own happy history of optimizes the flourish – and eventual fading – of its social contract with popular choice.
The “exit” in this new model for early-in Impact Investors may still be the public markets. Or, it could be a take-out by stewardship at stabilization.
We call this “exiting to evergreen”.
We think it is the future of both Impact and Stewardship investing.
examine the details
Social Change Makers
Make change happen – 2
let’s put pressure on finance to care
discover with us the power of financial intermediation as a Moral Compass driving enterprise towards peace (or non-peace)
infusing values by agreeing budgets
negotiated agreement on strategies, possibilities and priorities between enterprise and stewardship investment
shaped through civic engagement with community standards of fiduciary prudence
The two most popular theories of social change today are social shaming and regulation.
Most campaigns for change either target public awareness or government action. Some target public awareness to call for government action.
A less popular theory of change seeks to put pressure on investment. This theory is less popular because it is less powerful. The simple truth is that there are not a lot of ways that investment as it is conducted today can be made into a force for positive social change.
That is because we have given our permission to Wall Street to take over almost every aspect of investing today. In common parlance today, enterprise IS the corporation and investing IS trading in shares and other securities on public or alternative private securities trading markets.
What if we revoke that permission? What if we set Wall Street back to doing what Wall Street was designed to do: aggregate savings from individuals opportunistically to invest in enterprise operating at scale, idiosyncratically, in markets for trading shares that are designed for individuals and include professionals only as a mechanism for keeping the individual markets functioning correctly (in the parlance of the profession, keeping those markets liquid)?
That would set pension and endowments free from the tyranny of the trading tape, empowering them to use their size, their purpose and their time to negotiate with enterprise on Main Street, directly. What might they negotiate? Values. The social values of fundamental fairness. Fair trade. Fair dealing. Fair taxes. Fair government. Fairness in all the diverse ways that enterprise engages with society.
How will these newly empowered stewards know what is fair?
You can help.
examine the details
Find your voice, and use it – 3
let’s talk about our future as we need, want and expect that it should be made to be
Join with us in collaboratively co-creating and adaptively evolving The Hypothetical Reasonable Person
Finance and investing as it is currently practice today is not a particularly inviting place for regular folks to share our views about what the economy is, how it works and what it can and should be made to be.
Many people may be inclined to agree that investing today is little more than a casino, in which “you place your bets, and take your chances”.
Doesn’t really do much good to talk to a roulette wheel about the good things that can happen in the ball lands on 22 Red!
Most of us who care about these things concentrate our efforts on politics, and governance, because there at least we have a voice that we can make heard by our vote, at the ballot box, and by our donations to causes and campaigns, and by our personal participation in protests and movements, when things get that bad.
Tomorrow, there is going to be another way.
Through evergreen core campaigns, we are beginning the process of organizing macro projects in macro centers as fiduciary spaces that are safe places for co-creative collaboration between enterprise, stewardship investment and the community in adaptively evolving the common wisdom of The Hypothetical Reasonable Person as the standard of fiduciary prudence that guides our superfiduciaries in negotiating investment contracts with enterprise directly.
This is revolutionary.
Like the American Revolution in politics, through which we created for ourselves the right to vote. Only in finance, not government.
Going forwards, we will all have the right – and the responsibility – to ask ourselves, “Do we have the right economy?”. And to share with each other our views on what we each believe the “right” economy can and should be made to be. That is because there will be a place we all can go – in person, sometimes, and on-line all the time, to make our voices heard in shaping the shared wisdom of The Hypothetical Reasonable Person to whom the law looks as the standard for superfiduciary prudence.
That place, at least on-line, is here.
Come to evergreencore.org and scroll through our growing portfolio of evergreen core campaigns. Follow those campaigns you are about as we organize Macro Projects in university or other open-to-the-public macro centers that become fiduciary spaces as safe places for civic engagement in figuring out what The Hypothetical Reasonable Person thinks about the prudence of a proposed stewardship investment in a planned evergreen enterprise. Sign up to participate, remotely, or in person, when those Macro Projects happen.
Prepare to participate effectively by learning the new vocabulary of evergreen prudent stewardship investment. You can Learn the Skills, or wander through The Reasons Why. Even read our Manifesto. On-line or as a pdf.
examine the details
True-To-Values Enterprise Leaders
Stay in control of your business – 4
nobody thinks about your business like you do
but your investors should
Should you exit to evergreen?
Can you avoid the public markets, entirely?
Using the right form of investment contract with right form of financial intermediary at the right time to correctly match the purposes of savings being aggregated to finance your enterprise with the values you need to be valuing at that point in the flourish and fade of your social contract with popular choice.
examine the details
Stewards of Pensions and Endowments
Become a super fiduciary – 5
why be an ordinary fiduciary, when you can be a superfiduciary
use the size, the purpose and the time that society has invested in you to invest equity into enterprise on Main Street, directly
In the current way these things are being done, your job as a fiduciary is to hire the best professional portfolio managers you can.
Professional portfolio managers are expert at picking price points at which to buy or sell securities trading in the securities trading markets.
All the real creative work is done by the investment bankers working on Wall Street, who decide which securities will be created for trading.
Evergreen changes all that. It puts you, as the fiduciary, in direct conversation with enterprise and the economy about what the future can be made to be.
examine the details
True-To-Values Finance Professionals
Find fulfillment in your job – 6
be authentically part of the process by which society decides what our future will be made to be
Make finance truly about moving towards a future of more that is better, for all
We know many professionals who went into finance because they wanted to be part of the noble process by which society decides what new learning for evolving prosperous adaptations to life’s constant changes can, should and will be put into action through enterprise. We also know many who have discovered that this is really not what happens in finance as it has come to be practiced today. By changing the way finance gets done, evergreen is creating the possibilities you want to be a part of, for moving society towards a future of more that is better, for all.
examine the details
Students of the Economy
Bring Economics into the 21st Century – 7
the economy is history
Read the evergreen MANIFESTO!
Conventional wisdom about how the economy works explains how the economy used to work. Times have changed. We must adapt. We must evolve new learning about how the economy is working TODAY!
examine the details
we are largely creating these
problems for ourselves by the way
we are investing our savings
how can we change the way
we invest our savings to stop
creating these problems for ourselves
We are taught to believe that the economy is about scarcity, and that the purpose of investment is to allocate scarce resources
but what if
the economy is really about surpluses and the purpose of investment is really to aggregate our saved surpluses and deploy them into enterprise for making more surpluses
investment really works this way
we save our surpluses for a purpose
we entrust our saved surpluses to financial intermediaries who we believe are aligned with our purpose
financial intermediaries invest the saved surpluses they aggregate from all of us into enterprises they believe are valuing values that align with their purpose
when everything lines up as it should,
the economy prospers
when everything does not line up,
the economy falters
which tells us, if we are willing to hear, that things are not lining up quite right today
just asking this question required us to engage with some new learning about saving surpluses for a purpose, and aligning purpose with values through financial intermediaries investing our savings in enterprise
finding the right answer to this question will require even more new learning about saving and investing and financial intermediation, about how the economy actually works and about how we can change the way the economy is now (not) working to make it work more a way we want it to be working
we save for different reasons reflecting different purposes for which we might need to spend at some unknown future point in time
caring for our own
caring for others
public structures for safety and security
opportunistic wealth creation
programmatic provision of sufficiency against life’s uncertainties
we spend on different choices choosing what feels to be the best fit to function at the time, as function changes over time, as times change, and we, as people, evolve prosperous adaptations to life’s constant changes through inquiry, insight and the collaborative co-creation of new learning about how the world about us works, and how we can change the way the world does work, to make it work more a way we chose to make it work
visualizing the economy as a hive plot of connections between people and places for collaboratively co-creating and sharing surpluses through enterprise and exchange for putting learning into action taking the world about us as we find it, and changing it to be more a way we choose to make, a hive plot that is constantly being reconfigured and expanded over time as times change, and people evolve prosperous adaptations to life’s constant changes through inquiry, insight and the invention of new learning that empowers new earning that empowers new spending that empowers new saving that empowers new investing in yet more new learning, forging new connections that are more fit to function and more right for their times, and letting previously popular connections fade into history
that means that every enterprise
as a physical coming-together of people to put learning into action collaboratively co-creating surpluses that can be used by others to take the world about them in some particular way and change it to be more the way they choose to make it, enters into a social contract with popular learning about what is most fit at the time, a contract that changes over time, as times change, and people evolve prosperous adaptations to life’s constant changes, making popular new surpluses, the new learning of how to make those new surpluses, and the new enterprises expert at putting that new learning into action making those new surpluses, and
letting previously popular surpluses, the learning of how to make those surpluses, and enterprises expert in that learning, fade into history
logically, a recurring cycle of prosperous adaptation to life’s constant changes
existentially, an historical flow of the flourish and fade of popular choice in learning as times change, and people evolve new learning in prosperous adaptation to life’s constant changes
as enterprise rides this flourish and fade of popular learning about what fits best at different times, it values different values
inspiration from new learning
inclusion in new learning
affordance, in the design sense of giving others the ability to see directly, and correctly, the possibilities for putting new learning into action
economies of scale
The correct functioning of financial intermediation is to construct investment contracts only with those enterprises that are at that point in the history of their social contract with popular learning about what fits best at the time when they are valuing values that align with the purposes of the savings entrusted by us to those financial intermediaries
not to construct investment contracts before their time
not to continue investment contracts beyond their time
So, what is the right time for the right form of financial intermediation to use the right form of investment contract to invest in enterprise valuing the right values?
different forms of financial intermediaries aggregate savings saved for different purposes
when each different form of financial intermediary enters into its own unique form of investment contract with enterprises valuing the different values that popular learning values at different points in their social contract,
the economy functions correctly
there is a form of investment agreement that is missing today
Can you find the missing form?
Can you find the missing form?
there is today
no form of investment contract
that is focused on Regeneration
we need to design one
real estate can show us the way
Institutional real estate finance sees every building or complex as its own enterprise, designed to generate cash flows through rents over time. These enterprises are not incorporated. Instead, they are organized as limited partnerships (or limited liability companies).
The primary partnership is between the developer (enterprise leader) and the institutional investors (stewards).
Three basic agreements are reached:
- one during the construction, or build-out period;
- another during the initial operating or payback period;
- a third during the remainder of the buildings service live, or residual period.
During construction, the build-out is usually financed by bank debt in the form of a construction loan, secured by real estate mortgages, construction contracts and a commitment from institutional equity to “take-out” the construction loan at completion of construction and stabilization of the rent rolls.
At stabilization, institutional investors – mostly life insurance companies, but also, increasingly, pensions and endowments, what we call stewards of society’s savings for sufficiency – provide the enterprise with the equity needed to repay the construction loan (mortgage lending is commonly part of what is called the permanent financing). In exchange, the institutional investors get a priority call on rents after operating expenses (“OPEX”) and scheduled payments on the mortgage loans (“Debt Service”) – this is called “Free Cash Flow to Equity” – under a formula that usually sets the “cash sweep” to the investors very high until the original amount invested has been returned, stepping down but still remaining high until an agreed minimum preferred return – maybe 8% – is realized. After that the sharing often settles down to a ratable sharing – maybe 50/50. maybe 80/20, depending on many considerations unique to each enterprise – during the residual period.
This ratable sharing in residuals in evergreen, in the sense that it just keeps going, as long as the building continues in service, and until the building is sold and the partnership is dissolved. A sale may be opportunistic, or it may be associated with the need to do an overhaul as the property gets old and out-of-date.
If real estate can be financed in this way, through negotiated agreement on equity paybacks, why can’t every enterprise also be financed this way?
Real estate is an important part of every enterprise, because every enterprise has to have a place in which to operate. The difference is that not every enterprise is in the business of renting space. Most use space to collaboratively co-create artifacts of learning that they sell to customers for a price. Is that difference really much of a difference?
The real difference, maybe, is in the build out. A real estate enterprise is constructed and rented-up and then reaches stabilization. Other enterprises maybe are effectively constructed over time, as they grow through economies of scale to serve a larger, and larger customer base. At some point, however, growth in scale for every enterprise stabilizes. Its social contract with popular choice changes focus, from more availability through increasing efficiency, to constant consistency of supply of a known and familiar choice. This has to do with the development of the technology on which the enterprise is based.
What if we continued to use Wall Street to finance this period of Growth, during which an enterprise is optimizing its core technology, but then exit the securities trading markets as cash flows into the enterprise from a fully development technology offering stabilize, with stewardship investors providing the exit, through negotiated agreement on formula based sharing in ongoing cash flows?
What if we made it possible for stewardship to take out Growth equity at stabilization for every enterprise?
A real estate enterprise is designed primarily by the architects hired by the developers to visualize the spaces that will be rented to tenants. That is the strategy for the enterprise. Where will the building be built? What kind of building will be built? What will the building look like? What amenities will it provide? What impact will it have on the surrounding community?
Next, there is the construction schedule that generates a construction schedule (including rent-up to stabilization) and a capital expense (or CAPEX) budget. The architects visualizations, together with the engineer’s construction schedule and the developers CAPEX budget define the possibilities for the scale and longevity of the rental income the contemplated building or complex can be expected to generate over time.
Then the finance professionals can get business working out a plan to pay for the building that contemplates accessing different sources of financing at different points in time. Initial development is almost always financed by the developer out of their own funds and friendly investors. Depending on the details of the project, their may be grants included from philanthropy or various contracts, concessions or subsidies from government. Actual construction (CAPEX) is commonly funding by borrowing from banks. A combination of mortgage debt and institutional equity (as above), both looking to cash flows from rents for repayment, take out the construction loan at stabilization. Each source of funding has its own priority priorities for sharing in the value being created by the enterprise.
Other enterprises can be designed in a similar way. First, there is a strategy to be worked out. The the possibilities for scale and longevity must be imagined. Then priorities can be agreed for sharing in the value created by the enterprise.
Every strategy will be a more or less detailed visualization of the core relationships that define every enterprise for generating cash flow over time, whether real estate or other.
What is the learning being put into action by the enterprise, collaboratively co-creating artifacts that will be valued by others, who will pay a price to acquire rights those artifacts, generating the cash that then flows through the enterprise?
What will the artifacts of that learning be? What will they look like? How will they function? How will they be made and delivered to buyers?
Who will buy those artifacts? How often? How much will they pay? What else will they need in order to be satisfied with each purchase, so that a social contract forms between the enterprise and popular choice that will grow over time, and stabilize in the fullness of time?
What people will the enterprise need to include in order to manage the different processes that must be process to put learning into action, earning cash from customers?
What consumables will be needed, and who will supply them? On what terms?
How will government and the community be needed to support the enterprise, and how will the enterprise be regulated by government and the community?
What space, equipment, machinery processes and other such artifacts of other people’s learning will the enterprise need or want to use in putting its own learning into action generating cash flows?
Every enterprise needs money. Finance provides it? We call the money that finance provides to enterprise capital. How will the enterprise get the capital it needs?
As the answers to these and other such questions are arrived at, and the enterprise strategy takes shape, budgets can be built for CAPEX and also for operating expense (OPEX), and possibilities for scale and longevity can be articulated.
Once a strategy is visualized and the possibilities are worked out, priorities can be agreed.
Agreeing priorities means agreeing values, both fiscally and physically, to align the enterprise correctly with itself, with its community and their institutions, with society more generally, and with the planet on which we all live.
Visualizing the possibilities for scale and longevity of enterprise cash flows over time requires seeing that enterprise as part of the larger world around us, and the economy we collaboratively co-create as we take the world about us as we find it and change it to be more a way we choose it make it, an economy that we adaptively evolve over time, as times change, and we evolve prosperous adaptations to life’s constant changes through inquiry, insight and new learning.
New learning empowers new earning. New earning empowers new spending. New spending empowers new saving. New saving empowers new investing. New investing empowers yet more new learning, that empower new earning, new spending, new saving, new investing and yet more new learning in a logical cycle of prosperous adaptation that is open-ended, ongoing, self-regenerating, and in that sense, evergreen.
Existentially, as this logical cycle reiterates over time, we get at the level of the individual enterprise the flourish and fade of popular choice, as the social contract between enterprise and popular choice takes shape with the Inspiration of what new learning can make possible and builds with Inclusion of more people in the work of realizing those possibilities and the Affordance of those possibilities to others (in the design sense of that word, as affording to others the ability to see directly, and correctly, what they can do with the artifacts of that learning), generating Profits through commercial exchange and Growth through economies of scale, until Constancy is reached when the learning is fully realized and generally accepted as the best fit to function in its time.
At the overall level of the economy, this gives us a pattern of changing choices over time, as new learning makes new choices that are more fit to current times popular, so that previously popular choices fade into history.
Good stewardship must have the courage to look out into this constantly changing, adapting, evolving and expanding mix of choices that is the network architecture of the economy to see how history is likely to be made, and to agree its priorities for participating in enterprise so as not to be caught at disadvantage when times change, new learning creates new possibilities for new choices, and the social contract between enterprise and popular choice shifts from flourish to fade.
The fiduciary duties of prudent stewardship are both fiscal and existential.
A good steward generates adequate cash flows, forever, by investing to collaboratively co-create a ‘forever’ that is worth flowing into.
What is adequate fiscally is determined by what is required to keep the actuarial risk pool correctly full and flowing.
We begin with pensions as the paradigm for stewardship of society shared savings for sufficiency. In the case of a pension, society is saving to provide sufficiency against life’s uncertainties in retirement. A pension uses the mathematics of statistics, probability and the Laws of Large Numbers to socialize across a statistically significant population of statistically similar individuals the costs of living too long, that is the cost of living after retirement for regular earning.
The core of a pension is an actuarial risk pool of cash that is constantly flowing into and out of the pool. Cash flows into the pool from two “faucets” and out of the pool through two “drains”. The “facets” include current contributions for current worker earnings plus current contributions from current investment earnings. The “drains” include current expenses for operating to pool and current payouts of current benefits to current retirees. The pension works correctly when it correctly balances cash flows in from worker and investment earnings against cash flows out to operating costs and current benefits. Because pensions are built on the Laws of Large Numbers, all other things being equal, the larger the numbers, the better it works. So the actuarial risk pools of savings for pensions get very, very large, as sources of investment in the economy.
Life insurance works like a pension in the obverse. Both are actuarial risk pools that use the Laws of Large Numbers to socialize costs. Both have two faucets and two drains that have to be kept in balance. But where pensions provide protection against the uncertainties of living too long, insurance provides protection against the uncertainties of dying too soon.
Endowments are not technically actuarial risk pools, but they function in a similar way, generating earnings through investment to generate cash adequate to fund their mission without spending down their endowment. That is what lets them keep pursuing their mission.
What is prudent, existentially, is determined by reference to The Hypothetical Reasonable Person
The Hypothetical Reasonable Person is a fiction created in the law as an expression of common wisdom about what is prudent under any particular set of circumstances. It is what the lawyers call a question of fact, this question of what is properly prudent. It is not a question of law. The legal fact of common wisdom is The Hypothetical Reasonable Person.
Since 1972, the law of fiduciary duty has heard The Hypothetical Reasonable Person tell it that portfolio diversification (according to the principles commonly referred to as Modern Portfolio Theory) is a properly prudent way for pensions and other stewards to invest the savings of society entrusted to their good judgement. Having decided that portfolio diversification is a proper standard of prudent stewardship, The Hypothetical Reasonable Person has nothing more to say. That is because it takes specialized expertise to build and maintain a properly diversified portfolio. So, there is nothing more for common wisdom to add. It is now all up to the professionals.
We now have 40 years of experience with portfolio diversification as the standard for fiduciary prudence. The results are uneven, at best. We can see that investing stewardship funds as equity in the economy is good for the economy, for society and for society’s shared savings. We can also see that investing indirectly and derivatively, through Wall Street, is not. What we are getting is:
- inflated prices;
- inadequate cash flows;
- misalignments of incentives;
- miscreant market manipulations;
- social and environmental depredations; and
- rapidly accelerating cycles of equity asset pricing booms that go bust with increasing frequency, and increasingly catastrophic consequences for society, the economy, peace and prosperity.
It is time for The Hypothetical Reasonable Person to revisit the prudence of portfolio diversification, and to see, instead that pensions and other stewards have the size, the purpose and the time it takes to negotiate with enterprise on Main Street, directly. They do not have to invest indirectly, and derivatively, through Wall Street. Since they can, they should. It will be better. We can see that when we look at real estate.
This creates a regular place for The Hypothetical Reasonable Person in the negotiation of these investments, especially in mapping out the possibilities for scale and longevity. There are no professionals who are any more expert than anybody else in knowing when the times are going to change, or how the economy is going to evolve prosperous adaptations to those changes. We all have a right and a responsibility to contribute our own opinions to the formation of a common consensus about what it is prudent to expect. That is probably the best we can achieve.
We need a new process for including people in the building of consensus on change, and expected adaptations to change, and we new places for executing those processes.
We need fiduciary spaces that are safe places for people to come together and share their views, debate their differences, and reach – or not – a consensus on what The Hypothetical Reasonable Person has to say to our supefiduciary stewards about the prudence of their expectations for enterprise cash flows over time.
This is what we call an evergreen Macro Project. It features a proposal from enterprise that is presented in text and images in an exhibition hall or other physical space where prospective investors, engaged citizens and other interested parties can learn the story that the enterprise believes will become its history. The elements of these stories told in physical space can also be shared as digital artifacts in digital space.
We propose hosting these Marco Projects in macro centers to be built within universities around the world, so that elements of each story can by curated by academic authorities to help guide prospective stewardship investors, engaged citizens and other interested parties in forming their views on the possibilities as perceived by the enterprise.
In these macro centers, we envision bringing student learners in to learn by teaching in charettes curated by faculty that give student learners the opportunity to present what it is they think they know about the possibilities, locally and remotely, to the enterprise leaders and their advisors, to prospective stewardship investors, to engaged citizens and to other interested parties, who can critique constructively the learning the students are sharing with them.
Salons outside the formal spaces can continue the conversation more informally.
The end result of these proceedings is a consensus opinion of what The Hypothetical Reasonable Person has to say about a stewardship investment in the enterprise as proposed.
If The Hypothetical Reasonable Person says the investment seems properly prudent, negotiation of final details can be completed by the parties, in confidence, outside the event.
a macro project is the second, or middle, step in a three step process for constructing a prudent stewardship investment in enterprise, directly
Civic engagement in evergreen Macro Projects for adaptively evolving The Hypothetical Reasonable Person as an expression of a collaboratively co-created community standard for prudence to guide stewardship investors in constructing evergreen equity split investments with enterprise shows us the power of financial intermediation as a Moral Compass for directing enterprise and the economy, functionally and correctly, towards peace, or dysfunctionally and incorrectly, towards non-peace. We see how each form of financial intermediation values the values it is designed to value in enterprise. We see that when the right form of financial intermediation valuing the right values in enterprise at the right point in the social contract between enterprise and popular choice, the economy functions correctly, and there is both prosperity and peace. We see that when financial intermediation values the wrong values in enterprise at the wrong time, the economy dysfunction incorrectly, and there may be prosperity, but there will not be peace.
This tells us, also, that if there is not peace in society and the economy, then financial intermediation is functioning incorrectly and dysfunctionally in some important way.
It also tells us that if we can restore financial intermediation to its correct functioning, we can put society and the economy back on a path towards peace.
this is why
Our presently popular philosophy of prosperity through the pursuit of unlimited Growth is built on two contradictory theories of place. One is a belief in scarcity, as in “the purpose of markets is to allocate scarce resources”. The other is a belief in an infinitely receding horizon for industrial expansion, out of which we can always take more, and into which the consequences of our taking will disappear, without consequence. The first theory breeds fear (“what if there is not enough”) and greed (“if there is not enough for all, then I want to make sure that I get mine”). The second theory breeds a sense of self-righteousness and impunity (“I can and should externalize all my costs, because when I externalize them, nobody has to pay!”).
Imagine an economy and society built on fear, greed, self-righteousness and impunity. It won’t be hard. That is the economy and society were are living in right now, today. In the USA.
Both of these conflicting theories of place, as scarce, and as infinite, are mythical, in that they are both built upon a kernel of truth that gets wrapped up in a whole lot of nonsense. Yes, there is a limited amount of stuff in the world about us. But there is no limit that we have yet discovered to human learning, ingenuity and creativity in figuring out how to use the stuff we are given to make our world be more a way we choose to make it. Yes, the world into which we are born is vast, but there are consequences to our actions, and if we do not take care of those consequences, there will be a reckoning.
the only thing we truly have to fear today
is that we will stop learning how to evolve and adapt, so that we will be crushed by the consequences of our own self-righteousness
These two truths about our experience of place are less mythical.
- We are born into a world not of our own making.
- We are empowered with the ability to figure out how the world about us works, and to use that learning
to take action to change the world about us as we find it to make it work more a way we choose to make it.
Learning about the world, and putting learning into action changing the world, are collaborative and co-creative activities. They always create a surplus of possibilities for making changes that exceed what we, ourselves, can use. We can share these surpluses with the surpluses that others collaboratively co-create through their own learning and acting. In that way, we can all live much better together than any one of us could live going it alone.
It is a complex business, this collaborative co-creation and sharing of surpluses. It requires concentrations of effort that are uneven, and produces patterns of sharing that are also uneven. The more rich and varied the learning is, the more uneven the patterns of concentration and sharing become. That unevenness itself is not a problem, as long as it does not become experienced as unfair. If we allow unevenness to become experienced by others as unfair, however, that does create a problem. The experience of unfairness breeds resentment. Resentment breeds anger. Anger breeds hostility. Hostility degenerates into conflict. Creating an unevenness that is unfair also creates a false prosperity of non-peace that cannot last. We create booms that eventually go bust.
The work of regulating unevenness, to keep it fair, is what we do through the value-recognizing social structures of financial intermediation. When this work is done correctly, we have a prosperity that is uneven, but not unfair, and there is peace. When this work is not done correctly, we have a prosperity of unevenness that is also unfair. There is non-peace.
Today, the work of financial intermediation is not being done correctly. We are collaboratively co-creating a prosperity that is both uneven and unfair. We are creating non-peace.
This is not our best
we can do better
this is how
for that we need a new vocabulary for talking about the economy
a term borrowed from the law and legal drafting, where it is used as jargon to refer to a contract that is open-ended and automatically self-renewing unless and until either or both of the parties decide to make a different choice, used to refer to the way the social contract between enterprise and popular choice is open-ended and self-renewing, until either the enterprise or the people decide to make a different choice, and also to investments in enterprise based on cash flow sharing agreements that are designed to be open-ended and automatically self-renewing, until either or both the investor and the enterprise decide to make a new agreement
the legal duty imposed on a person who holds title to money or other property for the benefit of a another person or persons with discretionary authority over the use of that money or property, to act with loyalty to their fiduciary purpose and also with proper prudence and competence, also, a person who is burdened with fiduciary rights and responsibilities regarding money or other property entrusted to their good judgement, to by used for the benefit of others
a contract between a financial intermediary and an enterprise for the use of money on terms for repayment, in money or other value
a physical coming-together of people for doing the work of putting learning into action creating surpluses that can be shared with others for taking the world about us as we find it, and changing it to be more a way we choose to make it