Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the day “March 20, 2011”

Socially Responsible Investing – Not Everyone is in Favor

Sean Williams understands about unethical business. He worked in the world of  jewelry business, where apparently “endless ethical quandaries that arise between gemstone suppliers and a demanding public.”

Such conflicts included child labor and rebel militia and governments using black-market stones to pay for their weapons and armies. Though there are ways to do ethical business in the gem world, it is littered by beauracracy and red tape.

While he supports people wanting to do what is ethically right, he does not believe you should exclude investing in a company just because they fail to reach a vague set of standards that determine what’s right or wrong ethically.

What happens when you discard these socially responsible investing principle? Williams’ answer is clear – You profit!

This is from his article. For the full text click here.

“I’m not saying you’ll profit on every trade in what I’ll call “sin stocks,” but by simply including them in your field of investment choices you’ve broadened your scope of understanding of the business landscape and given yourself other avenues by which to boost your portfolio.

Since the barrier to entry in these industries is so high, due to the stringent laws that govern these industries, sin stocks often have considerable pricing power. Because of this, they can often provide a nice hedge against prolonged economic downturns.

Perusing sectors usually cast aside by social responsible investors, you can unearth some truly solid growth stories. After carefully searching through these sin stocks, I’ve uncovered two that present tempting valuations while offering solid long-term outlooks.”

Williams has a point. If you need to make money fast (and many of us are playing catch up after the economic hurricane of the past few years), then SRI doesn’t match up in simple returns to many of what Williams calls the “sin stocks.”

He may very well be right. The question is, who is responsible for sustainable economies. We have seen that big business can’t do it, and the government won’t do it. Perhaps we need to stop investing for tomorrow  and begin investing for our children’s future.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

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