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Old 09-27-2009, 07:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Ethical investing

Well, I'm not exactly rich (unless by third-world standards), but I do have a little bit of money stashed for when I'm even less rich. Putting it in a sock isn't the best idea, so I've had it on a bank account, with interest barely above inflation. But recently I've been thinking more and more about my impact on the rest of the world, what I can change and how. I'm finding out very interesting (though not always nice) things about how the world 'works', and I'm talking about this with my friends asking them questions which make you think, and I'm becoming a pain in the arse because of this, etc. ad nauseam. By totally random accident I read Margrit Kennedy's book "Interest and Inflation Free Money" (ISBN:0-9643025-0-0) and watched the Austrian documentary by Erwin Wagenhofer "Let's Make Money" on the same day, and since then I'm worried about what the bank does with my money (BTW: "Let's Make Money" is really good). The interest I get for my money comes from somewhere, and the bank is also making a profit, but where does that money come from?

Maybe some of you have had similar dilemmas with your investments? Which bank to choose, which stocks, etc.? It seems to me that the most money can be made by investing in oil, but that's like voting 'YES' for the next oil war. Or would it be ethical to invest in oil, but use all the money I make to fight Big Oil, invest into raising efficiency and renewable energy? Can I donate money made on nuclear stocks to an anti-nuclear organization, or invest in Monsanto to donate the interest to an organic gardening cause? Or should I keep my money as far away from that as possible and put money into an RE company, giving a profit not greater than inflation?

In the long term I'd like to buy a wind genny and sell surplus electricity, but that's somewhere over the horizon - we want to buy some land first. Until then I'd like to do something with the puny savings I have. Any thoughts?

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Old 09-27-2009, 10:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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In the third world there is some scheme which lends to poor people with no collateral who are starting enterprises. India I think.

Its been going for years and is very safe and well managed from what I HEARD.

I'm like you, money in the bank, waiting to buy land. Why dont we just buy land now? Probably a good time to buy? NZ property prices havnt bounced back but it could. Or get cheaper.

Some stocks could be awesome money earners and be really cool companies that you could be proud of? Health and environment products?

Stocks come down to buying either good ideas, good products, good people managing, or ideally a combination. Management is probably a top priority.
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Good questions - and ones that I myself have asked as well.
I'm watching to see what happens in the next couple of years, and hoping that electric cars really do become mainstream.
I'd like to invest in battery technology and renewable energy.

As far as investing in oil, .......( as you yourself said ) ..... that's like buying the bullets used to kill people in some distant war.
Even if you were to use the money you make to 'fight' BigOil, the impact that we make is miniscule.
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Old 09-27-2009, 10:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I meant to mention that BleFlame . A very beneficial way to help people.

Microcredit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


http://www.kiva.org/
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I read about microcredit and am now not so sure about the overall ethics of it all.

I dont think one needs to invest in mainstream blue chip stocks, take the profit, to then finance more eco friendly companies, that one feels good about. Surely good companies exist? No?
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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There are things known as SRIs, which is what I think you're looking for: Socially-responsible investing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If you look up "socially responsible investing" you'll find a few sites with guides, like this one: SocialFunds.com: The largest personal finance site devoted to socially responsible investing
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I lost an astonishing amount playing the stock market.

Would have been better off investing in beer.



Might consider just buying the things you want or safely parking it. The rule of "don't gamble with money you can't afford to lose" definitely applies.

And don't think investing losses can't happen to you.
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I've been dealing with this dilemma for myself as well. Ben mentioned SRI's which are completely useless if you are really concerned about being socially responsible - many mutual funds' ideas of socially responsible mean excluding alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. Although there are a fair share of dirty businesses involved with the aforementioned, I'd much rather invest in any of them than Monsanto - AWFUL company btw. Dirt on that is easy to find. I've found that if you really want to invest in a mutual fund or a Roth IRA, its flat out impossible to find one that is actually socially responsible. The best thing you can do short of managing all of your stocks (which I've chosen to end up doing soon) is to find the lesser of all evils, pick your poison and as they say "ride the wave in, and clean the beach later." If you are going to be using that money to do socially responsible things; things to help people, I feel that's much better than just sitting on a mutual fund and sucking it dry by using it for some food and a condo for your retirement.
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVOboy View Post
If you look up "socially responsible investing" you'll find a few sites with guides...
The problem here is that "socially responsible" is such a slippery term. Your idea of social responsibility may not be the same as mine, and both of ours might be quite different from what a particular fund that labels itself "socially responsible" to attract investment.

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