Invest with Greens or Sinners?

By Mary Brown,

I was sipping a soy latte after doing yoga on my recent eco-vacation and I started pondering a question: With the world turning “green”, wouldn’t it make sense to invest in green energy and divest from those evil, sinful companies? I gave it some serious thought and when I got home and, after I paid for my carbon offsets, I ran some numbers with some help from my hedge fund friends.

First, we identified publicly traded companies that operate in the renewable energy sector. I’ll call them the “Green Group”. We came up with these stocks…

Ascent Solar Technologies Inc

Ballard Power Systems Inc

Brookfield Renewable Partners

Canadian Solar Inc

Enphase Energy Inc

First Solar Inc

Gevo Inc

Green Plains Inc

JA Solar Holdings Co

Ocean Power Technologies Inc

Renesola Ltd

Renewable Energy Group Inc

SunPower Corp

Sunrun Inc

Vivint Solar Inc

Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co Ltd

Our second group we called “Sin Stocks”. These companies make chemicals and alcohol and guns and promote gambling. The list also includes defense stocks, “Big Pharma” and of course, the dreaded “Big Oil”. This list was bigger ….

Alliance One International Inc

Altria Group Inc

American Outdoor Brands Corporation

Anadarko Petroleum Corp

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co

Basic Energy Services Inc

Boston Beer Co Inc. (The)

Boyd Gaming Corp


British American Tobacco PLC

Caesars Entertainment Corp

Chevron Corp

Church & Dwight Co. Inc.

Coca-Cola Co (The)

Constellation Brands Inc

CoreCivic Inc

Craft Brew Alliance Inc

CV Sciences Inc

Diageo PLC

Dow Chemical Co (The)

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co

Eli Lilly and Co

Encore Capital Group Inc

Exxon Mobil Corp

FirstCash Inc

General Dynamics Corp

General Electric Co

Halliburton Co

Healthier Choices Management Corp

Las Vegas Sands Corp

Leucadia National Corp

Lockheed Martin Corp

McDonald’s Corp

MGM Resorts International

Molson Coors Brewing Co

Monsanto Co

Northrop Grumman Corp

Occidental Petroleum Corp

Oshkosh Corp

PepsiCo Inc

Pfizer Inc

Philip Morris International Inc

Phillips 66

Raytheon Co.

RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc

Schweitzer-Mauduit Intl Inc

Sturm Ruger & Co Inc.

Surna Inc

Syngenta AG, Basel

United Technologies Corp

Universal Corp

Valero Energy Corp

Vector Group Ltd

Western Alliance Bancorporation

World Acceptance Corp

Wynn Resorts Ltd

To compare the two groups, were ran stock performance back to Jan 1, 2008. That was our starting point because that is when there were enough Green stocks in the list to be significant. Also, it included the Great Recession. The graph below compares the Greens versus the Sinners with the S&P 500 plotted for good measure. Starting with $100 in each group, the Sinners finished with $245, the S&P with $168 and the Greens had $20. Being a sinner was 12 times more profitable.

Conclusion: People love to “sin”. It’s a good idea to invest in the companies that service them.

Notes… Not all stocks were included due to liquidity screens. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Airplanes may or may not be moved before 20 feet of sea level occurs.


Graph represents the value of $100 invested in each of three groups of stocks

129 thoughts on “Invest with Greens or Sinners?

      • @crackers345
        Well if you choose to kill those that don’t measure up to your standards of what makes “quality” humans I guess you get a good score on the LEI anyway…
        The rest of that index appears to be just so much relative nonsense.
        “The ethical question doesn’t rear its head too often in Denmark—but it does when you consider a particular statistic. Apparently, Danish women abort more foetuses that exhibit signs of Down Syndrome than anywhere else in the world. Between 95 and 98 percent of pregnant women terminate their pregnancy if they discover that the baby they’re carrying may be born with Down Syndrome. When compared with other countries (Norway, for example, sits at 80 percent), it’s hard to ignore this not-so-subtle difference.”
        Hooray for Norway. Hooray for Socialism.

      • Hmm there appears to be some disagreement as to the abortion rate / 1000 women:
        The report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports legalized abortion, puts the rate at 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (ages 15-44) in 2014. That’s the lowest recorded rate since the Roe decision in 1973. The abortion rate has been declining for decades — down from a peak of 29.3 in 1980 and 1981.
        Regardless, and my point was/is, for the moment it appears the U.S. still has something of a moral high ground over the “good” socialists in Norway, in that we don’t seem to have come to the point of killing 80% of those children we don’t find quite up-to-par, i.e., “acceptable” to our sensibilities.
        For the moment anyway.

      • Cracker, an important factor in all this is demographics. Certain cultures here in the states just aren’t doing very well. If that fact of the matter becomes accounted for, the US might fair better than is indicated. We’ve got a long way to go, no doubt and education is a big key. (we’ve got to find a way to help these cultures keep up)…

      • “Not one of those countries are socialist countries, everyone of them has a market economy.”
        Yes… and generally among the freest in the world. Many of them are more free to operate a business than the USA. Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe don’t fair too well. That’s what happens when there is no free-market resistance left. The obvious great experiment was when substantially similar countries split… Germany, Korea, China. Within one generation, the “human development Index” for West Germany, Taiwan, and South Korea dwarfed their Progressive (repressive) counterparts.
        The data is obvious. But does data matter?

      • When you define socialism as good for humanity, it’s hardly surprising that the countries with the most socialism will be highest on the list.
        Reminds me of a survey that rated which cities were the safest to live in. They used how much was spent on policing as the standard. That is, the cities that spent the most on police forces were graded the safest.

      • Never liked such indices without explanation. Several things have dramatically influenced the USA’s ranking on this list. HDI includes longevity but we are now do things like vaccinating fewer children then we have in decades. Countries like Norway might have a relatively high average income but it is unclear whether HDI counts the average before or after taxes. The length of education is counted and that is where we fall down again and have now for at least three decades through no fault of the average citizen. Economic development is also included but it is unclear whether this is GDP total, per capita, or whatever. And all of the top 10 countries are a little more than half the population of the USA. Besides the HDI was created by a UN economist from Pakistan. Not saying the guy might carefully establish a system to give greater emphasis to things important to a socialist or developing country vs a capitalist but it could be.

      • mark w: of course, this list does
        not define socialism as anything.
        it generally comes as a shock to
        americans to discover that citizens in many
        socialist countries have better lives than
        they do. you too, i see.
        ‘course, there’s already a good bit
        of socialism in the usa

      • “it generally comes as a shock to
        americans to discover that citizens in many
        socialist countries have better lives than
        they do. you too, i see.”

        Name three.

      • So? Now try looking at how diverse their populations actually are. What you’ll find is that those nations are far less diverse than the USA. Then look at the average lifespan by race/ethnicity. What you’ll find is that the USA’s average lifespan is lower primarily because we are a more diverse nation by far than those other nations – and that drops our score for the HDI. But even so we’re in the top 10, with MANY nations far lower than us on the scale, including the UK, France, Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Spain, etc., etc.

      • Rational – diversity isn’t an excuse
        for the US’s underperforming education system,
        health care system, high income
        inequality, high crime rate and the other
        factors that go into the HDI.
        so the US is more diverse. so what? that means
        we must accept that tens of millions of people
        have no access to affordable health care and
        good schools.
        the US underperforms because of the choices
        it makes, nothing more.

      • The research is in:
        Hong, Harrison, and Marcin Kacperczyk (2009) ‘The price of sin: The effects of social norms on markets.’ Journal of Financial Economics 93(1): 15-36.
        ‘Sinvestments’ outperform ethical investments.

      • Aynsley Kellow
        “‘Sinvestments’ outperform ethical investments.”
        In a free country, we are free to define for ourselves what “sin” is. As I define it, people providing a product or service for profit are the ethical heroes. Those who are rent-seeking and tax-sucking are the sinners.

      • @ Aynsley Kellow
        Just what are you defining as “ethical” vs. “sinful?” There’s nothing “ethical” about “green/renewable/sustainable/AGW” investments. They’re harmful even lethal to many right now, today, all to supposedly “save the planet” from something that the body of science doesn’t even support that is claimed MIGHT happen 100 years from now. What’s “ethical” about that?

  1. Frankly, I can’t think of a government subsidized group of companies that at some future date turned into high performing stocks. Maybe someone can, but I sure can’t.
    It seems that with government funding, the funding is accompanied by a flurry of regulations, that is, regulations imposed to keep track of tax payer’s money.
    Regulations imposed on what can and can’t be done.
    As the solar, wind, biofuel, the so called “sustainable energy” sectors have grown, their ability to wean themselves from government subsidies is not in evidence.
    I’ll look elsewhere to plunk down a few bucks for a reasonable rate of return, like certificates of deposit maybe, paying 1.3% annual return.

    • Frankly, I can’t think of a government subsidized group of companies that at some future date turned into high performing stocks. Maybe someone can, but I sure can’t.
      How about oil? Seems like they are doing well enough while still receiving more than their fair share of subsidies.

      • You’re not talking about Big Oil are you? Have you ever read ExxonMobil’s financial statements? Depreciation is not a subsidy? That company pays enormous taxes. Big oil is one of the most heavily tax industries in the world.

      • They are also one of th biggest receivers of corporate subsidies in America as well as one of the most profitable. I’ll concede that they pay a lot in taxes but I don’t believe it to be an unfair amount.

      • Those subsidies are not government grants or true subsidies at all. You’re merely parroting leftist disinformation. See here for better information.
        The huge “subsidy” canard is “is based on three major mistakes: it’s the entire energy industry, not oil; the estimate includes externalities, which are not subsidies; and most…tends to benefit consumers, not the industry.”

        • So does the oil industry get subsidized?
          Is the oil industry successful and profitable?
          I’m not debating the extent, amount, or whether or not they should be. The commenter I replied to simply states that he can’t think of a single industry that has turned into high performing stocks after receiving subsidizing.

      • Basic stuff some industries pay into the government, and therefore the government has money to spend on the people , some take money out of the government and therefore the government has less to spend on the people .
        Guess who takes and who gives ?

      • It really is fascinating how the trolls keep returning to the same lies.
        It’s almost as if they aren’t smart enough to think up new ones.
        If oil companies are being subsidized than every company in the world that uses depreciation allowances is also being subsidized.
        PS: All businesses are allowed to deduct business expenses. The only difference between other expenses and depreciated expenses is that other expenses can be fully deducted in the year they were experienced, while depreciated expenses have to be spread out over a number of years, which actually makes them less valuable.

      • Brad: if you get more from the government than you pay to it, your company is being subsized. If you pay more to the government than you receive from it, you are not; you are simply paying less taxes. Getting to keep more of the money you earned is not a subsidy, regardless of what anyone calls the individual components going into the final figures. Why do so many people have such a problem with this simple concept?

      • depreciation is not a subsidy, a subsidy is when you get something from the government not when you don’t pay as much to the government. Just so you know No Company pays taxes! You pay them when you use their goods or services, the BS about corporate taxation is just a way for the startist to taxes the poor and middle class with out them knowing they are being taxed.

      • depreciation is not a subsidy, a subsidy is when you get something from the government not when you don’t pay as much to the government. Just so you know No Company pays taxes! You pay them when you use their goods or services, the BS about corporate taxation is just a way for the startist to taxes the poor and middle class with out them knowing they are being taxed.

        Exactly, Bob.
        Any additional cost to my goods or services imposed by local, state or federal government entities (including the moronic payroll tax) are directly passed on to the consumer in my pricing!
        Corporations DO NOT PAY TAXES, YOU DO.

      • Others have already corrected your gross error – there aren’t much at all in the way of true subsides to the oil industry. The majority of what gets called subsides are a mixture of typical depreciation that all other industries and businesses also get and payments to poor citizens to help wtih their energy costs and so on. But the oil industry clearly pays massive taxes – often nearly as much in taxes as they earn in profits.

      • HUH?
        WAL-MART is subsidized by the govt?
        I have a government job. One of my (ex-)coworkers cashed in heavily on “govt assistance”.
        Are you claiming that because that govt employee milked the system, the govt is being subsidized by the govt?

      • yes. walmart doesn’t pay a livable wage.
        instead it lets its employees get
        the remainder from govt assistance,
        and uses that 6B to give to
        shareholders and corp owners.
        quite the scam

        • WalMart hires people on welfare/public assistance and helps them get OFF welfare/public assistance and you say that is bad. Tell me, Mr (SNIPPED), what is your big plan to get millions of people off welfare/public assistance? Oh, yea, your big plan is to force millions more ONTO welfare/public assistance and into poverty. Got it.

      • Gunga Din,
        In the UK for example more is paid in benefits such as income support to people working than to the unemployed. In essence every employee who pays minimum wage is relying on the government to top up their employees wages so that they have enough to live on. Similarly in the USA walmart employees still require food stamps in order not to starve. That counts as government subsidies in my book. And in general it is the reason why people campaign for a living wage rather than the minimum wage.
        More generally companies like Intel and Google has received massive government subsidies in the past in terms of research and defence contracts in order to become profitable.

        • Funny, WalMart targets people who are on welfare/public assistance for employment in order to help them get OFF welfare/public assistance and leftards criticize them for it. Very funny, indeed. WalMart also likes to hire retirees who are on SS, in order to help them since SS is insufficient for them to live on and they need more money. Leftards call that evil exploitation.

      • @Gunga Din
        I suspect crackers is taking a not-so-subtle jab at Wal-Mart for not paying their employees a “living wage” (whatever that figure is as of today), as he/she might believe they should.

      • crackers:
        The question seems odd. The US Treasury isn’t authorized to issue direct taxpayer funded payments to Wal-Mart shareholders under any provision I’m aware of.

      • Minimum wage is an economic farce. It’s “shifting boxes” by forcing base inflation. Poverty follows minimum wage.
        Living wage is only subjective. Anyone giving you a definition is seeking $$$.

      • Crackers, why would a comp0any be bothered to pay a living wage when it knows the government will top it up? If the government didn’t then all these low paid people would starve, seems you green folk should be against subsidies because you will then achieve your aim of a big reduction in the surplus population.

      • Walmart announced the closing of about 50 (??) stores, mostly in the SE, because of rising labor costs, IIRC.

      • Wal-mart pays it’s workers what their wages are worth. They are under no obligation to pay them more.
        In fact if they did pay them more, Wal-mart would go out of business and the welfare costs would go up even more.
        BTW, your example is evidence that govt welfare is too high, not that Wal-mart pays too little.

      • My first job was a low paying low skill job, I learned what working was about and was able to help my mom pay the bills. I am great full for that job opertunity and no it was only there because that was all my employer could afford to pay. All a living wage means is higher process for everyone, less entry level jobs for everyone and a lot more people on welfare and the resulting shrinking economy that makes everything and everyone’s lives worse.

      • @MarkW
        Actually, Wal-Mart may or may not pay some of it’s workers what they’re worth, in that they must pay all of them at an arbitrary, forced minimum wage.
        Were I able to pay employees what they were actually worth, I could likely pay more of them more than the current minimum wage by paying a few below it. It follows that those already making above minimum wage could also be paid more. As it stands now, however, I’m forced to budget for a bogus minimum that artifically keeps everyone’s wages lower.
        It should also be noted that this interference in the labor marketplace likely keeps product and services prices priced higher than they would be otherwise in many business sectors.

      • crackers345 August 31, 2017 at 9:07 pm
        yes. walmart doesn’t pay a livable wage.
        instead it lets its employees get
        the remainder from govt assistance,
        and uses that 6B to give to
        shareholders and corp owners.
        quite the scam

        Any employer is only obligated to pay their employees what they are worth.
        Maybe all the Wal-Mart employees should just quit in protest for having to work for a living?
        What has Wal-Mart ever done for anybody?

        • Other than employ people at good wages with solid benefits and corporate support while supplying a wide variety of reasonably priced products and services? Not a thing!

      • @Crack, let’s put aside for the moment whether or not walmart is getting some kind of subsidy, and talk about who benefits when walmart is profitable.
        I’d gather from your remarks here that you subscribe to the caricature of a “shareholder” that lives free of rent in the heads of so many of the sad followers of the economic theory that was devised to galvanize into “useful idiocy” a bunch of late-19th century illiterate peasants: A Scrooge McDuck kind of figure sitting in his vault on a stack of cash lighting his cigars with $100 bills and plotting new ways to exploit the underclass.
        In fact, those evil shareholders are teachers, policemen, firemen, nurses, bus drivers, call-center operators — mostly everyday people whose pension funds invest heavily in walmart shares.
        Why would you not want them to have a better life in an otherwise austere retirement through a little bit of wealth accumulated by owning part of a successful company? Would you consign them to misery in their golden years?

      • sy computing:
        if you can’t pay your employees
        enough to live on, you shouldn’t be in
        why should taxpayers subsidize
        your business, and hence your own

      • david j: i’m just pointing out the
        hypocrisy of many who have no problem
        with subsidizing corporations, but for some
        reason have a problem with doing the
        same for companies that make
        sustainable products and services.

      • What an utter load of hogwash. Walmart isn’t getting ANY government subsidies. That some of their employees get government assistance (food stamps, welfare, etc.) isn’t in any way a subsidy to the company. People like you trying to make such a claim is grossly dishonest and/or grossly ignorant.

      • sy computing:
        if you can’t pay your employees
        enough to live on, you shouldn’t be in

        You presuppose that the purpose of business is to provide employees some arbitrary standard of living. I deny the proposition.
        The sole purpose of any business is to serve it’s customers. It has no other ethical obligation.
        Furthermore, you seem to contradict your own morality. Why shouldn’t the young man across the street who just moved back in with his parents after a 2 year stint in prison be denied the opportunity to earn money by working for me for a few hours a week versus going on the public dole?
        For what I pay him he certainly could not pay rent, food, utilities, etc., on his own, however, he will have the satisfaction of not becoming a burden in his parents’ household. He will have the satisfaction of earning his own money, however meager. He will have the satisfaction of moving forward on his way to becoming a contributing member of society versus a subtracting member.
        And what of the retiree who’s only means of subsistence is her meager monthly social security check, and this insufficient to meet her needs? What gives you the moral authority to deny her the opportunity to work for me a few hours a week in order to earn enough money so that she doesn’t need to apply for social welfare?
        Don’t you contradict yourself? If not, why not?

        why should taxpayers subsidize
        your business, and hence your own

        Your question seems nonsensical. Again, the U.S. Treasury isn’t authorized to issue direct payments to my business from taxpayer funds.

      • sy computing – i’m quite sure you’re not
        only hiring those who live in their parent’s
        so what gives you the
        moral authority to expect taxpayers
        to prop up your employees’ income so it’s
        and by extension, your own?

      • sy computing – ps – believing
        a business has no ethical responsibilities
        but to “serve customers” is playing a outsized
        role in decline of society. it says anyone can
        pollute as much as they want, commit fraud,
        screw the poor, increase inequality etc etc.
        behavior is not excused just because one is
        acting through or via a business.

      • sy computing – i’m quite sure you’re not only hiring those who live in their parent’s

        Your certainty with regard to what you presuppose to be true is causing you to err. Your belief system is failing you. Better you should carefully test your presuppositions often and heartily before you believe them outright, lest you be shown to the world as a fool.
        In order to avoid addressing the argument that contradicts your premise regarding wages, you mock the young man who’s paid his debt to society and now wishes to leave the past for the future. That speaks volumes to your crisis of faith. It speaks to your need to build a Man of Straw and burn him down in order to attempt to avoid public embarrassment because you’ve been shown your folly and you don’t have an answer for it other than a logical fallacy.
        Have you succeeded? If so, how?
        You don’t address the question of whether or not it is better that this man work for less than a livable wage and thereby avoid the need for public assistance because addressing the question requires you to abandon your original argument and admit you were wrong. Such a thing is anathema to you. You’d rather continue in your folly, or at least pretend to do so. You’d rather play puppet to your presuppositions rather than acknowledge Truth.
        Why? Truth is a worthy pursuit in and of itself. The Truth will set you free.
        Is the woman on social security living in her “parent’s basement”, or are her parents long dead, in which case such couldn’t possibly be the case? Are her children caring for their own affairs and not for hers; her siblings in the same predicament as she? What do you “know” if anything regarding her example? Or does your “wisdom” actually belie your ignorance?
        You would do well to accept the counsel of one who’s already been where you are and suffered the consequences of his arrogance. And that counsel is, listen to those who are not so certain of that which you seem to know for sure, for you just might learn something that will serve you well in the days ahead.

    • Frankly, I can’t think of a government subsidized group of companies that at some future date turned into high performing stocks.

      Google, Tesla, Apple.
      After WWII, AT&T, RCA, GE, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
      Where do you think commercial companies get their best ideas from? Investing in some unproven unknown nerd on a hope and a whim? If you think private companies are the creators of new ideas, you’re naive.
      All of US technological advances have come from the US military and its group of scientists. Suggest you make yourself aware of American business history.

      • Not by my reading of history. Most innovations were by contractors except for nuclear weapons and power, and many of the actual production facilities in those areas were contracted out. It was government financing and serving as a customer, but not “government scientists”.

      • Almost every advance that the military has used was created by private companies before the military got involved. Look all the pieces of equipment that US had at the beginning of the war even though military spending was almost zero, private companies developed the equipment to sell to foreign nation. The famous Russian T34 tank was based on a design produced by Walter Christy here in the US, he peddled it to our military they said no thanks. Even though we had almost zero military power before we entered the war we were able to achieve almost parrady with the rest of the world in less than one year because of our technological and productive suppiriority almost all of which was private innovation. Socialist love to try and rewrite history but the fact is the US government “invested” almost nothing in anything because during our greatest era of expansion the federal government was tiny by today’s standards and had very little money to spend on anything. It was only after our accendancy because of private innovation that the government started to suck huge amounts of revinue out of the economy, by the way sucking growth, innovation and our advantage over the rest of the world with it.

      • The other day I watched a YouTube video on the Hawker Hurricane, at After the prototype was developed with government funding and successfully tested in 1935, the government wouldn’t contract to buy any of them. (This is at 5:00 in the video.) So the firm’s owner, realizing the more would be needed soon, financed the building of 150 more privately. The video claimed that without those 150 planes the Battle of Britain would have been lost.

      • Tom Halla, Bob boder, MarkW,
        Then read more.
        Read The Entrepreneurial State: debunking public vs. private sector myths by Economics Professor and researcher Dr. Mariana Mazzucato of the University of Sussex. She’s a dual American and Italian citizen. Watch the 50 sec. clips.
        An illustration from her 2015 ed. book, pg 116: “What Makes the iPhone so Smart?” Take a look. See who developed the technology Steve Jobs used. It wasn’t Apple.
        Her book is a treasure trove of hard data (in case studies) proving her point. (I’m not fond of her love of green energy, but it’s not the major thrust of what she has to say in any way.)

      • @MRW – the iPhone example. Yep, all of those technologies were (at least partially) funded by government. To the extent that those technologies served government purposes, mostly military.
        The very large investments required to make these technologies practical for commercial purposes – virtually nothing funded by the government.

      • The very large investments required to make these technologies practical for commercial purposes – virtually nothing funded by the government.

        Sure. But that’s not the point, Writing Observer.
        Of course the government would not fund the commercial side. Why? The point is that the federal government did fund the original R&D, and then dispensed the inventions to commercial firms who would make use of it.
        Mazzucato said that the government took all the risk and then the rewards went to a small group of private sector players who got all the dough for stuff they didn’t develop. She makes the excellent point that Google, whose technology was developed by the federal government, should at least be sharing a small portion of those rewards–like a royalty–with the public which would help pay for public infrastructure among other things. Why should a teenage Russian emigré and a kid from Michigan get all the money, the profits, without paying back the American people.

      • MRW:

        Why should a teenage Russian emigré and a kid from Michigan get all the money, the profits, without paying back the American people.

        Probably because what you’re talking about is going to be considered by the business as just another tax. Corporations don’t pay taxes, we do, therefore, however much you may wish to ask of Google, et al., to repay the “debt” you argue they owe, they never will. What they’ll do is simply apply the additional cost of the “morality tax” to their commercial product and service lines.
        In which case what have you done other than cause the end consumer to get shafted by forcing them to pay for the very remedy you argue the company owes the public in the first place?
        Thanks but no thanks. The argument seems irrational.
        Google doesn’t owe anybody anything over and above ensuring that their commercial offerings meet or exceed their contractual obligations to their end users.

    • RiH., I suspect that your notion, regarding govt subsidized entities — actually, such subsidies should be characterized as “taxpayer subsidies” — is largely true … and maybe [haha], in actual fact, one can herein use an adverb more appropriate than “largely”. Whatever, to me, the common sense explanation for this is intuitive and obvious: it is the underlying motivation. To wit:
      [1] entities, that is, those which are dependent largely on taxpayer-subsidies, are motivated primarily by finding some way to grab onto that govt teat — via either govt-provided hard-taxpayer-cash, special tax law or general favorable bureaucratic rules and regs — as their PRIMARY source of their income; while,
      [2] entities, which are in the free market capitalism camp, are motivated primarily by their competitive drive to provide, for their customers, a superior product.
      Note: in the meantime, regarding Brad’s comments below, for which I am not going to use a separate reply: [1] if petroleum companies are getting some sort of govt “subsidy” — which, technically, by virtue of the USA tax code, they are — these subsidies are nothing more than provided to any and all other companies. Yes, there are such things as MLP’s which are restricted largely — again, there’s that “largely” word — to the extractive industries, and a few other, markets, almost ALL other industries receive some sort of “special” governmental consideration [E.g., the “renewables” industry not only receives massive taxpayer subsidies, it also “enjoys” Bald and Golden Eagle killing rights … at a rate of 4200/year. To me, this rather large number is disheartening in view of their total population estimates. So, see obama-era, [finalized 2017], FWS “permission to kill”, a permission which would bankrupt/destroy any extractive-industry-type company.; and,
      [2] In consideration of such extractive industry “subsidies”, the “cash value” is near to naught in comparison with the sales volume of the myriad of products which collectively they provide; where, of course, petroleum and coal companies are a dying breed — they have been ever since the first barrel and/or shovel-full were extracted from the earth — continue to dwarf the societal contribution of many other industries, that is, such other industries which receive the same “subsidies”.

    • No, they did exactly what Barri wanted them to do, to his benefit. He entered office as a pauper, he is now a multi-millionaire, and Mooochelle has no choice other than to stick to him like a tick. For a “smart” lawyer she ain’t too intelligent.

    • …what is Interesting is how many received 100s of millions of dollars a year or two before going kaput, after they donated millions to Obama, and how little their finances were investigated.

      • Crackers, among lithium battery manufacturers, a quick google check showed no less than 9 failing in the past few years. These include A123, Aleva, Ener1, Valence tech, Altair nanotech, and the battery divisions of Panasonic, Sanyo and Bosch. Then there are solar panel manufacturers. You can look them up yourself.
        Of course, you may not know that companies working on new technology often fail. But to answer your ignorant question; a lot.

      • Crackers…
        The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:
        Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*
        SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
        Solyndra ($535 million)*
        Beacon Power ($43 million)*
        Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
        SunPower ($1.2 billion)
        First Solar ($1.46 billion)
        Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
        EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
        Amonix ($5.9 million)
        Fisker Automotive ($529 million)
        Abound Solar ($400 million)*
        A123 Systems ($279 million)*
        Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981)*
        Johnson Controls ($299 million)
        Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
        ECOtality ($126.2 million)
        Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
        Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
        Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
        Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
        Range Fuels ($80 million)*
        Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)*
        Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
        Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)*
        GreenVolts ($500,000)
        Vestas ($50 million)
        LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million)
        Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
        Navistar ($39 million)
        Satcon ($3 million)*
        Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)*
        Mascoma Corp. ($100 million)
        *Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.
        It has grown since publication.

      • Crackers…
        In the 1705 government-backed-loan program [alone], for example, $16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted as of Sept. 15 went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers—individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party. The grant and guaranteed-loan recipients were early backers of Obama before he ran for president, people who continued to give to his campaigns and exclusively to the Democratic Party in the years leading up to 2008. Their political largesse is probably the best investment they ever made in alternative energy. It brought them returns many times over.
        …The Government Accountability Office has been highly critical of the way guaranteed loans and grants were doled out by the Department of Energy, complaining that the process appears “arbitrary” and lacks transparency. In March 2011, for example, the GAO examined the first 18 loans that were approved and found that none were properly documented. It also noted that officials “did not always record the results of analysis” of these applications. A loan program for electric cars, for example, “lacks performance measures.” No notes were kept during the review process, so it is difficult to determine how loan decisions were made. The GAO further declared that the Department of Energy “had treated applicants inconsistently in the application review process, favoring some applicants and disadvantaging others.” The Department of Energy’s inspector general, Gregory Friedman, … has testified that contracts have been steered to “friends and family.”
        There were many others. All in all about 80 percent were contributors.
        A proper accounting of where all the money went was never done.

      • These programs might be the greatest—and most expensive—example of crony capitalism in American history. Tens of billions of dollars went to firms controlled or owned by fundraisers, bundlers, and political allies, many of whom—surprise!—continued to raise money for the O after going kaput.

      • David A,
        That’s the way the crackers crumble….. Excellent summary of the ‘green’ corruption promulgated during the Obama years!
        One small quibble: It wasn’t crony capitalism. It was crony socialism!
        The socialist Obama regime directed US taxpayer dollars to ‘green’ start up companies run by socialist Obama supporters. The companies then directed political contributions back to ‘foundations’ set up to allegedly enrich the Obamas. Truly, the Obama regime was picking ‘winners and losers’. They enriched themselves and their socialist friends, at the expense of the American taxpayer.

  2. To validly compare one needs to look at what stocks were available in 2008 Jan , without knowing the outcome.
    Then ‘purchase ‘ them.
    Today, ‘count the survivors’ and so calculate the true losses/ profits
    Then add in the opportunity cost for not spending on the failures.
    Stock indexes hide the decline caused by stocks going bust.
    A lot of green startups did just that.

    • You are correct. Survivorship bias was not considered in this study. The sinners likely all survived making the numbers even more dramatic than presented. Although we did use a lower limit of liquidity to exclude companies so that weeds out losers like an index.

  3. “Airplanes may or may not be moved before 20 feet of sea level occurs.”
    I guess photo-shopped pictures are more effective than I thought. Planes may not be moved in time to avoid a sudden flood, but 20 feet of sea-level rise is not going to happen overnight under any kind of climate-change scenario.

    • I think the post was along the line of blaming Texas wind mills for stealing the normal steering winds and causing Harvey to hover. ( Sarcasm)

    • That photo shopped picture was so amazingly stupid in so many ways. Know that the airlines are very good at protecting their working assets. If you want to know when to evacuate…don’t watch the local politicians. Watch the airlines. When they start to get their planes out of Dodge, it is probably a good idea to get out of Dodge yourself. Working commercial airplanes are the least likely thing to ever get caught in a flood.

  4. Saudi Arabia, Aramco, IPO. Great buy! Good things to come with young prince…slowly, but surely.

  5. One stock many Greens would think should be on the Green list is Tesla (symbol: TSLA).
    It IPO’d at $35/shr in March 2013 and is now up 10 fold to ~$355/shr today. It has never turned a profit and it continues to bleed capital at a fantastic rate. It’s stock performance to date is purely due to emotional belief not rational investing. The bond market is much more rational, and TSLA bonds are deep in junk territory rating wise, and TSLA pays a hefty yield dividend because it is junk.
    So you could include TSLA in the Green stock column, but again you’d be wrong in practice, but correct in virtue signaling.
    You’d be wrong in practice because EV’s, as has been blogged about many times here, only shift the carbon emissions elsewhere.
    From the Dow Jones NewsWire, August 18, 2017 (my Bold):

    “Want to fight climate change? Don’t invest in Tesla
    10:35 am ET August 18, 2017 (MarketWatch)
    By Ryan Vlastelica
    Building an electric car creates more CO2 than it saves, Morgan Stanley calculates
    Climate change is almost unanimously considered one of the gravest threats facing humanity, with the worst-case scenarios representing massive environmental destruction. Investors hoping to combat it with their portfolio allocations can, but one famous environmentally focused company may actually be doing more harm than good.
    Morgan Stanley identified 39 stocks that generate at least half their revenue “from the provision of solutions to climate change,” something it said was a central component of investing to make a difference, as opposed to just a making a buck.
    “In our view, impact investing needs to begin with companies whose products and services have a notable positive environmental or social impact,” wrote Jessica Alsford, an equity strategist at the investment bank.
    Not surprisingly, alternative-energy companies ranked the highest in terms of their positive impact, and the “top five climate-change impact stocks” were all manufacturers of solar and wind energy: Canadian Solar (CSIQ), China High Speed Transmission (0658.HK), GCL-Poly (3800.HK), Daqo New Energy (DQ), and Jinko Solar (JKS).
    Not among the top companies? Electric-car makers, including Tesla Inc. (TSLA). Elon Musk’s company has been an investor favorite for years, even eclipsing Ford Motor Co. (F) and General Motors (GM) in market cap.
    Tesla shares are up nearly 66% so far this year, but the good it may have been doing for portfolios may not translate to it doing good for the planet. Morgan Stanley said this was one of the “biggest surprises” of its study.
    The bank grouped the “climate-change impact stocks” into four sector categories: utilities, renewable manufacturers, green infrastructure companies and transportation stocks. It then analyzed them on a number of metrics, including “the CO2 [carbon dioxide] savings achieved from the products and services sold by the companies,” as well as secondary and tertiary factors centered around the environmental impact of the making of these products.
    This is where Tesla, along with China’s Guoxuan High-Tech (002074.SZ), fall short.
    “Whilst the electric vehicles and lithium batteries manufactured by these two companies do indeed help to reduce direct CO2 emissions from vehicles, electricity is needed to power them,” Morgan Stanley wrote. “And with their primary markets still largely weighted towards fossil-fuel power (72% in the U.S. and 75% in China) the CO2 emissions from this electricity generation are still material.”
    In other words, “the carbon emissions generated by the electricity required for electric vehicles are greater than those saved by cutting out direct vehicle emissions.”
    Morgan Stanley calculated that an investment of $1 million in Canadian Solar results in nearly 15,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide being saved every year. For Tesla, such an investment adds nearly one-third of a metric ton of CO2.”

    So much for Green wet dreams of EV’s saving the planet.
    (Disclosure: I am currently short on TSLA – holding Puts)

      • He’s referring to a rationally priced stock. TSLA clearly is not. It should be trading in range $50-$70/shr for the day in distant when it earns its first $1 profit, for an EPS of ~50. 50 is still a very expensive EPS, but it would allow for reasonable speculative growth.
        Make no mistake, TSLA at > $150 price is due to hype and it’s a bubble. At $350 it is catatrophe for the Mom and Pop investor. Sort of like the 1997-2000 dot-com internet stocks bubble. That was period of exorbitant stock value run-ups on negative earnings (losses). TSLA is in that same kind of bubble. The question is when will it deflate. And many Mom and Pop investors lost their retirement nest eggs on that one.

      • j O’b – no he wasn’t. he was referring
        to *the* stock price, raised by any
        means necessary.
        i couldn’t care less if you want to short
        tesla. clearly lots of people have
        made a lot of money from its 10x

      • No rational CEO wants their stock to go into an irrationally high bubble. It creates unrealistic expectations for future returns and guarantees failure.
        But Elon Musk is not rational. His Tesla company’s valuation (market cap) is guaranteed failure waiting to happen. But like the San Andreas Big One or the inevitable next Cascadia Rupture, forecasting a date for relaxation of pent-up stress is impossible.

      • WP seems to not let me post a comment apparently when using the Tesla CEO’s name in the post, at least in a negative context.

      • No rational CEO wants their stock to go a hyper bubble, rapid run-up. It creates huge unrealistic performance pressures.
        But then I’m not talking about a rational CEO at TSLA.

    • Teslas ‘s stock price and growth is due to subsidies supporting it. Take any failing company a give it billions and it will generate stock growth. Doesn’t mean it’s a viable company, in fact it’s generating its growth at a huge economic expense to the rest of the economy. Economic growth comes from efficient use of capital, just as using a block and tackle magnifies the effect of one person lifting effiecent use of capital magnifies wrath creation effecting everyone (“a rising tied raise all boats” JFK). Inefficient use of capital has a magnified negative effect as well and there is no greater system for waisting capatial then running it through the political garbage machine. Wealth creation is what gives us all the standard of living we have, like it or not it’s fact.

      • [T]o get a mass atrocity going you need idealism….
        [T]he most important lesson I have learned in my twenty years of research on morality is that nearly all people are morally motivated. Selfishness is a powerful force, particularly in the decisions of individuals, but whenever groups of people come together to make a sustained effort to change the world, you can bet that they are pursuing a vision of virtue, justice, or sacredness….
        The major atrocities of the twentieth century were carried out largely…by men who thought they were creating a utopia… If you are fighting for good or for God, what matters is the outcome, not the path.
        — JONATHAN HAIDT, The Happiness Hypothesis

      • Gunga., exactly! Correct you are!
        The CASH these days is being used by big crony profiteers, the massive entrenched bureaucracies and other assorted and focused special interest groups in order to BUY our Congressmen. IOW, the USA govt — the laws, the rules and regs; all of its actual workings — are FOR SALE.
        These wealthy and focused entities BUY the “law” where that law — or rules and regs — are made in their favor; where, of course, the “30-pieces of silver” — and, generally, a whole lot more — are used to fund/ensure the Congressman’s reelection campaign.
        Well, who then suffers? Well, for that, we only need to look in the mirror, that is, the ones who suffer are any of those who is interested in FREEDOM for one and all; where, instead of having a govt to protect and promote the “inalienable rights” of one and all — as was the original design of our Founding Fathers — the govt is now there primarily to protect and promote the BIG-dollar donors. This is gangster govt: you will get protection … if you can pay for it.
        The “evidence” — aside from the numerous “bewildering” rags to riches story of so many of our elected reps — is quite simple, really: K-street, a main boulevard in DC, the domicile of the BIG-dollar donor lobbyist offices, is NOT there for NO reason. Yessirree, it is ALL now for sale; the final nails are being driven in.
        OTOH, the real mystery question may be why more of We The People — in front of our very eyes — are unable to comprehend this … and do something about it.
        Actually, this is a rhetorical mystery with an implied explanation … as, indeed, where all such corruption and immorality is by design, we do know the reason for this: the fed-govt, during the past several generations, worked tirelessly with proto-globalist wannabes to brainwash — to dumb-down — the multitudes of our American youth into believing that everything in Emerald City — our DC swamp — were and are as pure as the driven snows.] And, so far: we have bought it.

  6. This reminds me of that video where Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s sidekick) opens up about Al Gore’s investing prowess. Since Al Gore’s fund wants to avoid carbon investments, it naturally ends up in the services – engineering, consulting, etc. But Warren and Charlie have been singing the praises of services for decades, generating 20%+ returns over the long run, while Al Gore brags that his fund is profitable at 6%. So Charlie Munger is like Ha! He sucks at investing in the services! And on top of that, he’s not even reducing carbon emissions by investing in green services because the underlying green businesses that are buying those services are still losing money.
    I think personally my money will run far, far away, from anything that calls itself green.

  7. Interesting … I expected “green” to be bad, but not catastrophic. This is the real “C” in CAGW.
    As far as was possible, I instructed my industry-based Super agency NOT to invest in anything green, and that is doing ok; last financial year the value of mine went up by double what it had paid out to me in the same period. There are other industry-based schemes in Australia where unions have some influence, and have demanded more investment to be directed to green stuff. Big mistake.
    I did get 5kw of solar put on the roof, and that has been running at 3 – 4.5kw for 6 hours a day in August (which is the last month of winter here). My motivation was, (1) huge discount for being a pensioner and paying in full up-front, (2) there is usually 650W/m2 coming down here in the “sunshine” state, (3) The Australian government has a track record of being both an early adopter AND late abandoner of stupid ideas, so there is no end in sight for excessive power costs.

      • @crackers
        Actually it would appear Martin didn’t get a “green” subsidy at all. Rather, if he got any type of subsidy, it was for being of a certain age and for paying for the equipment in full at time of purchase.

    • crackers,
      If some guy was standing on the street corner handing out stacks of real $100 bills with no strings attached, who would be crazy enough not to get in that line?

  8. Martin, I’m in two Aussie accumulation super funds and have been watching the ‘green / sustainable’ options for a decade. Sometimes the green options have run ahead of their equivalent ‘standard’ option, but for the last couple of years they have been middling to awful. I’m glad I am a financial ‘skeptic’. It will e interesting to watch how superannuation fund members that go all-in on ‘green’ options fare in the future. Where do they go to complain – the ALP?

  9. The chart is wrong. The red plot (sin stocks) is shifted forward by roughly 1 year, which is actually a really easy mistake to make in Excel when selecting chart ranges. This does not diminish the point of the story, though.

    • You are correct. I smelled a rat with the sinner rally in 2008. But the pattern is still much the same. Will try to get corrected graph in.

      • I noted that, too – but was not suspicious enough to look at some of the raw numbers. Many of the “sin” industries do run counter to the general economy. (I would suspect that you would see that if you looked at, say, only gun and alcohol industries. Those took some beating, of course, in the general panic around 2008 – but the antics of the new administration proved to be their best salesman.)

  10. Has anyone kept a list of the companies touted as wonders under the Obama Recovery Act – which have since gone down the toilet taking all of their investors money with them?
    Here’s yet another one:
    “FloDesign in Massachusetts is developing a novel shrouded wind turbine design with advanced aerospace technology that should reduce the cost and noise of wind energy dramatically”
    And here is some more recent news from their principle investor:
    “Our decision to invest was based on a wide range of supporting expert evidence and we continued to support the company for a number of years. In the first half of 2016, the company was unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue on the path towards commercialization. In June 2016 the Ogin Board of Directors and management mutually agreed to separate. At that point we wrote the Fund’s NZ$47.5 million investment down to nil, and that was included in our annual accounts.”

  11. When a liberal complains about “big oil” subsidy remind them that about half of the alleged subsidy counted is the Heating Energy Assistance Program. HEAP is just another welfare assistance program for the poor, that they would complain about if ended. This is why we shouldn’t let Democrats do Math.

  12. Being a sinner was 12 times more profitable? Maybe I’m reading the graph wrong, but doesn’t it show the greenies to have lost 80% of value? So they wouldn’t be profitable at all, so that statement makes no sense.
    A better way to put it would be, “being a sinner was 12 times more valuable in the end.”

    • Correct. Except that the sinning investors will have to pay 50% in taxes and the Green investors will get a tax writeoff and qualify for public assistance.

  13. Most equities are rising due to another government instigated racket – Quantitative Easing. That the ‘green’ firms included in this ad hoc index (not sure how exhaustive the list is BTW) cannot rise with such a strong upward tide tells part of the story, but more accurately reflects the difference in attitudes of investors to ‘blue chips’ and the ‘cats & dogs’.
    The comparision should be made between ‘sinners’ of equivalent stature to the ‘green’ companies, you’re not really comparing apples with apples, though I doubt the outcome would be very different – divesting to ‘green’ plc’s has not been very profitable or even loss making.

  14. The truth about industrial scale wind turbines needs to be told to naive investors. Who wants their pension funds invested in a stranded asset?

  15. It’s ok to sin and make money, as long as you recycle, buy “green” products, and virtue signal non-stop, to let others know how “green” you are, and how much you “care about the planet”.
    Hey, them’s the roolz.

    • Actually, I doubt that – that index is a slice of the “large cap” section of the market (companies with a market value of over $10 billion). As such, it includes a lot of companies whose stock price tends to remain virtually flat, no matter what the economy is doing. Grocery chains like Krogers, for instance, tend to have the same earning per share year after year – and rarely surprise any of the analysts, unless some idiot Board of Directors embarks on an expensive expansion or foolish acquisition.

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