Stupid Investment Idea of the Year: Socially Irresponsible Mutual Fund
Hilarious. While "socially responsible" mutual funds have been enjoying good investment performance of late, and corporations are beginning to understand that social and environmental responsibility enhances long-term shareholder value, an intentionally socially irresponsible fund is in the dumpster of investment performance:
The May 2006 Institutional Investor reports:
Right-wing fund managers Steve Milloy and Tom Borelli are grabbing lots of attention for accusing companies of devoting resources to pet causes instead of maximizing profits. Last month they showed up at Goldman Sachs' annual meeting in New York to attack CEO Hank Paulson for, among other things, chairing the Nature Conservancy and authorizing Goldman's donation of land it owned in Chile to the Wildlife Conservation Society. But a look at the returns of the pair's grandly named Free Enterprise Action Fund suggests that their own bottom line could use some help. The $5.6 million fund gained just 2.32 percent from March 1, 2005, its first day in business, through the end of the year, net of expenses. That's well below the S&P 500's 4.72 percent gain during the same period -- and it doesn't hold a candle to the 18 percent appreciation of Goldman shares.
Sure enough, the partners hold their own venture to different standards. Their returns, they say, don't matter as much as their stated cause: counteracting the influence of so-called socially responsible investment firms, like Domini Social Investments and Calvert, on corporate behavior.
"We're not trying to be a high-performing mutual fund," Milloy, 47, tells Institutional Investor. "We are imitating the left. Left-wing social-political activists don't like capitalism. They hide behind human rights. We want to help oppose that."
The pair have plenty of experience standing up for corporate America's right to ignore do-gooders. In his spare time Milloy publishes JunkScience.com, a Web site devoted to debunking global warming as a "myth." He formerly ran the Free Enterprise Action Institute, which was funded in part by ExxonMobil. Borelli previously worked as a lobbyist for food and tobacco giant Altria Group. . . .
I'm sure these self-professed champions of capitalism will attract a lot of investors with a fund philosophy like "We're not trying to perform well." Yeah, great idea. The free market's gonna eat that right up.