Environmental Money Scams

Climate Change

            Pearl River     No question.  Climate change is a big deal.  For every hurricane alert, storm warning, and sudden street flooding, environmental consciousness is rising as quickly as the wind and water.  If a lot of people care about something, then here come the scammers and marketeers, because, hey, this is America, land of the hustle, bustle, and money means all.

Take the Wall Street wheeler dealers for example.  They are marketing like crazy investments in special funds to appeal to people with deep pockets who care about the environment and will put money into so-called ESG funds, standing in a clunky way for Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance.  ESG covers a host of corporate sins under one umbrella.  Too many perhaps to allow standard metrics for the people opening their wallets, which, not surprisingly, allows fund managers to make claims that are hard to verify.

Or, as is now becoming apparent in the case of Deutsche Bank’s DWS ESG fund, regular money plays in the sheep’s clothing of ESG.  The SEC and federal prosecutors opened investigations into claims that Deutsche Bank’s DWS overstated how much it used sustainable-investing criteria to manage its assets. BaFin, the German financial regulator, is looking into the matter as well.  Partially this is coming to light after they fired the head of their “sustainability” unit, which also sounds like a scam, when she raised issues about fund managers ignoring the data from her unit which would have established that investments met the ESG criteria.  There’s a lot of he-say-she-say here of course with the company claiming that they have had two outside law firms investigate the charges and nothing has been found untoward.

Who knows?  Not me, but my point remains that the claims without real consensus on the standards are all specious.  Furthermore, this is both the scandal-ridden, fine-paying Deutsche Bank of recent years and Wall Street, so, as Richard Pryor might have quipped, “Who are you going to believe them or your lying eyes.”

Another candidate in the hype-market is all the cryptocurrency speculators and hustlers.  Once again, I understand the outlines of bitcoin, but have trouble getting excited about it, and find myself sympathetic to Chinese regulators who are now saying, “no, frigging way,” or words to that effect, and American regulators who are trying to substitute something called a smartcoin or some such pegged to the US dollar, as a halfway measure.  The crypto-claimers have an environmental problem because these bitcoin mining operations suck up more energy than mid-sized countries like the Philippines already.  Some are reportedly making deals with nuclear plant operators to use their excess capacity, because nuclear energy doesn’t have a carbon footprint.  We have to ask, “Is nuclear going to give enviros the happy face?”

I’m not sure about that, but I am sure that we are going to see many more hotshot fast buck folks scamming deeply felt environmental concerns unless we are all better protected.