Should investors be worried about social consciousness?
ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing is becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst young people. So, does this mean we should align our portfolios to reflect better social principles or is ESG just a fad which will pass?
In 1970 Milton Friedman said companies which put social principles before profits are “unwitting puppets of those who would undermine a free society”. His views were praised. Today, the opinion of the Nobel prize winning economist has far less support. The ‘profits first’ principle that was enjoyed (or perhaps endured) by capitalists for most of the last 50 years is crumbling.
We can point fingers. Was unethical business practice first questioned when Lehman Brothers collapsed in the wake of the US real estate crisis and subsequent global banking disaster? Perhaps society’s trust in Friedman’s capitalism has been eroded by a succession…
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