7 min read

AI, AI, Oh!!

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Hi there!

Welcome to mid-January, the season when most of us are paying off our holiday debts while top executives rack up hefty expense reports for their travel to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Granted, they say it is no vacation (not that the skiing is any good this year anyway), as attendees typically spend their days in back-to-back meetings, but we’re not convinced.

Business leaders and heads of state gather annually in Davos to talk about the biggest issues facing the world — and that’s a pretty long list this year. Since we (and we’re guessing you) did not get an invitation, we’ve pulled together some of the highlights so far. A new WEF report describes our current period as a time of “polycrisis” — a cluster of related global risks with compounding effects. From inflation to rising carbon emissions, businesses are navigating a seemingly never-ending list of challenges. Yet some journalists report that CEOs are staying upbeat about the future, and WEF reminds us that impact investors have a key role to play in solving the world’s problems.

In addition to the WEF white paper, a slew of reports and announcements have been released from this elite conference that may be relevant as you research companies that align with your values. A few highlights:

  • Evolve or die: A PwC survey reports 40% of global CEOs think their organization will no longer be economically viable in ten years if it continues on its current course, emphasizing the need to reinvent businesses for the future.
  • Business pulls off a three-peat: For the third time, the Edelman Trust Barometer found that business is the only global institution that people view as both ethical and competent.
  • Boosting EV battery transparency: Working with battery makers and electric vehicle companies like Tesla and Audi, the Global Battery Alliance unveiled a pilot of its battery passport, a public site where consumers can compare batteries on criteria like the use of child labor in mining.

There’s a lot more happening this week outside of Davos. We highlight some other news below, including taking a deep dive into some of the companies embracing AI and how this could impact who and what you invest in.

News you can use

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  • The world’s largest asset managers are “blocking progress” on climate and social issues despite public commitments, per a new report on shareholder voting. For example, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street changing their vote from “no” to “yes” could have resulted in the addition of paid sick leave for all 270,000 employees at TJX department stores, disclosures from Amazon about employee rights to unionize, and net-zero targets from energy companies such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Valero. You may even be able to check out your own asset manager’s ESG voting performance.
  • While techies analyze the specs of Apple’s latest MacBook Pros, we’re reading the green highlights. Besides increased power efficiency, one-third of the 16-inch laptop is made from recycled materials (aluminum, rare earth elements, tin, gold, and plastic), and 97% of the packaging is fiber-based. Apple’s goal is zero plastic in its packaging by 2025.
  • Attention Type A personalities! The IRS will start accepting and processing 2022 tax returns on Monday, January 23. For the rest of you, there are three extra days to file this year since the deadline is April 18. If you own stocks and want to learn about the basics of filing taxes, our quick guide should help. Fortune has five ways you can prepare, including looking up tax credits on EV purchases or solar panel installations.
  • What’s in store for the economy in 2023? Financial firms say 🤔. A report from Goldman Sachs' Investment Strategy Group pegged the chance of a recession at basically 50/50 and warned of “heavy fog.” Meanwhile, in an article about big banks’ mixed fourth-quarter results, The Wall Street Journal quoted JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon as saying, “It may be a mild recession. It may not be.”

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