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Latest Issue

Politics with No Labels

June 11, 2021

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

—by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, 1969

There’s no way around it: Investing in public companies is always political. Corporations exist because governments charter these artificial entities and legally shield the owners (shareholders) from personal liability.

This initially simple concept grew more complex over time. For those interested in the origins, see the fabulous book The First Tycoon. It tells the story of Cornelius Vanderbilt who, along with steamships and railroads, helped usher in the concept of the modern corporation. Vanderbilt was at the foundation of what became modern corporations, even if he and his cohorts did it to further their own ends. You’ll better understand where we are today if you understand how we began.

And from those “humble” beginnings, now we have multinational corporations, doing business worldwide under many different sets of rules, so it gets messy. The interplay between governments and businesses impacts your investments. So does the interplay of governments with other governments. Thus the drive to create an international corporate tax. So you can’t escape politics… but you can try to analyze it calmly, without partisan histrionics.

This is why I always include geopolitics and public policy on the Strategic Investment Conference agenda. Leaving them out would mean ignoring an influence that, however unpleasant, is critically important....

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