Better Have My Money

🏭Working in an American Factory 🏭

Hi friends,

Welcome to Better Have My Money, my Monday night newsletter about stocks, investing and figuring out how to get rich without being an asshole.

Look you should probably not check your investments today (mine are down about 5% today, blame Coronavirus). But if you’re wanting to purchase some shares, well, the price is right.

Not that low prices are everything. Over the weekend I watched American Factory, the Oscar-winning documentary by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar. It’s the first film released by the Obamas after their deal with Netflix.

Basically it tells the story of a General Motors (GM) factory in Dayton, Ohio, that closed the doors on its 10,000 workers in 2008 and then is reopened in 2016 by Fuyao, a Chinese glass company, rehiring a couple thousand of those same workers.

One Ohio worker who had been paid $29 an hour by General Motors was earning $12 an hour at Fuyao. She spoke about how previously when her children needed something she could buy it but that was no longer her reality.

But while wages are lower, the expectations were higher. Production had to be speedier, even if it raised safety concerns. Injuries increased. Overtime was expected. Union busting consultants were brought in.

Because what American Factory is really about is Chinese factories.

They visit one of Fuyao’s factories in China, where workers line up and number off, as if they were in the military. Company propaganda is everywhere. Workers only receive one or two days off per month. Employees move away from their children to work in the factories, and only get to visit their kids once a year.

A day after the film’s release last year, an unfair labor practice charge was filed against Fuyao. Last month Fuyao announced the Ohio factory would be getting another 100 new jobs.

One thing I was interested in checking out was if the film had any kind of negative impact on Fuyao’s share price. Fuyao Glass is a publicly traded company, listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The share price jumped 7% immediately after the film’s release. As Global Times, an English-language propaganda publication created by the Chinese government, writes:

The Chinese boss brought the factory back to life and helped solve the local unemployment issue. Despite a cultural gap and work-concept conflict between China and the US, China's manufacturing competence backed by diligent, efficient workers and strict management over past decades is reflected in the documentary.

Now the share price is slightly up since American Factory came out in August.

General Motors is not normally a stock I would consider purchasing — sorry but, um, Americans cars do not exactly have the best reputation, and I don’t usually want to invest in a company that makes gas-guzzling giant vehicles. But it did remind me that choosing to invest in companies that hire union workers is a choice that I can make as an investor.

To be clear, last year GM staff went on strike for six weeks to push for better conditions. Many of their benefits were slashed after the 2008 financial crash. Several GM factories have closed in the US and moved to places with lower labor costs, such as Mexico, so I’m not trying to trying to offer it as a much better option.

But, investing in companies in countries that support workers through workplace rights, safety regulations and good benefits may be as “ethical” an investment purchase as buying stock in a company manufacturing a more sustainable product.

If you’ve got any stock tips for ethical companies making ethical products… well, you’d better comment on this and let us all know. Cause hey, it’s a great time to buy!

And, Kobe Bryant was a complicated figure, but I found the farewell at Staples Center today very powerful to watch. The Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation is also a great example of turning a negative into a positive, and might be worth your donation this week.

Have a great week,

Amber Jamieson

🤑🤑🤑This week’s episode of the Get Money podcast looks at what exactly the hell a financial advisor does and if it’s time for you to get one.🤑🤑🤑

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