Teen Vogue urges teens to chase ideals, forgets to mention the price tag

September 7, 2023

By Tim Worstall

Teen Vogue tells its readers – those teens who it insists are its mission, “To educate the influencers of the future”- something very dangerous. That they’re quoting Bill McKibben shows that they’re wrong, but that’s not the point here; it’s dangerous, they’re going to make their readers poorer. Which isn’t, when we all come to think of it, the point of giving financial advice.

The point they want to make is that people should save, invest, and spend their money in the way that makes the world those people want the world to be. That’s true. We should all be doing exactly that. But there’s a cost to doing this; when we’re talking about investment, that cost must be spelled out.

So, this is the usual climate change and fossil fuels thing. Move your money out of financing fossil fuels because Gaia. There’s the occasional technical mistake here. Money is fungible, so moving money out of a bank that funds fossil fuels to a community bank that does not makes no difference to climate change at all. The bank financing will borrow from other banks instead of using your deposits.

But those mild and technical problems aside. The article reads like an advertisement for a select group of companies. Invest here, bank there. If Teen Vogue wants to start running advertorial, then that’s their privilege. Usually, a media outlet will mark such and actually tell people this is a series of ads, but it doesn’t have to.   

But there’s one big thing here. Something that makes this wrong and dangerous. ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance, basically the ragbag of what the cool people think is fashionable these days) investing is expensive. The standard fees are 2% of funds invested – double the 1% of a plain vanilla fund. And 20 times the 0.09% or so of a simple index fund. 

No, no, it’s just fine that more work attracts more money in managing investments. But to insist that your readers do the expensive thing without telling them it will be expensive? No, no, that’s dangerous.

Especially when your article is between an advertisement for expensive people and an insistence that you must use them. ESG might even be moral, but it loses people money – something you’ve got to tell them.


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