Sin and sorrow everywhere
People dying in despair
Happy Birthday to you; Happy Birthday to you.
When a kid, my grandfather gave me a crisp dollar bill for my birthday. It wasn’t about the money; it was about him. As a kid, I also heard theological and monetary snipes at the church, “All the church wants is my money”. This week, we are reminded that it is not all about the money; it is about the man.
Theological jargon (“sin”) may not be germane to your conversations. However, sorrow always evokes loss, stirs questions about what matters, and tears become our vocabulary. So, what does this have to do with the stock market? Funny you should ask.
Every corporation (profit or nonprofit) portrays its leadership. Corporate boards and officers may hide for a while behind press releases and balance sheets, but revelation ultimately casts beams of light on the board room, the office suite, and the sacristy.
Forbes magazine maintains a “Corporate Scandal Sheet” It lists twenty-two New York Stock Exchange corporations under current indictment for accounting “imbroglios”.
Their “sins” described: “…overstated results by inflating capital expenses and hiding debt”..
“Shredding documents…after the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) launched an inquiry….”
“Boosted profits and hid debts totaling over $1 billion….”
“Overstated $100 million in sales….”
The sorrow? Abject disappointment for investors, pension recipients, company employees (mail room clerks, janitors), children, and tax payers. It is about the money.
Proxy season busies me with reading and voting on behalf of clients. Proxy votes give authorization to the directors to “elect”, “approve”, and “ratify”. Shareholders submit proxy votes with confidence that the Board of Directors will act with integrity. Many don’t.
During 2003, under John Paul II’s direction, the Pope’s charity authorized $69 million dollars in expenditures to help allay the “grave difficulties caused by tensions and conflicts” around the world. Congregants give with confidence that the Pope’s Charity will act with integrity. He did.