Jump to content

ESG Is Digging a Deeper and Deeper Hole for Itself


Recommended Posts

Real Clear Markets

Remember the hole-digging rule? When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Digging deeper when you’re already in a hole only means steeper, more desperate climbing when it’s finally time to get out.

Ever-deeper hole-digging describes the state of ESG investing today. Though more than $50 trillion has been committed to ESG and other sustainable investment strategies, the world is no closer to achieving its net zero objectives, nor is the global economy more socially inclusive than it would have been otherwise. These are not my findings, mind you; they are the conclusions of Professors Davidson Heath, Daniele Macciocchi, Roni Michaely, and Matthew C. Ringgenberg, who studied the behaviors of hundreds of firms over the past decade. ESG funds haven’t done much incremental good. Neither are they doing very well. As an asset class, ESG equity funds have underperformed broad market indices by hundreds of basis points in recent years. Underperforming the market while failing to achieve any of one’s desired environmental and social objectives is the essence of hole-digging.


The latest example of this type of ESG foolishness took place a few weeks ago, with the pricing of the largest exchange-traded fund (ETF) in history. It was launched by DWS, Deutsche Bank’s asset-management arm, and backed by Ilmarinen, Finland’s largest private-pension insurance company. Dubbed the “Xtrackers MSCI USA Climate Action Equity ETF,” the fund was designed for investors seeking exposure to large and mid-sized companies in the U.S. that are “leading their sector peers in taking actions relating to climate transition.” It all sounds wonderful – until you look under the hood.

DWS’s Xtrackers MSCI USA Climate Action Equity ETF prioritizes the top 50% of companies in MSCI’s global industry-classification sectors. Its performance will be evaluated against a climate-action index that MSCI designed and maintains. None of this is groundbreaking. MSCI tracks hundreds of thousands of its own indices every day. The world’s largest ratings provider has made an entire sub-industry out of designing highly customized ESG indices and deploying its own analytics in an attempt to beat them. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too. What MSCI can’t and won’t promise is that all of its new ESG indices and analytics will beat broader indices – nor do anything that verifiably promotes better global climate outcomes.:snip:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • 1718694487
  • Create New...