Wall street is supposed to be a place where people understand animal spirits.
This is powerfully embodied by an eleven foot statue of a charging bull. At first stealthily installed by artist Arturo Di Modica in 1989, it has come to represent the unstoppable, transfixing, and at times terrifying energy of the capital markets.
The alleged scariness of this mammal’s taurean energy crept close to canon in 2017, when State Street Global Advisers added “fearless girl” to the concrete canyon’s cast of characters. Created on commission by artist Kristen Visbal to commemorate the launch of an exchange-traded fund, the statue seems to celebrate a young girl’s internalization of the “i will trample all who challenge me” energy of her predecessor.
The funny thing about the juxtaposition is that most observers don’t realize the bull has likely been terrified the whole time. This animal – capable of forming complex familial bonds, deep friendships, and an appreciation for music – is charging in response to the very real threat people pose to its existence.
Think about it.
If we found cows on another planet, we would be trying to establish diplomatic relations with them. Instead, we consign them to brief, uncomfortable, and unfulfilled lives at unfathomable scale because that’s the way things have been, and we’ve had our ability to imagine a brighter future ground away by entrenched interests with far-reaching influence.
The business-as-usual crowd would have us accept the fearless girl’s presence as progress. But this firm exists to help us dream of a world where animal and child have nothing to fear from each other. And where possible, to use the power and influence associated with our shareholdings to push us closer to that ideal sooner than we have been conditioned to expect.
Economic reality is already catching up with animal agriculture. Agricultural lender Farmer Mac, which happens to be our firm’s largest single shareholding, noted in its most recent economic overview that rising feed prices are effectively putting a cap on profitability as labor shortages in meatpacking facilities leave livestock suppliers unable to reach their end markets.
What will happen when the broader market acknowledges these realities? We can’t pretend to see the future, but just like fossil fuels and other extractive industries, animal cruelty is embedded in supply chains more tightly than most investors acknowledge. And the costs of that are more apparent by the day.
We believe that such short-sighted businesses have no place in investor portfolios, and hope you’ll join us in building a future that does not include them.