Investors Must Be Aware of Silent Money

Dear Reader,

It was only too easy to misread the tealeaves after the votes for Brexit were counted.

Without any time for reflection, the mainstream media and a chorale of hapless pundits, quickly dissected and explained away the ‘shock’ result.

Yes, the answer was simple they argued. Those who voted had obviously made an honest mistake.

The elderly couple living in a bedsit on the outskirts of Liverpool. The young husband and wife running a small business somewhere in the midlands.

Both had voted to exit. God bless…although well intentioned, the poor folk just did not understand what they were doing.

With time to reflect, the experts argued that both groups would soon change their mind if given another chance to vote.

By then, and understanding more fully the gravity of what an exit would mean, this time they would enthusiastically cast their vote with all the other screaming remainers.

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But rather than accept the people’s vote — surely the essence of any true democracy — democratically elected parliamentarians in the UK got to work trying to scuttle the result. Hundreds of them.

It was all too hard. There was just too many regulations to change, and nowhere near enough time change them.

If they could drag it out long enough, maybe the voters would throw their hands in the air and yell ‘enough’. Yes, everybody has their limit.

Barely containing its delight at the mayhem, the EU Council eagerly thwarted any genuine attempt at a deal.

Poor Theresa May was stuck in no-man’s land. And I do mean ‘no man’. Most of the male protagonists went to ground as soon as the real work had to be done.

Flying across the English Channel to nut out a deal, only to be dismembered on her return.

Say what you like about leaders. But no PM in living memory copped so much abuse, for no personal reward or recognition, than did Theresa May. And for what?

Nothing more than trying to put the people’s vote into action.

The so-called ‘mistake’ of Brexit, however, was soon joined by yet another anomaly. Less than five months after Brexit, the deplorables put someone considered totally unelectable into the White House.

What could be worse than the voters choosing the wrong person to lead the bastion of democracy?

The losers have been screaming about it ever since. No doubt they will do so right up until the next election. Why not throw in an impeachment?

No, the punters have had enough of the politicking. And more than that, they’ve had it up to the back teeth with the political class — the new bourgeoisie.

What started as an anomaly in Brexit, is now turning into the mainstream.

We saw that here in Australia on 18 May. We saw it again in the UK this month, when the Tories put a spike through the British Labour Party’s heart.

As it turns out, socialism is not such a popular thing. Especially when those proposing it are better heeled than most.

By all means, argue about the discrepancies in the system; about the widening gap between those at the top of the heap and everyone else.

But as the UK and Australian elections attest, voters know that socialism is not the answer. Who wants to work to support a political class that accommodate no ideologies other than their own? A group who believe in democracy, but only when it throws up the ‘right’ result.

As the election results show this year, the now-famous quiet majority are now happy to make a bit more noise. Could the US elections next year deliver yet another crushing blow? Perhaps a majority for the Republicans in both houses.

It would be hard to bet against it.

The political class have slowly, but surely, worked their way into every corner of our lives. Trying to tell us what we can say and what we can do.

Even more worryingly, they have consistently tried to accede our own independence and control to international bodies who are not elected by anyone, let alone Australians, nor have our best interests at heart.

The multitudes of quiet people have spoken up, and in doing so, kept the bourgeoisie — the political class — at bay for now.

However, they have other ways to spread their tentacles.

As we are finding out more everyday, the huge industry super funds, their proxies, and proxy advisers in general, seek to determine what a board should do, and how it should act.

Maybe, as the various banking scandals have unfolded, that might not seem like a very bad thing at all. But who gets to define the limitations of their role, and who is their moral guardian?

If an industry super fund was set up, and is run by the unions, would they support management or employees should industrial action break out?

In the interests of investors’ returns, might they quietly side with management and sell out those whom they claim to represent?

And what about compositions of boards, and their influence on who they pick as CEO’s. For example, would they support a bank CEO who decides to finance the construction of a coal-fired power plant? Instead, they might choose a CEO who will only lend to renewables.

As The Australian reported only last week, research by actuarial firm Rice Warner predicts the multi-trillion dollar super industry will become dominated by a handful of $100 billion-plus mega size funds.

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Like AustralianSuper, which Rice Warner predict will have $325 billion in assets in five years’ time. Yes, $325 billion and growing every day.

That’s a lot of firepower and clout when it comes to influencing how a company runs its business.

As investors, we all need to be aware of this silent money. Those with the weight to influence events behind the scenes, irrespective of whether we agree with their moral view of the world.

While the democratic world has finally awoken and is fighting back, the battle against those who seek to control capitalism has not even got started.

All the best,

Matt Hibbard,
Editor, The Rum Rebellion

The Rum Rebellion