A while ago, I wrote a blog suggesting that while oil stocks are depressed, it might be a good time to invest in them, because the economy isn’t going to eliminate fossil fuels any time soon. The observation irked one reader enough to drop his subscription to my blog, and I got a couple of gentle raps across the knuckles from environmentalists. I still don’t feel contrite because smart investments mean decent retirements down the road. The question is, can we help the worker and save the environment at the same time?
Paul Tudor Jones 11, a billionaire and one of America’s richest men, thinks we can not only do both, but we can also bring back the shrinking middle class. Conscientious investing, according to him, could lead the way. The concept has been around for years. Several funds, known as green funds, invest in companies that support socially conscious objectives. In 2013, those funds slightly outperformed the general market (Click). But they don’t always. Nonetheless, Jones has a plan to shift how Wall Street does business, enabling green companies and green funds to do better. He plans to support enterprises that take a “green” attitude toward employees. In other words, he will promote companies that look beyond quarterly financial results, choosing, instead, to invest in their workers, providing them with good wages, working conditions and benefits.
To achieve his purpose, Jones 11 has created a non-profit called “Just Capital.” (Click) The agency’s mission is research reasons why the public likes or dislikes companies and then release the best examples of good capitalism on a list called “Just 1000.” The first will be produced in 2016 and every year thereafter.
Skeptics have already expressed doubts that a list of “good” companies will do much to sway the market, but Jones 11 disagrees. Starbucks is his example. This socially conscious company enjoys both a healthy profit margin and public’s good will. To prove that profit and social concerns aren’t mutually exclusive, Jones 11 has dedicated $5-6 million dollars to start up a non-profit to begin the needed research.
He hopes “Just 1000,” will changed the current system where the American worker becomes more and more productive but the CEO is the person who rakes in the profits. On average, the heads of large companies take home 373 times more money than their employees. Jones 11 believes it’s time to share. (“Fix Income Inequality?” by Brian Dumaine, Fortune, pg. 90)
Bringing a little morality to Wall Street, he argues, is better than class warfare. Even Adam Smith, one of the fathers of capitalism, cautioned that capitalism without that moral foundation was unsustainable. (Ibid pg. 91.)
Sharing the wealth. It may be an idea whose time has come. (Blog 10/7/15)