The ESG Movement: The "Goodness" Gravy Train Rolls On!

This post is by Aswath Damodaran from Musings on Markets

Last year, I wrote a post on ESG and explained why I was skeptical about the claims made by advocates about the benefits it would bring to companies, investors and society. In the year since, I have heard from many on the topic, and while there are some who agreed with me on the internal inconsistencies in its arguments, there were quite a few who disagreed with me. In keeping with my belief that you learn more by engaging with those who disagree with you, than those who do, I have tried my best to see things through the eyes of ESG true believers, and I must confess that the more I look at ESG, the more convinced I become that “there is no there there”. More than ever, I believe that ESG is not just a mistake that will cost companies and investors money, while making the world worse off, but that it create more harm than good for society.

ESG: Value and Pricing Implications

Rather than repeat in detail the points I made in last year’s post, I will summarize my key conclusions, with addendums and modifications, based upon the feedback (positive and negative) that I have received. 

1. Goodness is difficult to measure, and the task will not get easier!

The starting point for the ESG argument is the premise that we can come up with measures of goodness that can then be targeted by corporate managers and used by investors. To meet this demand, services (Read more…)