Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, have swept through the financial world, building to a collective worth of $6.7 trillion by the second half of 2020. An ETF is a sort of hybrid between a single-company stock that’s easy to trade, and a low-cost, diversified mutual fund that spreads an investor’s risk among a selection of different companies.
But this Goldilocks solution, feverishly attractive to individual and institutional investors alike, entails feasting on a measure of tainted porridge, according to a recent report by the London-based nonprofit financial think tank Planet Tracker. Investing in these funds translates to support for deforestation and other environmental damage coming from a broad swath of society, the authors write.
The analysis found that 70% of the ETF market is in the grasp of three U.S. financial firms. And just four companies hold the reins to 60% of the related market for index funds, which track major market indicators such as the S&P 500 in New York or the FTSE in London. Many ETFs are pegged these indexes.
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