"Many investors, given a choice, would not want to profit from companies that manufacture weapons of mass destruction," said As You Sow's Andrew Behar.
Amidst what the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists calls "an exceedingly dangerous nuclear situation" facing humanity today, the largest U.S. mutual funds—which manage the retirement and other savings of tens of millions of Americans—are profiting from investments in nuclear weapons, cluster munitions, and other banned or controversial arms, an analysis by a leading shareholder advocacy group revealed Tuesday.
Measured by dollars invested, the top 25 U.S. asset managers "all earn a D grade or worse, with significant investments in arms manufacturers and major military contractors, including companies involved with nuclear weapons and controversial weapons like cluster munitions, anti-personnel landmines, incendiary weapons, and depleted uranium," Berkeley, California-based As You Sow said in its new report.
Some of the largest corporate 401(k)s like American Funds, John Hancock Funds, and Franklin Templeton Investments were among the most heavily invested in these armaments, while "fund managers that focus on sustainable investing have less exposure to military weapons, on average."
"Nearly every retirement plan has nuclear and other controversial weapons embedded in their plan."
Seven funds profiled in the analysis—Eventide Funds, Ecofin, New Alternatives, Vert Asset Management, Aspiration Funds ,Thrivent, and Kayne Anderson—held no investments in the controversial weapons.
"Many investors, given a choice, would not want to profit from companies that manufacture weapons of mass destruction," As You Sow CEO Andrew Behar said in a statement. "Yet nearly every retirement plan has nuclear and other controversial weapons embedded in their plan. Our new ratings empower investors with the tools to know what they own so they can invest their money in alignment with their values."
As You Sow's mutual fund ratings are part of the group's Weapons Free Funds investment tool, "built to help responsible investors prioritize peace and people over war and violence."
Nuclear weapons, landmines, and cluster munitions are all banned under international law. However, the United States is not a signatory to any of the bans, and none of the world's nine nuclear powers have signed the landmark Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Common Dreams reported last month that nuclear-armed nations spent $82.9 billion on their arsenals last year, with the United States accounting for more than half of the global total, according to the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Meanwhile, U.S. House Republicans last week blocked a bipartisan amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act that would have banned the export of cluster munitions. This, as the Biden administration was giving final approval to transfer cluster bombs to Ukraine's military—which, like its Russian enemy, has used the weapons during the ongoing war with devastating effects.