Corporate America and Gender Diversity by the Numbers: DealBook’s Closing Bell

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Corporate America still has a long way to go to improve gender diversity. In March 2017, State Street Global Advisors, one of the largest fund companies, made a push to get companies to put more women on corporate boards. FactSet has now crunched the numbers to see if there has been an improvement since then. The answer: There’s a long way to go. The percentage of companies in the Russell 3000 stock index with no female board members declined to 18 percent from 23 percent. The percentage of companies in which women hold 15 percent of the board seats or fewer decreased to 47 percent from 58 percent. Currently, the boards of 22 companies have an equal split between men and women, while women make up the board majority at 14 companies, up from five. Just 5 percent of companies in the index are led by women, unchanged from March 2017.

Buybacks may not be such a good thing for investors. A lot has been written about the surge in buybacks this year — they are up 50 percent from a year ago — but a question not often brought up is whether that has been a good thing for investors. Share repurchases have been a go-to move for companies to lift their stock prices over the past decade. But research from TrimTabs Asset Management is raising questions about whether the activity has done much to bolster stock prices. “Many of the companies that have bought their stock back have underperformed the market,” wrote Ted Theodore, chief investment officer at TrimTabs, and Vince Chen, a quantitative analyst at the firm. “And that is not just in the recent six months or so — for more than the last three years, an index focused on companies with a strong history of buying back their own stock has underperformed.

President Trump’s tariffs are affecting trade, but not in the way he wants. The president has made reducing America’s trade deficit a cornerstone of his administration. The White House credited those policies with narrowing the deficit during the second quarter, but that narrative is now unraveling, wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. The United States’ trade deficit in goods widened last month to a six-month high. A slide in exports was the main culprit; they have now declined by more than 1 percent for three straight months. “Now, the data capture the simple point that the U.S. economy’s supply-side does not have the slack needed to meet domestic demand pumped up by the tax cuts and government spending increases. The deficit has further to rise,” Mr. Shepherdson wrote.

Where are the biggest housing bubbles? UBS has released its Global Real Estate Bubble Index, and the real estate markets in Hong Kong, Munich, Toronto, Amsterdam, London and Vancouver, British Columbia, are all in bubble-risk territory. In the United States, the housing markets in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York are overvalued.

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