Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ethical Investing

I had a thought about ethical investing. Instead of investing in ethical companies, perhaps one could turn over ones proxy votes to an ethical organisation, who would use this conferred power to try to bring about more ethical behaviours within existing companies.

Big companies often divide and conquer -- large share blocks owned by principal stakeholders rule the day, while smaller investors are divided and unheard. Unifying minority opinions through an ethical proxy could improve their power greatly.

Cheers,
-MP

3 Comments:

Blogger Lee said...

Power corrupts. Conferred power...?

4/15/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Nicholas Gruen said...

That's a very good idea. Still, 'ethical investing' is such a can of worms. A lot of it is nonsense. We often need the price system to tell us not just what's the most economically efficient thing to do, but also what the right thing to do is. So if we vote in favour of companies that do more recycling, often the best we'll do is support economically inefficient ways of helping the environment (if for instance it would be better to grow more trees rather than recycle more) and often it may not even help the environment, or at least not unambigously help the environment to recycle more. Eg: recycled paper will generally emit more CO2 in production than virgin paper, because the wood grown to make paper absorbs a lot of the CO2 that the manufacture of the paper emits.

5/07/2006 11:26:00 AM  
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