Google closes a high-flying cellular project. The tech giant said it would end Loon, who used high altitude helium balloons to broadcast internet access. Loon was one of Google’s most famous Moonshot projects that fell out of favor when the company tightened its belt.
Sign of a green regulation revolution
On the eve of President Biden’s inauguration, the Federal Housing Agency made a silent announcement that speaks volumes about the changes to financial regulation. The agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, asked for input on climate change risk management, noting that a “growing body of research” was being carried out on the threats posed by extreme weather to the economy.
The timing looks suspiciousbut it’s a coincidence, agency spokespersons told DealBook. It may seem like a U-turn by the agency of Mark Calabria, a libertarian economist appointed by a president who sacked climate science. But the move wasn’t designed to please a new, green government, they insisted. Extreme weather is an obvious problem for the real estate market, as Fannie and Freddie discovered with mortgage defaults following Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017. Mr. Calabria has long built a research and data team that will soon include an environmental economist.
The change in administration could bring powerful new partners. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen said she would appoint “someone at a very high level” to create a hub in the Treasury Department focused on climate change and financial system risks. Many of Mr. Biden’s other nominees have green credentials and form “the largest team of climate change experts ever assembled in the White House.”
The move is in line with a fundamental change in how financial regulators feel about risk. said Mark Zandi, Moody’s chief economist. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Fed recently addressed climate risks in high-profile reports. Legally and politically, given the priorities of the new government, agencies can now react quickly to climate protection initiatives.
“We are having one of those rare moments of hope,” said Tim Mohin of the carbon accounting startup Persefoni, who has seen climate risk move from marginal to mainstream for over 30 years, in government and at companies like Apple and China work on sustainability Intel. “There’s no need to drive slowly.”
Economy & Economy
Jan. 21, 2021, 4:40 p.m. ET
Pushback against Nasdaq’s diversity movement
As the SEC is considering Nasdaq’s proposal to require greater diversity on the boards of its publicly traded companies, criticism came from an unexpected source: Arthur Levitt Jr., chairman of the commission in the Clinton administration.
Mr. Levitt made several arguments against the proposal, A Wall Street Journal noted that the requirement was “political” and that there was a lack of evidence of a link between bodies and financial performance. He asked the SEC to investigate the issue and let Nasdaq make it a voluntary action. A Nasdaq spokesman declined to comment on DealBook.
Others have written in support of the proposal:
“We believe that it is of vital importance not only for us, but for all leading companies in our country to put their boards together in such a way that diversity and inclusion are valued as key factors for value creation and productivity,” wrote Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook The website listed is Nasdaq.
The Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, a branch of the US Chamber of Commerce, said it “commended Nasdaq for promoting a private sector solution to encourage greater diversity among board members,” but opposed a mandatory quota system.
The SEC is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks. You can read all of the comments it received here.