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Matt Levine

Nobody Wants Russian Assets

Also ESG weapons, Musk brother trading, elliptical gaming and exotics market structure.

A common problem in environmental, social and governance investing is that if you own stock in a coal company, and you care about ESG, so you sell that coal company stock, you are sort of by definition selling it to someone who does not care as much about ESG.  And then what? It is fairly straightforward to say “I care about ESG, so if someone comes to me looking to raise money to open a coal mine, I won’t give it to her.” That’s not what you’re doing. Selling publicly traded stock on the secondary market is not quite the same as refusing to fund new activities. They are related. There is, you hope, some long-term effect: Your refusal to buy coal companies on the secondary market will lower the expected returns on opening a coal mine, leading to less coal mining in the long run. But in the short run it means that people who like coal mines can buy them cheap, and then the coal mines will all be owned by people who like coal mines.

Anyway here is a good Bloomberg News article about how “Anyone Selling Russian Assets Faces Few Options, Big Losses.” One problem is: Who is buying?