Why Business Meetings Are Often a Waste of Time — and Productivity [Speakeasy on WSJ.com]

Internal meetings are the bane of corporate life. There are too many meetings, they take too long, and they get too little accomplished.

Why? Because most meetings are really not necessary. Before you call a meeting, think about whether you can accomplish your goals through email or a quick phone call. You rarely need to call a meeting if you’re just planning on sharing information or issuing action instructions. By contrast, meetings may be needed to debate issues or to develop new approaches.

Read the rest at blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy

Why Not Venture-Capital Philanthropy? [Wall Street Journal]

Some of our brightest, most innovative thinkers are at start-up companies. But these companies often have a hard time raising capital. Venture-capital firms have become more cautious, unwilling to fund start-ups that have bright ideas but whose products are a long way from commercial viability. Venture capitalists consider such start-ups—such as early-stage biotech firms—too risky to justify their investment.

Charitable organizations can now step up and help. The U.S. Treasury Department has recently issued a proposal to clarify that foundations may buy stock or make loans to a commercial venture if its activities promote its charitable objectives. Legal uncertainties surrounding such investments had previously held back the risk-averse trustees at many charities.

Read the rest in the Wall Street Journal

Also, read my article, “A Guide to Charitable Investing,” published in the April 2012 issue of Trusts and Trustees. It delineates in more detail the legal constraints on program-related investments.

Risk-weighting of MBS and sovereign debt under financial regulations

On Saturday, Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about regulators’ role in the financial crisis of 2008 and the present sovereign debt crisis. I certainly don’t agree with everything that he said, but he makes a very good point about assets that are deemed to be low-risk or risk-free under Basel or other frameworks:

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Two policies using immigration to boost investment

Can foreigners be lured by favorable VISA treatment into creating new jobs and bolstering home prices in the U.S.?

Yesterday’s Boston Globe had an interesting article about a program designed to increase business investment in the United States.

The immigrant investor program, created in 1990 by Congress to compete with a similar initiative in Canada, helps foreigners slash through the red tape in the US immigration system while allowing businesses … to raise the money they need to expand.

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A New Model for Corporate Boards [Wall Street Journal]

In 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to prevent corporate governance debacles like Enron and WorldCom from happening again. But six years later, many of the largest U.S. institutions had to be rescued by massive federal assistance. All of these institutions were Sarbox-compliant: Most members of their boards were independent, and their auditors’ reports showed no material weaknesses in internal controls. So why were the reforms so ineffective?