Feb 10, 2019

When money is green

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Green New Deal resolution came out this week, featuring a list of ills afflicting America and the world, as well as proposed solutions.

The big picture: To tackle the problems of declining life expectancy, increased economic inequality and stagnant middle-class incomes — not to mention saving the planet — the bill attempts to "create millions of good, high-wage jobs" and "provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States."

  • The bill features a long list of investments in energy, water and transportation infrastructure, structured "in a way that ensures that the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment." This is designed to "build wealth and community ownership."

An accompanying FAQ explains:

The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments and new public banks can be created to extend credit. There is also space for the government to take an equity stake in projects to get a return on investment. At the end of the day, this is an investment in our economy that should grow our wealth as a nation, so the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what will we do with our new shared prosperity.

Fiscally, the idea is to use the existing tools of finance — banks, credit, equity — to turbocharge a level of investment that the market could never muster if left to its own devices. "The level of investment required is massive," says the FAQ. "Even if every billionaire and company came together and were willing to pour all the resources at their disposal into this investment, the aggregate value of the investments they could make would not be sufficient."

This idea is not new, although it is of unprecedented size. The International Financing Facility for Immunization was launched in 2006 and raised $5.7 billion for Gavi, the global vaccine alliance. That money, in turn, saw an impressive return on investment, averting more than 4 million deaths. Those living individuals will contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy over the course of their lifetimes.

  • A similar International Finance Facility for Education could launch as soon as this year.
  • In the private sector, issuance of green bonds has been growing at an astonishing pace. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative, global green bond issuance rose from $13 billion in 2013 to more than $167 billion in 2018.
  • A record number of "socially conscious" mutual funds launched last year. Together, they now manage some $1.2 trillion in assets.
  • Even Prince Charles is launching a $100 million social-bond fund designed to empower women in South Asia.

The bottom line: Anthropogenic global warming is a function of industrialization and, ultimately, capitalism. The only force powerful enough to change the planet's climate is also the only force powerful enough to stop us from destroying it entirely.

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Bernie's juggernaut

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.

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Buttigieg campaign claims Nevada caucuses were "plagued with errors"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg's campaign wrote a letter on Sunday asking the Nevada State Democratic Party to release early vote and in-person vote totals by precinct and address certain caucus errors identified by campaigns, The Nevada Independent reports.

The big picture: The campaign alleges that the process of integrating early votes on caucus day was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies,” and says it received more than 200 incident reports from precincts around the state.

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Coronavirus threat grows, threatening some drug supplies

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

As the novel coronavirus continues spreading globally and China grapples with a limited production capability, there's a growing risk to about 150 prescription drugs in the U.S., sources tell Axios.

The big picture: The coronavirus has spread to more countries, with both South Korea and Italy stepping up emergency measures amid rising case numbers on Sunday. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,467 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China.

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