Ike Brannon is whining about proxy advisors again on the unedited commentary section of Forbes.
We last wrote about Ike Brannon’s anti-proxy advisor propaganda more than a year ago, pointing out that he does not disclose the funders and connections behind his fabricated claims about proxy advisors. Since he does not, we will remind him and our readers that he is a former visiting fellow of the Koch-funded Cato Institute (which is actually usually pretty good on free market policy and would not be likely to support the SEC’s proposed regulation of publishers of research no one has to buy and recommendations no one has to follow). And he was on the advisory committee of the now apparently defunct Main Street Investors Coalition, the fake dark money front group created to get the SEC to propose just this regulation. So it is hypocritical, to say the least, to accuse the proxy advisors of guilt by association when he does not disclose or acknowledge his own.
Of course he cites the similarly compromised “recent analysis” conducted by the Spectrem Group, a professional investor research and strategic analysis group, and Antonin Scalia School of professor J.W. Verrett, without mentioning the funders of both Verrett’s law school and the Spectrem Group. This bogus “study” used slanted and subjective questions to attain a statistically useless result.
Here is the result of the “study.” Tear out the front page: “The vast majority of investors stated that their return on investment was the most important factor in their investment and other related financial decisions.”
And so? What he fails to show and cannot show is that proxy advisors and fund managers are in any way inconsistent with this shared goal. It’s always easy to make it look like you’re winning an argument if you take a position that no one is challenging. Like all of the other CEO-backed groups, Brannon is unable to come up with a single actual example of a proposal that proxy advisors recommended a “wrong” vote on, much less one that was actually wrongly voted. We note for the thousandth time that even a 100 percent vote in favor is advisory only, so he is also unable to come up with any actual costs from a “wrong” vote. He ignores the hard data about the number of proxy advisory service clients who pay for the advice and then make their own decisions about how to vote. That includes the example he cites, by the way, Blackrock. The gap between its rhetoric on climate change and its votes on advisory-only shareholder proposals on climate change is a matter of concern to its clients.
And of course he ignores the overwhelming information about the potential risks and opportunities in responding to climate change. (Just a few recent examples we have previously noted here, here, and hers.)
You’d think an economist would look at costs and benefits, but apparently he is guided only by incentives — his own.