A Path to Better Activism in Finance

January 22, 2020

My Dear Reader,

Martin Luther King Jr was a great man. In a country filled with great men from George Washington to the late Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King stands with the best of them.  His very name is one that inspires brave acts in the face of stiff opposition, and like the Great German monk Martin Luther 400 years before him, King did not preach from the heart- rather, from scripture.  Perhaps this is why his words will live on in American lore forever. Yet, for all the Grievances between the two races here in the United States, what is most likely the most awe-inspiring it’s a fact that King preached Unity. He could have used his voice for violence and retaliation, and there were factions at the time who would have supported him. But instead he said he had a dream in which all people of all races could enjoy themselves based on their accomplishments and achievements only.

It would do us well to remember these words, not just on the 20th or 21st of January, but for all time. But I can’t help but wonder how things have changed since Dr. King’s Day. I’m not talking technology-wise.  if we truly gone forwards from those days? I would argue in immediate aftermath of his work, we did go forward. we were finally able to deal with r segregationist demons and slowly but surely, black and white communities grew closer together. but I fear something has changed relatively recently which threatens our progress. in the late 90s and early 2000s, it was a trend in the social academic community, that’s your Humanity subjects, to describe “interlocking systems of oppression” and discover “hidden hierarchies”. This movement can be best summed up in Janna Noel’s seminal piece, “White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack.” 

This movement was decidedly different from King’s approach. rather than working towards unity and a better future, this new approach was rooted and tearing up the old for the sake of righting past wrongs. this is because much of the philosophical base was rooted in a Neo Marxist ideology, which itself is a perverted radical Rousseauian thought system. Now, we’ve talked about the implications of this philosophy in a number of different civil discourse videos, and even in an upcoming book series called taxation revelation. My point is however, that there are many different ways of achieving an activist role, and even more ways after playing out that role. but how you play that role out will be how people remember you. With that being said, there was a recent article in The European Union. 

An activist hedge fund is one that attempts to give investors money to ethical companies. that means no tobacco companies, in some cases no gun  manufacturers. for a while, These funds were seldom use but often performed quite well. but since 2015 their use and Europe has risen. interestingly enough, it’s actually spilled over into non activists funds as well.  in a study conducted by the Oxford Review of Finance, a detailed explanation of this phenomenon was given.

“Our results show positive spillover effects of activism—as activism threat increases, non-targeted firms with high threat perception are more likely to undertake policy changes mirroring those implemented at the targets. Specifically, an interquartile increase in Threat increases leverage (payout) by 0.8% (0.4%) and decreases capital expenditures (cash holdings) by 0.4% (0.6%) among nontargets with high threat perception, relative to those with low threat perception. The magnitudes of these changes, which occur over a 2-year period, are about 35–80% of those observed at the targets. Unlike the targets, threatened peers significantly reduce cash holdings but do not lower CEO pay.”

Under pressure from well-performing funds, and potentially gaining some political capital, Europe has seen an activist spill over into other companies. While the potential here is great, activism, as Dr.King showed us, may prove to be more effective with a lighter touch.  In my note to you tomorrow, we’ll drive deeper into this study and continue to honor the late doctors efforts and activism.

To your creation and potential,

Kevin Prendiville