Guest Contribution: “ESG investing, versus those who would ban it”

Today, we present a guest post written by Jeffrey Frankel, Harpel Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and formerly a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. A shorter version appeared at Project Syndicate.

February 27, 2023 — The popular ESG movement advocates judging firms, not just by what they generate for shareholders in short-term profits, but by their emphasis on environmental, social, and governance goals.  The movement has its detractors, particularly in the United States.  A counter-movement is gathering steam. It would prohibit some financial institutions from investing in firms that follow ESG practices.

To be sure, ESG does warrant some skepticism.  Often, corporate commitments are essentially mere exercises in public relations.  But those who, in the name of economic freedom, would ban private investors from pursuing ESG goals are logically confused.

  1. The campaign to ban ESG investing

Leading the charge, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said last July:

“From Wall Street banks to massive asset managers and big tech companies, we have seen the corporate elite use their economic power to impose policies on the country that they could not achieve at the ballot box. Through the actions I announced today, we are protecting Floridians from woke capital…”

The anti-ESG forces are especially anxious that investors not be allowed to discriminate against gun manufacturers or fossil fuel companies.

In the first five weeks of 2023 alone, Republican state lawmakers proposed up to 49 laws to prevent banks and other institutions from paying attention to ESG criteria in their decisions over which corporations to invest in. In other states, such bills were proposed last year, and some have voted them into law.  States that have taken actions restricting ESG investing include Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah.

At the federal level as well, conservatives in the Senate and House are considering  anti-ESG legislation.  The Biden administration in November decided that it is appropriate for fiduciaries to rely on risk-return analysis that considers environmental, social, and corporate governance factors. The Labor Department ruling permits retirement plans, as of January 30, to take considerations of “social responsibility“ into account on behalf of plan participants.  Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) has put forth a resolution to overturn the rule and has garnered the support of every Republican senator, and thereby to ban retirement plans from “socially responsible” investing.

Many actions at the state level prohibit only public pension funds from investing along ESG lines.  That may be the legal right of a state government.  But the campaign also takes aim at private banks and institutional investors. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is a favorite target.

There should no longer be any doubt that today’s “conservatives” are not crusading for economic freedom, but rather are fighting culture wars.  DeSantis is the same governor who in 2021 used the power of the Florida state government to prevent privately owned cruise lines from running cruises on which Covid19-vaccinated vacationers could choose to be in each other’s company.  To anyone sincerely interested in free markets, the Governor appears unclear on the concept.

  1. The debate

These issues are not new.  The debate over the social responsibility of corporations can be traced back to 1932, when New Deal architect A.A. Berle and law professor Merrick Dodd debated the issue in the Harvard Law Review.  In a famous 1970 New York Times Magazine essay, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits,” the free-market economist Milton Friedman argued that a government chosen by the political process is the proper venue to address social goals and that the duty of a corporation is simply to maximize returns to shareholders, within the constraints of ethical custom and the laws enacted by that government.  If society wants to accelerate the energy transition, for example, it should enact policies like taxes on carbon or subsidies to renewable energy, and then let firms respond to the incentives.  This is a more serious approach than appealing to executives’ consciences and then crying “greenwashing” when the ultimate results are inadequate.  For almost 50 years, the Friedman doctrine reigned.

Then along came ESG.  Proponents make two sorts of arguments.  One is that corporations should, on moral grounds, look beyond the economic interests of their shareholders.  It is for ethicists to adjudicate the moral argument. The second claim is that workers, customers, and investors will respond to good corporate behavior, and that enthusiastic consumers and motivated employees will benefit the firm’s bottom line in the long run.

Some evidence suggests that reforms in the area of corporate governance (the “G” in the acronym) can indeed be financially rewarding.  Note that the interests of top managers and the interests of shareholders often diverge.  Studies in a variety of countries have shown that corporations have higher returns and higher share prices if they constrain executive compensation by such good governance practices as requiring outside directors to sit on compensation committees and stock-holders to get a “say on pay.”

Scholarly findings are less favorable when it comes to “sustainable investing” more broadly. Turning to the “E,” it is not clear that acting to protect the environment above and beyond what is required or incentivized by the government, however praiseworthy, will necessarily help a company’s long run profits. As a general rule, that is.  Clearly there are big potential rewards for being the fastest or the best in, for example, the markets for EVs or renewable energy.

  1. Who should decide?

The case for “doing well by doing good” is for private markets to evaluate.  Customers can decide for themselves whether they want to buy the products of environmentally conscious firms.  Workers can decide for themselves whether they want to work harder for socially minded employers.  Investors can decide for themselves whether they think that following good governance practices is indeed profitable in the long run.

ESM is no substitute for intelligently-designed politically supported government regulation.  In this respect, Milton Friedman was right.  On the other hand, if a private company thinks it can do better by pursuing ESM goals, and makes the case to shareholders, it is not the place of governors or congressmen to interfere.  Milton Friedman would agree with that too.


This post written by Jeffrey Frankel.

70 thoughts on “Guest Contribution: “ESG investing, versus those who would ban it”

  1. pgl

    I think this is related:

    Is there a green premium in the green bond market? Systematic literature review revealing premium determinants

    The green bond market is emerging as an impactful financing mechanism in climate change mitigation efforts. Studies investigating this market have revealed the notion of a ‘green premium’ or ‘greenium’ within green bond pricing, including insights into influential characteristics and drivers that govern it. However, methodological heterogeneity among these studies has resulted in general ambiguity regarding a consensus over the existence of the green premium. This research addresses this gap through a systematic literature review with the aim of establishing a consensus on the existence, or nonexistence, of a green premium in the green bond market. The review examines studies published between 2007 and 2019. A ranking of the green bond characteristics most likely to exhibit a green premium is organised, including a framework of driving factors. The findings confirm a consensus on the existence of a green premium within 56% of primary and 70% of secondary market studies, particularly for those green bonds that are government issued, investment grade, and that follow defined green bond governance and reporting procedures. The green premium varies widely for the primary market; however, an average greenium of −1 to −9 basis points on the secondary market is observed. Overall, our findings highlight the crucial role of strengthening environmental preferences amongst bond market participants; including implications for bond pricing theory, by suggesting that future bond pricing should consider noneconomic motives of investors, such as environmental preferences; and, for future growth implications as a catalyst towards the financing of climate change mitigation efforts globally.


    Lol, you can’t ban something you don’t even know exists. Republicans serve globalism and it’s elites.

  3. Moses Herzog

    I seem to recall something called “the invisible hand” mentioned by some lightweight named Adam Smith. Are MAGA conservatives giving up on that part of capitalism as well?? Oh sh*t, I’m showing my age again. No, I was not alive when that book came out, damn it, you itinerant spit wad throwers you. If slapping the wrist of negative externalities becomes more important to overall society’s function (you know, not burning to death in western USA wild fires and large cities drowning to death on coastal areas) isn’t “ESG” a kind of natural fruition/extension of “the invisible hand”?? Or am I taking liberties with the phraseology lexicon??

  4. Macroduck

    War is peace. Investor choice is “imposed policies”.

    Desantis is a man with a plan. The plan is to replace one “political correctness” with another. Remember when “political correctness” was a bad thing?

    1. Moses Herzog

      “Political correctness” is grandpa talk for “woke”. Come on, get with it. Soon you’ll be like me, dropping by the 7-11 on Tuesdays to pick up a hardcopy NYT. Do you really think you can withstand the teenage girls mocking giggles over your shoulder like I do?? Next you’ll be wearing one of those newsboy caps, paying cash for your gasoline while others are crying about being robbed by credit card skimmers and your entire suburb will break out into chaos. Wake up man!!! Wake up!!!!

      1. Macroduck

        I miss finding the NYT left on a table at a coffee shop, cheapskate that I am. That’s what I get for pulling up stakes.

        I’m immune to the derision of teenage girls. Just ask my post-teenage daughters.

        1. Moses Herzog

          : ) In some respects I am very jealous of your family. But “upon further review” I can barely manage my own affairs. So maybe God blessed me with my negative final act stage drama over in China. One thinks to themselves “if I get this girl, it will light a fire underneath me and I will change, and ‘from that moment on’ I will behave like an adult”. But the reality is often not the case. So…… Keep the kids away from the slackers, hahaha. But do snatch that hardcopy NYT abandoned at the window booth table of the donut shop when you see it—do it for me anyway.

  5. Manfred

    Love it when Jeff The Hahvahd Guy says: “…the free-market economist Milton Friedman…”
    What? There at Hahvahd, you guys are “non-free market economists”? What kind of economists are y’all? Despotic, command-and-control, “bureaucrat sitting in cubicle knows best” economists?
    No Jeff, Milton Friedman was a plain “economist”. Yes, he defended free market ideas, but first and foremost he was an economist.
    And he was a superb economist. An economist who made huge contributions to economic thought that still live on today.
    You can read some of them here, Jeff:
    Which is why Friedman earned the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976.
    But honestly, I do not hold my breath. Because much of what the University of Chicago taught us over many decades, during the golden years of the Chicago Econ Department, is probably skipped at Hahvahd. In modern parlance, it is “canceled”. It never existed. They threw it down the proverbial memory hole.

    1. Macroduck

      Manfred, in neither of your comments have you actually addressed Frankel’s points. If some guy has said ESG investing doesn’t have an impact, that isn’t a counter-argument to what Frankel has written. In fact, if you had bothered to read what Frankel has written, you’d know that he raised the issue of effectiveness when it comes to environmental investing.

      So, Mahnphredd, do you actually have a point?

    2. pgl

      When Manfred gets past his stupid tantrum, he might want to read something written by David Friedman who was the son of Milton Friedman:

      The World According to Coase
      When the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics to Ronald Coase this year, it was a surprise for two different groups of people. The larger group consisted of people who had either never heard of Coase, or heard of him only as the author of something called the “Coase Theorem,” generally presented as a theoretical curiousity of no practical importance. The second and much smaller group consisted of people who were familiar with the importance of Coase’s work—and assumed that the Swedish Academy was not. Some people get the Nobel prize for complicated and technical work that is difficult for an outsider to understand. Coase is at the other extreme. His contribution to economics has largely consisted of thinking through certain questions more carefully and correctly than anyone else, and in the process demonstrating that answers accepted by virtually the entire profession were false. One side effect of his work was a new field of economics: economic analysis of law, the attempt to use economic theory to understand legal systems. While there would probably be something called economic analysis of law if Coase had not existed, it would be a very different field. One of Coase’s important contributions to economics was to rewrite the theory of externalities—the analysis of situations, such as pollution, where one person’s actions impose costs (or benefits) on another. His ideas are sufficiently simple to be understood by a layman, as I will try to demonstrate in the next few pages, and sufficiently deep so that they have not yet been entirely absorbed by the profession; to a considerable extent what is still taught in the textbooks is the theory as it existed before Coase.

      Yes – even the son of Milton Friedman understood externalities. I actually once had the pleasure of talking about this with David over dinner. David was a bright and charming person who would be deeply offended by the trash Manfred writes here.

      1. Moses Herzog

        “Hidden Order” is a great book. I would recommend it to those ages 13–25 with a natural interest in Economics.

      2. Macroduck

        Poor Rose. She gave this kid half his genetic material and hauled him around for nine months, but does she ever get any credit? And then, did he ever write? Did he visit? Did he ever think of his poor mother?

        1. Moses Herzog

          She did much more heavy lifting in that family than she ever got credit for. That much is for damned sure. Born in,

          Wait for it…… wait for it…… wait for it……


    3. pgl

      “Which is why Friedman earned the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976.”

      Hey Manfred – do you even have a clue WHY he received the Nobel Prize? Oh wait – you don’t. So here you go:

      Prize motivation: “for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy”

      BTW – Friedman never was the type of ecoonomist who supported unregulated banking system. But other than that – he was quite a free marketer type. As in abolish the AMA. Oh wait – Manfred never read his Occupational Licensing (1962) either.

  6. Manfred

    By the way, Jeff The Hahvahd Guy: bad timing of your article defending ESG.
    Look at today’s Wall Street Journal [do you guys at Hahvahd read the WSJ? Asking for a friend.]
    On page A17, big article by a guy of name Terrence Keeley, who is CEO of 1PointSix, LLC and author of “Sustainable: Moving Beyond ESG to Impact Investing”.
    “Moving Beyond ESG”, I guess this is one more CEO who does not like ESG as you do, Jeff.

    Look what Keeley says in his article, quoting the CEO of Vanguard: “Our research indicates that ESG investing does not have any advantage over broad-based investing,” Mr. Buckley said in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “Mr. Buckely” is the CEO of Vanguard. And oh my goodness, the interview was the Financial Times in London. Wow.
    Not quite what you were saying, Jeff. But again, not sure y’all at Hahvahd read the Wall Street Journal, since y’all do not like “free markets” [y’all are “non-free market economists”.]
    Keeley continues: “Matching word to deed, his comments came after he had withdrawn his firm [Vanguard] from the $59 trillion Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, an organization that is part of the $150 trillion United Nations-affiliated Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Both alliances are committed to restricting their investments over time to companies that are compliant with the Paris Agreement’s objective of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Mr. Buckley claims the financial world, swept up in climate-change fervor, can’t make such commitments without reneging on its fiduciary duties.”
    You get this Jeff?
    This is completely contra what you are saying. I already foresee that Tim Buckley, CEO of Vanguard, will be canceled, memory-holed, at Hahvahd.
    The article has much more. Tell a friend to send you a PDF of the article, if you dare to read it.
    Or shoot me an e-mail, Jeff, I am glad to send you a copy.

    1. Macroduck

      “This is completely contra what you are saying.”

      Just to repeat: No, it isn’t. You’re simply wrong. You’ve misconstrued what Frankel wrote.

      There are only two explanations for being as wrong as you are – ignorance or dishonesty. If ignorance is the answer, in this case it almost has to be willful ignorance, which is just a particular kind of dishonesty.

      Why do guys think lying about other people’s positions is a useful thing to do? We, the honesty police, catch you. Does lying make you feel good?

    2. pgl

      “This is completely contra what you are saying.”

      You are an idiot.

      Vanguard was only noting the Green Premium issue which I linked to. Yes – one has to pay an extra 10 basis points for Green investing over regular investing. If one does not care about ESG then one does not want to pay this incredibly tiny difference.

      Now I would ask you Manfred if you got this? But no – you likely are too busy throwing one of your patented hissy fits to get this or what Dr. Frankel was talking about.

    3. Moses Herzog

      Technically Manfred, you’d have to survey the Economics Dept faculty at Harvard to know for sure. But….. I suspect >85% avidly read all of the WSJ “front-to-back” 6 days a week (can I say “front to back” if they probably read it from a laptop??). All except one part of the WSJ, the part of WSJ not beholden to FACTS—that’s right, the part you quoted, the editorial section.

      Thanks for playing antenna TV’s “Ineffective Scorn for Academics”. Pick up your free board game version at the exit.

      1. pgl

        Robert Barro is a member of the Harvard faculty. Does Manfred think Barro is a socialist?

        Greg Mankiw is a member of the Harvard faculty. Mankiw’s a commie? Excuse me?

        1. Moses Herzog

          @ pgl
          Excellent point, one I have to admit had escaped me. Often the case in large faculties. I would wager UW-Madison has a couple “outlier” conservatives. Maybe Menzie would enlighten us. I dare say Professor Rosser, if he wasn’t in a better place now, would have filled us in on who those UW-Madison political “outliers” would be.

    4. Noneconomist

      Manny’s back! Hard workin’ provide for the family Manny who insisted has little time to comment here. Or so he said before unloading more than a few over the last few days. And he’s apparently now a southerner too. Y’all know that, right?
      Well, looks like he now has time to take on those fussy Havahd folks who just don’t seem to understand markets the way Manny does.
      Dern elitists, don’t you know! They caint hold a candle to a a common sense horse trader like Manny.
      Settle back now, y’all. Watch Manny work, he’ll be a leavin’ soon to return to the real world.
      Kids gotta eat, and daylight’s burnin.

      1. Moses Herzog

        Funny. Hahahaha. Need the late night laughs like that after Letterman retired. You need to joke write for Kimmel dude.

  7. Macroduck

    Housekeeping –

    The main page indicates 6 comments. When I click through, there are only 2, and the counter indicates “2”.

    Not the first time it has happened. Timing suggests it’s something to do with the new blog platform.

    1. Moses Herzog

      I get this also, it’s not “terribly annoying” or even “bothersome”, but I do notice it. I say if it doesn’t effect the functionality of the blog, if I was them I’d leave it alone. The old, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. You go in and fix something minor like this, they’re apt to have 3 new problems after they fix that one that’s really just superficial. But I do think it’s good to let them know like you did.

  8. Macroduck

    Housekeeping Part 2 –

    Several efforts to view the page dis not resolve the problem, but sending Part 1 did. Maybe I have a cache problem, but timing still suggests a blog platform problem.

  9. baffling

    desantis in florida is making a very strong case for the expansion of government regulation, and big government in general. for all of you pining after desantis, careful what you wish for. if it is ok for desantis to crucify disney and the esg companies, then the merits of a free market economy no longer apply. desantis is far more like a xi in china than any conservative has recognized, today. it is hard to criticize xi and promote desantis in the same sentence, and yet that is exactly what is happening in the right wing echo chamber…

    1. Macroduck

      Clear and accurate. Should be part any primay opponent’s stump speech, if that primary opponent is of the “business Republican” ilk. Problem is, Republcan primary voters haven’t been all that supportive of “business Republican” candidates lately. Culture-war Republicans are in vogue, and to hell with markets. And education – which bothers the crap out of business Republicans. And “diversity” – which bothers the crap out of business Republicans.

      Cards on the table – My old daddy worked in the Reagan administration as a political appointee. I worked for a Republican Lt Governor and a Republican Congressman. I know what a business Republican looks like, cause I grew up with one and worked for two of them.

      By the way, my old daddy despised Gingrich and quit the party when Shrub was elected. Said the party had abandoned its principles, and he was right. These new guys are fit to shine Dick Lugar’s shoes.

  10. Bruce Hall

    Some companies understand their place in America and prosper as a result of how well they are run, not to whom they signal their virtue. They provide economic benefit to their customers in the most efficient and excellent way they can while providing reward and security to their employees and gains to their shareholders.

    1. Moses Herzog

      I’m sorry…… I said I’m sorry Ma’am. Why didn’t they put mustard on your Costco hotdog?? I don’t know Ma’am. I’m very sorry Ma’am, can I give you a free hotdog to make up for it?? No?? You don’t want a free hotdog to make up for the error?? You want to talk to the manager?? Ok Ma’am, Yes Ma’am. You said your full name is Karen Hall??? Karen Hall?? OK, OK, Karen. I will get the manager, I will get the manager Karen. Please calm down, don’t throw the scissors at my N-95 mask!!! Please don’t thrown the scissors at my N-95 mask Karen!!! I’m going to get the manager now Karen. Calm down, please. Karen please don’t throw the scissors.

      1. pgl

        I bet Brucie boy will be disappointed that CostCo contributed $1.5 million to Democrats in 2020. I wonder how much this helped Biden against Trump. And color me shocked that Kelly Anne Conway did not tell her Steno Sue (Brucie boy) about this!

    2. Moses Herzog

      BTW, Karen Hall, were you against political leaders attempting to censor comedy shows?? Or are you that far gone now in your mental playworld, you now think MAGA Republicans have the right to control jokes in America now??

      Did you want to phone the FBI next time some girl at the bar made a fat joke about you Karen Hall?? ‘Cuz I got the strange feeling you could lose a few pounds. Did you want to phone the Feds next time some girl called you “Fatty”?

      1. pgl

        “IN EARLY 2018, the American national security apparatus was fixated on reports that North Korea was building nuclear weapons that could reach the U.S. or that Russia was plotting chemical weapons assassinations in Europe. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump was busy targeting his idea of an enemy of the state: late night host Jimmy Kimmel. The then-president, according to two former Trump administration officials, was so upset by Kimmel’s comedic jabs that he directed his White House staff to call up one of Disney’s top executives in Washington, D.C., to complain and demand action. (ABC, on which Jimmy Kimmel Live! has long aired, is owned by Disney.)
        In at least two separate phone calls that occurred around the time Trump was finishing his first year in office, the White House conveyed the severity of his fury with Kimmel to Disney, the ex-officials tell Rolling Stone. Trump’s staff mentioned that the leader of the free world wanted the billion-dollar company to rein in the Trump-trashing ABC host, and that Trump felt that Kimmel had, in the characterization of one former senior administration official, been “very dishonest and doing things that [Trump] would have once sued over.”

        Imagine that – Trump did nothing to stop Kimmy’s nuclear threats to the rest of East Asia but a few jokes from Jimmy Kimmel has this egomaniac ready to declare war.

    3. pgl

      “As a company, we respect the choices our members make, so we do not take positions on social issues, we are not involved in partisan politics, and we do not contribute money to political candidates or issues.”

      So sweet I guess. But what – they are not touting your Stop the Steal, COVID is fake, drill baby drill garbage? Same on them.

      1. Bruce Hall

        No, I think good environmental practices can be both profitable and responsible at the same time. Costco spends a lot of effort and money to design packaging that is the absolute minimum required for transportation, inventory space requirements and damage control, and sales displays. Consequently, there are significant savings associated with reduced packaging, transportation weight, and waste storage/disposal. It’s not either/or. If there was no return on investment, you could be sure it wouldn’t be done.

        You might note that Costco extensively uses plastic wrapping rather than cardboard for packaging. That’s petroleum rather than wood (renewable) based. Is that “anti-sustainable” or a rational compromise?
        While we recognize that recyclability of egg cartons is an increasing challenge for some of our members, we also prioritize reducing food waste in our supply chain.

        1. pgl

          “No, I think good environmental practices can be both profitable and responsible at the same time.”

          Wait – at first you told us CostCo did not do any of this or made any political contributions. Now that you original claim has shown to be false – you take an entirely different view. Snake oil sales people have more integrity than Bruce Hall.

      2. pgl

        “This Sustainability Commitment explains the efforts and steps we are taking to achieve our global sustainability goals. This includes updates for our fiscal year 2022. With nearly 850 warehouses around the world, we understand the impact we have on environmental and sustainability issues globally. Through focusing on initiatives such as our Climate Action Plan and our STAR program for our operators, we believe we can play a positive role in helping the world face these most pressing issues. While we see progress in many areas, we are committed to continuous improvement across all elements of our business: people and communities, operations and merchandise. As always, we thank our employees, suppliers, members and the communities where we operate for their continuing support as we work together to help our world thrive.
        — Craig Jelinek, CEO”

        Damn – Brucie boy once again completely missed the boat.

        Ah Brucie – supporting Democrats and backing the Sustainability Commitment. Oh my Brucie – you need to start a shareholder lawsuit and oust the reponsible CEO for the good of MAGA land!

  11. Macroduck

    Project Syndicate has Frans Timmermans on why we must end the war quickly by arming Ukraine sufficiently to defeat Russia, and the widely-hated Richard Haas on why the war will just drag on:

    The Haas view is a strong argument for the Timmermans view.

    1. JohnH

      Outside the Overton Window: “Ukrainian fighters at Bakhmut reported encircled.” If Bryden is right, the situation is hardly the “Ukraine is winning” narrative promoted endlessly and shamelessly by the establishment media.

      Given his impressive credentials, Bryden can hardly be characterized as Putin’s poodle.

      Thanks for going off topic, Ducky.

      1. pgl

        “Chances of escape or counteroffensive diminishing as Wagner mercenaries take major stronghold Yahidne”

        The Wagner mercenaries are about as disgusting war criminals as the world knows. Of course Jonny boy is all excited that he gets to see more Ukrainian children killed and more women raped.

        Jonny boy has no soul. None whatsoever.

      2. Macroduck

        The Johnny narrative, at its simplest:

        “Somebody said a thing I like. I win!”

        Johnny behavs as if the deah of Ukranians, economic analysis, apparently just about everything, is a rhetorical spat. Sad little man.

    2. pgl

      That Stephen Bryen story that little Jonny boy linked to makes the case for the Timmermans view even stronger. Of course little Jonny boy can’t see that as he is too busy lusting for more dead Ukrainians.

    3. pgl

      Oh wow – Putin is lying to his pet poodle (JohnH):

      More of Russia’s soldiers have died in Ukraine — a war Putin thought would be over in days — than in all its wars since World War II combined, new analysis finds
      More Russian soldiers have died in combat in Ukraine than in all of its wars since World War II combined, a new analysis has revealed.
      According to a brief from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), between 60,000 and 70,000 Russian soldiers have been killed on the battlefield in Ukraine. Moscow’s troops are dying each month at a rate “at least 25 times the number killed per month in Chechnya and 35 times the number killed in Afghanistan,” the analysis said, citing two particularly deadly wars for Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, respectively.

      Poor little Jonny – the release of this news means Putin will not give his pet poodle any bones or treats for the next several months. Hey Jonny – if you starve in the Kremlin, no one is going to miss you.

  12. pgl

    Ukraine strikes out taking down a Russian oil depot:

    A fire broke out at a coastal oil facility in southern Russia in the early hours of Tuesday, the aftermath of a possible drone strike by Ukraine deep into enemy territory. Details on the attack were difficult to come by: Fires broke out in the early morning, as videos and photos that lit up Russian social media appeared to show. Neither Ukrainian nor Russian authorities verified the incident as an attack, though Russian outlets said drones were seen near the oil facility, run by government-controlled oil giant Rosneft. But an expert told Insider that Ukraine has the equipment to carry out such a strike. Similiar strikes, such as two on Russian air fields in December, have been attributed to Ukraine. Local authorities said that the fire, at Tuapse oil depot on the Black Sea coast, spread to an area of around 200 meters square before being put out at around 3 a.m. local time.
    Tuapse is roughly 300 miles from the nearest Ukrainian-held territory as the crow flies.

    Oh my Ukraine is defending itself! JohnH is going to lose it over this incident. After all – he tells women never to take self defense classes as he actually thinks rapists have every right to attack the ladies without any fear of the woman hitting back. After all attractive women are just asking to be raped according to JohnH.

    1. JohnH

      Mt. Trashmore erupts again spewing garbage and BS everywhere…even accusing people of supporting rapists. To my knowledge, even Joe McCarthy didn’t stoop that low.

      Apparently no heinous and baseless allegation is too low for pgl. It seems only to take a little dose of reality…doubting the official narrative…to set Mt. Trashmore off!

      1. pgl

        “The Johnny narrative, at its simplest: “Somebody said a thing I like. I win!” Spot on

        ‘even accusing people of supporting rapists’

        You support the Putin war crimes which includes lots of rapes. So my accusations are spot on. QED,

        Get over it Jonny boy – everyone knows you are the most disgusting pig God ever created.

  13. pgl

    What to make of Kazakhstan:

    The US is increasingly supporting Kazakhstan, one of Russia’s closest allies, as cracks appear in the nation’s relationship with its larger neighbor following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    The move could be a worrying development for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who launched his attack on Ukraine partly over fears that NATO was moving closer to its borders.

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the central Asian country on Tuesday, where he said that the US “strongly supports Kazakhstan’s sovereignty, its independence, its territorial integrity,” according to news agency AFP. This came after some of Russia’s outspoken propagandists had suggested that Russia should look to Kazakhstan next. One notable Russian TV commentator, Vladimir Solovyov, said in November that his country “must pay attention to the fact that Kazakhstan is the next problem, because the same Nazi processes can start there as in Ukraine.”

    Kazakhstan has opposed Putin’s invasion of Ukraine which of course has angered pro Putin war criminals. This Nazi garbage is just another Putin lie which suggests maybe Putin wants to invade Kazakhstan. Now only the dumbest troll would suggest our support of Kazakhstan is forcing Putin to invade. Oh wait – JohnH would suggest that which of course means he is really one dumb troll.

    1. JohnH

      Wishful thinking by neocons. Tokayev owes his job and probably his life to Putin for helping suppress a Color Revolution. Nonetheless Kazakhstan is in a difficult situation, it’s resources coveted by three major powers. OTOH Tokayev is in a great position to play the major powers off against each other…with China being in the best position.

      pgl can only put a Ukraine spin on this, unable to see reality beyond the end of his nose.

      1. pgl

        The Color Revolution you say?

        The speed with which Russia dispatched troops this week to help quell violent demonstrations in neighboring Kazakhstan is testimony to the Kremlin’s recurring fear of “color revolutions,” say Western diplomats and analysts. Moscow, they say, must have been horrified by how quickly the protests spread in Kazakhstan, long seen as one of the most stable of the former Soviet countries…Russian officials and pro-Kremlin media have claimed the West is behind the agitation and is trying to foment another color revolution with the goal of disorienting Russia ahead of its major security talks next week with the United States and NATO amid fears the Kremlin may be considering invading Ukraine.

        Your master Putin is losing his grip over people who despise his dictatorial rule. But of course he still has disgusting little pet poodles like JohnH who will blame the west of Putin’s war crimes. Let me repeat Jonny boy – you are devoid of a soul.

        1. JohnH

          VOA News? A propaganda outfit if there ever was one.

          Speaking of propaganda, Patrick Lawrence writes: “ During one of the periods of Soviet–American détente in the 1970s, the State Department offered to take two Foreign Ministry bureaucrats on a tour of the United States. They visited five cities — New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco — with the minders from State taking care to show their guests the sort of things minders from State would want Soviet visitors to see. A certain camaraderie developed. It is nice to think about the scene, impossible as such occasions have become.

          When they reached San Francisco and it was time to say farewell, the State Department’s shepherds asked the two Soviets what aspects of American life they found most remarkable. The Sovs seem not to have hesitated before replying.

          In the Soviet Union, they said, all the newspapers across 11 time zones say the same thing every day because they are carefully censored. They are told routinely what to say and what to leave out. Here in America the press is free. We have seen no sign of censorship in all the cities you have shown us. And yet wherever we are, when we pick up a newspaper they, too, say the same thing. From New York to California, nothing we have read is ever any different.”

          It’s actually worse than that. I’ve noticed that major European news outlets pick up the US foreign policy narrative du jour and display it prominently. When I first started going to Mexico it was the same there. More recently newspapers there bury US stories deep inside. Apparently Mexicans are more concerned with what’s happening in Mexico than with reading about the US’s bogeyman del dia. Maybe they’re regaining their sovereignty?

      2. pgl

        China being in the best position? Dude – you are clueless:

        Beijing [China], August 8 (ANI): Chinese President Xi Jinping is fearful that his country is going to face a “colour revolution”, a phrase that encompasses a set of political changes across the postcommunist world which include popular uprising and public anger over corruption and inequality, both of which China has in abundance, media reports said.

        Gee Jonny boy must be fearful that his Communist dictators may be faced down by people striving for freedom. On no – that should never happen as in a free society might just tell little Jonny boy no more doggie treats.

        1. JohnH

          Apparently pgl knows absolutely NOTHING about China’s relations with Kazakhstan…or of Russia’s.

          FYI Kazakhstan is a founding member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation along with Russia and China. But pgl thinks that Blinken can just waltz in, snap his fingers, and Tokayev will kiss his ring and create problems for Russia!!! Talk about delusional…but that’s our ignorant pgl!

          Time for pgl to educate himself by reading something besides US propaganda:

          1. pgl

            “reading something besides US propaganda”

            From the pet poodle who peddles Putin propaganda 24/7.

          2. pgl

            “Energy, mining, transport and logistics are the main sectors of cooperation between China and Kazakhstan, especially since 2013, when two countries established an investment framework under the Belt and Road Initiative.”

            All this says is that they trade with each other. So did Russia and Ukraine. I guess trading with each other means the larger nation is allowed to annex the smaller nation which is what your poor Putin is doing. By your demented logic, the US should occupy Mexico, kill all the Mexican children, and rape the old ladies. Which is what your fellow Putin pigs are doing.

  14. Erik Poole

    It is odd how the corporate doctrine of ESG has morphed into an ‘us versus them’ culture war.

    ESG is absolutely essential for most of the resource companies I invest in/trade. Especially the ‘environmental’ and ‘social’ parts. (I would like to see more work done on the ‘governance’ part but that is yet another discussion.)

    In Colombia and many other developing countries, the state exercises little or sometimes no control in large areas of the countryside. Americans should understand this because the US occupying forces and allies never controlled large parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor does the US state control many inner city areas in continental USA.

    In these kinds of situations, multi-national resource companies end up providing some public goods and services that would typically be supplied by the state in rich, developed countries. Schools, clinics, scholarships, irrigation systems, and so on. They are indeed ‘side payments’. Many will wonder if they are ‘bribes’ but the benefits are generally targeted at large numbers of people who live in poverty, not individuals who seek to enrichen themselves.

    In British Columbia, it is becoming exceedingly difficult to open up a greenfield mine in the southern portion of the province due to NIMBY movement. Oddly enough, it is much easier to commission greenfield and brownfield mines in the central and northern portions of British Columbia if the local First Nation community is brought on side.

    The days of imposing resource development on First Nation communities and others are over. Half of Americans might have voted for zero-sum economics in the last presidential election, but approach no longer works particularly well even if stomping on others with big boot heels remains popular with many if not most North Americans.

    Farmers and ranchers in British Columbia continue to hammer watersheds important to migratory Pacific salmon. Pacific salmon constituted roughly 40% of the diet of coastal and in-river First Nations pre- and early contact. Many BCers, just like Americans, appear to believe that trashing if not literally destroying watersheds is justified so, and I quote ,”People can eat”. It makes sense. If you hate eating fish, why eat salmon when hamburgers and potato chips along with processed foods are popular? Then I am not investing in this zero-rent and negative rent activities. Recall that agriculture is the most heavily subsidized sector in North America.

    Commercial fisheries such as salmon and herring have been perennial wealth destroyers. Open access recreational fishing is a zero rent industry (at best) but could be viewed as the most economic damaging sector in the province to the extent that it constantly insults and humiliates First Nations. Taking fisheries from First Nations here in BC was not one of Canada’s finer colonial accomplishments.

  15. Erik Poole

    Ron DeSantis just provided us with an example of the difference between legal rights and economic property rights (see Disney World). He reminds me of Neo-Marxist guided populist Caudillos in South America.

    It is curious that highly democratic, freedom-loving Americans believe that a policy solution is necessary for ESG investing. Mind you that fits with the currently trendy elbows up Neo-Mercantilism approach to investment and trade. I doubt this trend will solve deep, thorny structural economic issues in the USA. Nor will it alleviate the opioid crisis. It is a shame that so many Americans appear to have lost faith in freemarket capitalism and international trade and investment.

  16. Econned

    I’m with Milton Friedman. But Governor DeSantis’ proposed legislation will seek to prohibit big banks (what about small banks???), credit card companies, and money transmitters from discriminating against customers for their religious, political, or social beliefs. It will also seek to prohibit State Board of Administration (SBA) fund managers from considering ESG factors when investing the state’s money. The proposed legislation will require SBA fund managers to only consider maximizing the return on investment on behalf of Florida’s retirees. These all seem to be reasonable. The approach to enforce these goals should be what’s at question.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ Econned
      Would you like to tell us which (as in name names) FDIC member banks had refused someone a savings account, checking account, credit card etc for “religious, political, or social beliefs”?? You and Manfred are so g*ddamned busy creating nonexistent/fictional enemies, you forgot to look around to see if there was a single real enemy.

      Oh clueless Econned, name us ONE FDIC bank customer who was refused services/ an account because of the aforementioned.

  17. JohnH

    I speak several languages, so I have followed several foreign outlets. The similarity among American TV, BBC and France24 in their coverage of major foreign stories is uncanny. It is as if they are reading from the same script with the same spin, tailored slightly for the local audience. Even Al Jazeera, whose reporting had been independent (and a thorn to many,) fell in line about ten years ago.

    When highly respected former international correspondents for leading news organizations start sounding the alarm over media censorship, it’s time to pay attention.

    That’s why a lot of what I read is from sources outside of the Western media bubble…Asia Times, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, Indian Punchline, El Akhbar, etc.

    1. pgl

      “I speak several languages, so I have followed several foreign outlets.”

      Let’s all bow down to JohnH the Genius. Oh wait – you can’t even read a Krugman oped at the Irish Times. Was he writing in Gaelic.

      Come on Jonny boy – we all know you are a fraud.

      1. Moses Herzog

        As Menzie pointed out, the guy can’t differentiate the style of writing/messaging between OAN, The Guardian, and NY Post, but he knows “several” languages?? At the very best he knows two, Russian and English.

        1. pgl

          Remember C3PO? I think he spoke several languages but that did not make this droid all that smart.

        2. Noneconomist

          Ol’ JH really knows his stuff. I certainly can’t tell the difference from what’s being said by Laura Ingraham and Michelle Wallace because Fox and MSNBC are so closely aligned.
          Jake Tapper-Sean Hannity? Verbatim bloviators.
          Lou Dobbs-Wolf Blitzer? Can’t tell ‘em apart.
          Many thanks JH for reminding us once again how superior that multi-lingual brain of yours is and how the rest of mere mortals are continually shamed by your superior intellect and your wide ranging “scholarly” pursuits.

    2. pgl

      Patrick Lawrence? Excuse me but didn’t he also write:

      ‘A Russian defeat in Ukraine would be a direct threat to its security, sovereignty, and altogether its survival. These are legitimate causes. What people would not defend themselves against such a threat — especially given Washington’s long record of subterfuge in nations, not least the Russian Federation, that insist on their independence.’

      Oh yea the existence of a free Ukraine is a threat to the security, sovereignty, survival of Russia? Congrats Jonny – you have found someone else who has gone as bonkers as you are. Or maybe Patrick Lawrence is also on Putin’s payroll,

    3. Noneconomist

      I speak several languages…of course you do, Don Juan H. Who, pray tell, would ever think otherwise?
      How else can you dream the impossible dream while fighting the unbeatable foe without truth, justice and a trove of “highly respected international correspondents” on your side?
      Viva Don Juan H! El campion de las patrioticas en todas partes!

      1. pgl

        Me thinks JohnH speaks Nadsat – the language of the teenage gang members in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Thinks of a Russian-influenced English.

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