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Norway SWF Votes Down Paris Climate Targets at Shell Shareholder Meeting

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Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which oversees Norway Government Pension Fund Global, voted down a proposal put forward by some investors at Royal Dutch Shell’s annual general meeting calling on the company to set emissions targets in line with the Paris climate accords of 2015. The challenge was shot down by 94.5% of Shell shareholders at Tuesday’s proceedings. Its defeat was followed by a statement from the oil giant calling the resolution “unnecessary” in light of the firm’s plans revealed in November to halve its carbon footprint by 2050. Some investors believe Shell would be in a better position to set their own goals on addressing issues like climate change.

The US$ 1.1 trillion sovereign wealth fund – which is itself reliant on cash-streams from Norway’s hydrocarbon stores – announced last July it would be asking the banks in which it invests nearly a quarter of its equity assets to disclose how their lending contributes to greenhouse emissions, and is currently considering whether to drop its exposures in oil and gas companies constituting roughly 6% of its overall portfolio ahead of a parliamentary vote on the proposed policy change later this year.

The climate change motion was featured by 60 long-term institutional investors representing more than US$ 10 trillion in assets – including HSBC, BNP Paribas, Fidelity, Swedish buffer fund AP7, France’s ERAFP, and the United Kingdom’s National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) – in an open letter published during the week of May 16th by The Financial Times urging fossil fuel companies to “clarify how they see their future in a low-carbon world,” without going so far as to openly support its approval.

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Maiden Lane I Ends, Federal Reserve Aims to Shrink Balance Sheet

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The U.S. Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has been set to decline automatically since 2017, as the central bank has been liquidating funds from its US$ 4 trillion in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. As holdings matured, the Fed refrained from reinvesting them. This amounts to US$ 40 billion in monetary tightening monthly. Meanwhile, interest rates have slowly, and continuously, risen. The maturation of these Fed assets could exert upward pressure on long-term yields.

Mortgage rates, applications, and home sales have been falling, likely due to the rising rates. While rates are still historically low, U.S. President Trump has criticized the rate hikes. However, the Fed has no interest in changing course, and rates are set to continue to rise. According to Fed meeting minutes, “The Chairman suggested that the Committee would likely resume a discussion of operating frameworks in the fall.”

The size and content of the Fed balance sheet going forward will be a point of discussion for Chairman Jerome Powell. While there is no end in sight for the Fed’s plans to tighten economic policy, changing conditions may warrant further examination. With the U.S. stock market thriving, there is no indication that tightening has had a material impact on the economy. However, conventional wisdom asserts that the Fed will raise rates “until something breaks.” Market commentators have also suggested that, in the event of an emergency, the Fed will have a harder time stepping in due to the size of its balance sheet. A large part of the Fed’s monetary strategy is based around communications, and Fed-watchers have made a habit of hanging on every word. The Fed announced a shrinking balance sheet well in advance, and made gradual moves in that direction. The process has been smooth thus far. The Fed’s tightening will reach its peak, US$ 50 billion, in October. It is unclear exactly how much stimulus is still needed in the economy to reach the Fed’s 2% inflation target. The Fed’s easing policies have been criticized for the lopsided benefits they provided, more for Wall Street than Main Street. However, the easing will reduce their role in the market.

The End of Maiden Lane I

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QIA Gets a New CEO

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Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al-Thani exited as CEO of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). He has been appointed as minister of state by Amiri Order No. (4) of 2018.

Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud is appointed as the new CEO of QIA. He held positions in various organizations such as CEO of Qatar Development Bank and worked at Qatar Museums.

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SWFI First Read, September 19, 2018

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QIA Eyes Investment in Chinese Lender Lufax

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is in talks about a possible investment into Shanghai-based Lufax, one of China’s largest online lenders. The seller of the possible stake is China’s Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. Ltd. Lufax’s official name is Shanghai Lujiazui International Financial Asset Exchange Co. Ltd.

Wealth Funds Back Hotpot Giant

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