You know that an organizing tactic which targets business practices is effective when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opens its big yap about it. Recent actions getting these guys’ attention include activist shareholders at a recent Bank of America shareholder meeting decrying its coal investments, including mountaintop removal, and a resolution supported by Dow Chemical shareholder heavies like TIAA-CREF and NYC Pension Funds (in part thanks to their members and Amnesty International activists alike clamoring for it), asking the company to address the festering environmental and social ills of the Bhopal incident.
The Chamber has in the past loudly questioned the desirability of shareholder activism, but most recently commissioned a study which states baldly that shareholder activism doesn’t improve stock prices. But the Council of Institutional Investors‘ director had a quick retort:
“For every study that showed that shareholder activists had a negative impact on share price, there was one to show they improved it.” Like this one: “Investor activism boosts returns by 5 percent.” Or 12 percent, depending.
Dogged by dodgy methodology, I think that this new study also deserves the hairy eyeball because it targets shareholder initiatives “adopting goals to reduce greenhouse gases.”
Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Paul Atkins must have heard the Chamber’s braying, though, as he recently called for reexamination of the rights of shareholders to place resolutions on the corporate ballot, among other things. That proposal belongs, dare I say, in the chamber pot.