STUMP » Articles » Divestment and Activist Investing Follies: What's Next? My Lunch? » 4 May 2018, 21:29

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Divestment and Activist Investing Follies: What's Next? My Lunch?  


4 May 2018, 21:29

Today’s “Around the Pension-o-Sphere” has been pre-empted!


Yup, I need to dump some of my divestment links because they are piling up and starting to stink. Or have been stinking for quite some time.

And I’m gonna start in a weird place.


This may seem unrelated to the pension divestment theme I’ve been writing about, but just hang in there for a moment.

NY Post: Food fascists have demonized everything we eat:

It’s time for lunch. Whose side are you on?

If you’re at the giant new Chick-fil-A at 144 Fulton St., you’re in league with fundamentalist, gay-hating Christians on a secret mission to convert you to their rotten faith.

Welcome to the demented world of Food Politics.

When globetrotting TV star/author Anthony Bourdain proclaimed at a New York Times forum last year, “There is nothing on this planet that is more political than food,” he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Once PC culinary sages merely condemned what Americans ate as factory farm-driven, profit-mad and highly caloric. Twinkies and high-fructose corn syrup would kill us all, unless we gave up steaks and fries for low-fat, plant-based regimens.

But in the last year, the agenda’s lurched far, far leftward. Kit Kat bars are making people fat in South America, part of a “marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India,” The New York Times moaned on its front page as far back as Sept. 16.
The favorite target of political foodies is of course Donald Trump, whose tacky taste is regarded as disqualifying him from his role as Leader of the Free World. According to Suzy Swartz in the April 18 edition of The Atlantic, Trump’s craving for McDonald’s and pizza demonstrate a “willful rejection of facts about food and nutrition.”

So I want you to stop for a moment and think.

If you have got to strike out investment in fossil fuel companies because it leads to climate change that kills people (eventually… maybe…); if you have got to strike out investment in gun companies because guns kill people… then you have got to strike out investment in evil foods that lead to the biggest killers of all: heart disease and cancer.

Kit Kats are making South American people fat, leading to diabetes, leading to death. Therefore: you cannot have your pension invest in Kit Kats (that is, Nestle).

And don’t get me started on the colon cancer caused by eating well-done beef. No McDonald’s for the pension fund.

Far more people die from heart disease and cancer than guns or even climate change (so far). How dare you provide money to Big Candy?!

Forget about investing in things that Trump likes to consume, which by definition, is evil.


Calif. pension plan urged to divest automakers that skirt emissions rules

A group of congressional Democrats representing California urged the state’s pension system to divest shares from any automaker that follows the Trump administration’s plan to relax light-vehicle emissions standards.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System should take such action to demonstrate the importance of fuel efficiency standards and the groundbreaking role the state has played in this arena, a group led by Representative Mark DeSaulnier wrote in a letter to the organization Tuesday.

The Trump administration hopes to roll back fuel standards to those established before President Barack Obama came into office. The former president’s stance on fuel economy was inspired by California’s strict emissions requirements. DeSaulnier wrote Calpers earlier this month pushing for divestment. Tuesday’s letter added support from 10 additional California representatives.

I want to butt in for a moment and remind you that it’s legislators aka politicians who were voted into office, who don’t have a fiduciary duty to the pensions who are recommending this crap.

I seriously want to slap these people with a fish.



I’ve been trying to add more happy stuff.

Here’s some happy stuff.

New Pensions Group Says Forget About Climate Change

The Institute for Pension Fund Integrity, founded by a former state treasurer, is calling on pension fiduciaries to prioritize investment returns over political issues like divestment.

Pension funds should focus solely on getting the best investment returns and ignore issues such as climate change and other political issues, says a new group founded by a former Connecticut state treasurer.

In a white paper released today, the new group, the Institute for Pension Fund Integrity, argued that prioritizing anything but returns is a breach of fiduciary duty. Christopher Burnham, the institute’s founder and president and a former United Nations undersecretary, told Institutional Investor that politics have “no role to play” in managing retirement funds.

“We take a market or realistic approach to unfunded liabilities in state and municipal pension systems,” he said.

Burnham, who is also the founder of venture firm Cambridge Global Capital and previously served six years as a vice-chairman at Deutsche Asset Management, said that when he was Connecticut’s treasurer and sole fiduciary of the state’s retirement system, activists wanted the pension fund out of stocks such as tobacco.

“Now it’s divesting out of energy stocks,” he said.

And next, it will be cheeseburgers. Or Chick-Fil-A.


Here are more items on the topic, which I don’t feel like commenting on, one-by-one:



Divestment Doesn’t Change Company Behavior, Pension Managers Say – Bloomberg

Managers of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the New York State Common Retirement Fund said they oppose divesting from controversial companies because it doesn’t change corporate behavior.

“Divestment hasn’t made the world a better place,” Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer of CalSTRS, the second-largest U.S. pension fund with about $225 billion in assets, said Tuesday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.

Ailman and Vicki Fuller, CIO of the New York fund, said they face increasing political pressure to divest from companies including those in oil and banking, as well as gun retailers and others.

“If we divest from guns, we don’t change the equation,” said Fuller, whose fund has about $192 billion in assets.

They said the goal is to engage with companies to adopt corporate governance, environmental and social policies because those are the ways to affect share values.

Or, you can just know that it’s not your money and you need to focus on returns.

Fight the power. And the investment returns.


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