How did Marie Antoinette come up in an article about ESG?

Credit where credit is due — the art and editorial departments at CityWire USA took a few fun liberties when I referred to carrot cake in my latest article unpacking when a fund is and is not good for your ESG portfolio. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is believed to have originated the quote “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” which was then ascribed to Mme. Antoinette. The allusion as it turns out is quite apt and timely for a discussion of ESG issues, though. With the hollowing out of the middle class and the near polar separation of the very wealthy and the poor, matters of economic justice become matters of peace and stability even in developed economies. An ESG portfolio should not be disconnected from these realities, and addressing vertical slices of environmental, social and governance factors without looking across the totality presents its own risks to portfolio and purpose.

In the previous article, which is also now posted to the library, I take up a discussion of the mechanisms and merits of divestiture in public market portfolios. Is it possible to divorce a portfolio from activities that contravene the purpose and principles of the asset owners, and to do so without accepting out-of-bounds risk or sub-market returns? And while we are on the subject of literary and artistic allusion, no, the artwork does not suggest an Ayn Randian bent.  If anything, we need Atlas to cherish the responsibility for the world on his shoulders, not shrug. Divestiture should be part of a program to address the world’s problems, not retreat from them.

Head on over to the Library, pull up a chair (not too posh — remember poor dear Marie) and peruse both articles.