Monday 19 January 2009

Pity the Pensioners

If I were a Highland Council pensioner, I'd be pretty irked today.

Highland Council has a successful, and not insubstantial pension fund, but is under pressure by the righteous to cut investment in certain companies. The fact that those companies are providing huge returns for pensioners that the fund is set up to serve seems lost on the nay-sayers.

Then it was confirmed five weeks ago that a substantially larger amount, £11.2million, from the council’s £711million pension fund was also invested in tobacco, despite a claim in the council’s official programme that it is “building a healthier Highlands”.

That story drew a pledge from council leader and GP Michael Foxley that he would ensure the authority withdrew from tobacco – but the council has confirmed it has not yet done so.

Trumpet call to the righteous then:

NHS Highland chairman Garry Coutts told the Press and Journal: “It’s up to everybody to make up their own minds on their investment decisions but I can see no good reason for somebody to be investing in tobacco companies at all."

Firstly Garry, yes it is up to everybody to make their own minds up so where you fit into this I don't know. Secondly, I can see quite a bloody good reason for investing in tobacco companies. It's because they consistently outperform the market on every indicator.

Here is the Imperial Tobacco stock over the past 5 years. (Note: the blue line denotes the shares, the other colours are FT100, FT250 & FT All Share).

BAT is even more profitable,

Garry continues,

“I would encourage everybody with such investments to consider dis-investing as quickly as possible.”

That's why you are a NHS non-jobber and not a financial consultant, you prick.

Cancer Research inevitably turn up, natch.

[Elspeth Lee, of Cancer Research UK, said:] “We urge all organisations to carefully consider how appropriate it is to invest in this industry and to look for alternative investments as much as possible.”

Elspeth, shouldn't you be off researching cancer somewhere, instead of dictating to councils about where to invest their pension funds? Profitably?

Christ on a bike. This council, just today, earned £100,800 for its pensioners if all that £11.2m was invested in Imperial. If it was with BAT, they enriched their oldies to the tune of £170,240. Tobacco stocks are a very safe investment. How is that not 'appropriate' for a pension fund?

What's more, the louder the antis shriek, the better investment such stock becomes. The Telegraph recently advised buying BAT stock (dubbing them "bulletproof") and in the US, tobacco firms are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of more anti-smoking measures.

Why then has US tobacco giant Altria, maker of Marlboros, given its full support to the [anti-smoking] bill? Well, because the firm has read the small print. “This legislation might as well be dubbed the Altria Earnings Protection Act,” says Fortune magazine."

But Highland Council is being besieged by idiots telling them to dump a wise investment, and to plunge back into the market, at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.

Of course, no-one bothers to consult the people who will benefit or suffer from the "wise" financial advice propounded by the righteous. How many truly care where their pension fund is invested as long as they get a decent wedge out of it?

When will these morons stop? It's not your money. It is being wisely invested. Shut the fuck up.


banned said...

Given that whoever makes actual investment decisions will have a legal requirement to maximise earnings surley they would be up for prosecution if it could be shown they made decisions based upon personal prejudice rather than financial probity ?

Charity Quangoids should shut up and stick to what they're bad at, wasting my money.

John Pickworth said...

I've just purchased a pack of Marlboro's in support of poor pensioners....

... Well, for those with funds that have invested wisely instead of ethically. Principles are fine, but make sure you can afford them.

Mark Wadsworth said...

They've also completely missed the point that if I buy BAT shares from Joe Bloggs, I haven't invested a penny in BAT's business. The money that I 'invest' goes to Joe Bloggs and not BAT.