Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Blue Way by Daniel de Faro Adamson & Joe Andrew

While looking for some books on socially responsible investing, I came across this one - the subtitle is How to Profit by Investing in a Better World. But this book is about more than socially responsible investing. The Blue Way refers to supporting companies that support Democrats. The assertion of the authors is that the Republican party is against everything that socially responsible companies are for, or at least their actions have shown this for the past decade or more. And although it seems taboo to discuss the political contributions of companies and CEO's, that is exactly what this book wants to talk about. Many of the companies that are listed in socially responsible mutual funds donate big money to the Republican party, or to individual campaigns. The authors have identified 76 companies on the S&P 500 that they describe as "blue" - contributing a majority of their political donations to Democrats. The authors then set out to show that these 76 companies are more successful than those that support Republicans.
Adamson and Andrew do get their point across. They have run the numbers, and the numbers show that these companies have done much better than the average S&P 500 company over the past decade. Of course, this book came out in 2007, and much has changed about financial markets since then, but it is still an interesting fact. The reason why the authors feel that they have to emphasize their facts so heavily is that conventional wisdom goes against these results. Republicans are traditionally the party of big business. The other main point the authors make is that the reason "blue" companies are more successful than "red" is that their business model is more progressive, in more ways than one. They spend a tremendous amount of the book discussing the importance of progressive leadership, both in business and in politics.
This book was not really what I expected, and it spent more time on topics other than investing than I would have expected, seeing as how the word "investing" was in the title. But the authors did make some very interesting points, and gave me a lot to think about. They discussed changes that certain very large companies have made to make themselves more socially responsible, companies like Nike and Gap, who I didn't realize had made so many steps in that direction. I'm still not sure that I agree that it makes sense to dig into data about political contributions; I also did not particularly care for the incredibly consumerist take on reality. There was barely a mention of the fact that perhaps instead of purchasing stuff from a "blue" company, we could instead not buy stuff at all. But I guess that wasn't the point of the book.


Ron Robins said...

If you're looking for a complete selection of socially responsible investing books, paste this link (from my site) in your browser:

Best wishes, Ron Robins

Jessica Denton West said...

What a great list! Thanks for the tip.