Why No One Should Invest in Strive

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Strive is a lot better at PR than in developing a coherent, credible investment strategy. We cannot help suspecting that Strive is a loss leader for Ramaswamy’s book and that the book is just a way to J.D. Vance him into a political career. As for his big investor, Peter Thiel, well, he has shown himself to be more about stunts like paying kids not to go to college than in making more money, understandable for a billionaire.

From Tim McDonnell, writing for Quartz last spring:

There are a few problems with [Ramaswamy’s claim that ExxonMobil is performing poorly because it made strategic changes due to the election of some environmentalist directors]. First, it misrepresents the behavior of the key players. Exxon didn’t suddenly morph into a climate champion—it plans to boost spending on drilling 45% in 2022, to $24 billion. If that figure is below pre-pandemic levels, it’s because the company is returning more money to investors via share buybacks and dividends, not because it’s pouring cash into low-carbon technologies (which will get only $1 billion this year)….

Second, climate change isn’t merely a political issue. It’s a huge material risk to investors. At least $4 trillion in fossil fuel assets are poised to become worthless, according to the latest UN climate report; countless trillions more are at risk from physical climate damages. For investors to ask companies to plan accordingly isn’t micro-managing; any company that isn’t planning is playing chicken with investors’ money (to say nothing of, you know, causing climate change). Companies may soon even be subject to prosecution now that regulators in the US and Europe are demanding more disclosure and detailed climate plans.

Third, Ramaswamy’s underlying claim about the role of politics in business is disingenuous. To specifically exclude “political issues” from a company’s decision-making is itself a political decision, and a form of climate change denial. Many of Ramaswamy’s talking points can also be heard from Republican politicians in fossil fuel-reliant states like Texas and West Virginia that want to outlaw ESG investing. [NOTE: The West Virginia Treasurer, Riley Moore, co-authored one of the informercial op-eds Ramaswamy had in the WSJ]

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