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CALIFORNIA CORPORATE & SECURITIES LAW

I’m Guessing That The DOL Didn’t Have in Mind Negative Weighing Of ESG Factors

In this post, I noted a recent study by Professor Tracie Woidtke at the University of Tennessee concluding that social-issue shareholder-proposal activism appears to be negatively related to firm value.  I therefore raised the question of whether the administrators of public pension funds, such as CalPERS and CalSTRS, breaches their fiduciary duty when making investments based on environmental, social and governance factors (ESG).

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued an interpretive bulletin, 80 FR 65135 (Oct. 26, 2015) that purports to clarify its position on whether ERISA fiduciaries may consider ESG factors.  According to the DOL, “Environmental, social, and governance issues may have a direct relationship to the economic value of the plan’s investment.”  I’m guessing that the DOL did not expect that the relationship might well be negative.

It Wasn’t All Greek To The Wall Street Journal

In recognition of Reformation Sunday last weekend, The Wall Street Journal published an Op-Ed by Joseph LaConte, “When Luther Shook Up Christianity” (October 29, 2015).  I was entirely nonplussed by Professor LaConte’s assertion “In 1516 – a year before Luther’s 95 Theses – Erasmus published his Greek translation of the New Testament, the first of its kind.”

Perhaps something was lost in translation.  The New Testament was originally written almost entirely in Greek.  Thus, there would have been no need or point in Erasmus publishing a “Greek translation” of the Gospels.  In fact, what Erasmus did was translate the Greek New Testament into classical Latin.  At the time, the Church used a Latin translation of the entire Roman Catholic Bible known as The Vulgate (“vulgate” means generally known).  The Vulgate, however, is a translation from the original languages (primarily Hebrew and Greek) into 4th century ecclesiastical Latin.  Erasmus’ contribution was to translate the Greek text into classical Latin with a goal of greater clarity and accuracy.

Incidentally, there is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible known as The Septuagint, which is the English version of its Greek title, Ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα.  The Greek title literally means the translation of the seventy.  According to the tractate Megillah of the Babylonian Talmud, 72 Jewish scholars independently produced the same translation.

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