The modern era of mass shootings

Somerville, NJ #MarchForOurLives rally, March 24, 2018

I was a little surprised I could get this article published in a financial services journal but extremely gratified that it was. Props to the editorial staff of CityWire USA for being bold and willing to up the ante from #MeToo a couple issues ago to #MarchForOurLives this month. I attempted to (and I hope largely succeeded) build a case away from the 2nd Amendment and politics for why a truly free and fair market has a demonstrated capacity to deal with products and companies that pose a threat to the health and welfare of the public. The market is a surprisingly democratic institution in that regard, and the view of the majority, as expressed in terms of consumer dollars and investment capital, carries a lot of power that requires no law, no legislation and no abridgment of rights to express. Consumer assault weapons, WMDs for all intents and purposes, are not just bad for society, they are bad business. Market data seems to pretty strongly back that assertion. You can find the article, “Loaded Issue”, in the Library, or you can open it directly here.

Somerville, NJ #MarchForOurLives rally, March 24, 2018

A few media updates on RIS

The latest piece to appear in CityWire USA’s March 26, 2018 issue can be found in the Library or behind this link. Had to take a breather from the heavy stuff to talk about how to measure… the heavy stuff.

Speaking of heavy stuff — also from CityWire USA, this news item quoting me discusses the selective introduction of firearms screens into portfolio construction. The short version of my perspective is that selective news-driven adjustments to an investment process are gimmickry. There should be an overarching philosophy behind the process that addresses the reasoning for a particular screen. In the case of consumerized military weaponry, Julie Gorte of PAX World (now Impax) put it to me best — removing companies whose products kill when used as directed. Yes, now addressing firearms discretely is absolutely important, but a strong philosophical grounding could have reduced or eliminated the exposure ahead of time, and certainly would be influential in what comes next in the realm of things that are bad for people and the planet. You can see the quote here, and stay tuned, because the next article to appear in CityWire takes on why our children need to #marchforourlives and where stakeholder responsibility resides.

Where are our blog manners?

Apologies to our readership. This has been an extraordinary time and there is almost too much to talk about. We have some new articles that will be going up in the Library shortly. And, much to say on the blog about everything that has happened in the last month or so that shows the frailty of our planet and civil society and where responsible investment capital can be a bulwark against the things that threaten both. But for now, just miscellany.

Happy Equal Pay Day.

No, not really. Until that day is January 1st, there is nothing happy about it. Also, look at the data underlying this catch-all symbol for pay inequity. There are those who discount the significance of the difference by pointing out that women take many of the lower paying jobs in our economy like food service workers and domestic employees, and therefore that amplifies the difference when looking at men vs. women in aggregate. We would argue that is actually exactly the point. Women, who are the majority of the population and the majority of college graduates, are as a group underrepresented in high paying white collar positions and overrepresented in positions that may be essential to the economy, but grossly underpay. Inclusion riders in Hollywood are definitely a highly visible step, but in a very constrained industry vertical. The best and most investable companies are the ones that strive for not just equal pay but also fair pay — a truly livable minimum wage — for all.

Happy Earth Day.

No, not really. We live on this planet, the only one we have until Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are drag racing space convertibles to the stars, and we pat ourselves on the back for throwing Gaia a nice party and turning off some lights for a day before returning to prior behaviors. We all love New Year, lenten, and other resolutions. Give up chocolate. Exercise more. Swear less. So maybe those three are near impossible, but what is possible is to take each Earth Day and pick a personal behavior or a corporate behavior that reflects social, environmental and economic justice priorities you can affect and change it. Permanently. Even if they are small changes, the cumulative effect could be profound. Maybe this year go down the hall to HR and ask for sustainable investment options in your retirement plan, and then go buy that Starbucks travel mug.

Wait. What?

Wells Fargo. They do so love to be above the fold. After rampant borderline fraudulent behavior with their consumer banking clients preceded and followed by campaigning for the dismantling of Dodd-Frank, they manage to further distinguish themselves from other money center banks by coming down on the wrong side of the gun issue. They definitely want a lighter governmental hand when it comes to regulating banking activities, but are all for government taking the reins on high capacity consumer weaponry (Reuters). As we are very fond of pointing out at RIS, ignore your stakeholders at your own peril. The bank’s customers, shareholders, and communities are making themselves heard. Watch that share price if they become a target for divestiture from individuals, families, charities, pensions, etc. as clients and investors.

Stay tuned. Articles, blog posts, and some interesting papers from our industry friends yet to come.