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If you want to minimize the social impact of your money, the best thing you can do is invest in public equities. By buying stock on the secondary market from existing shareholders, you guarantee that none of your money actually goes to the company you're investing in.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Social impact ETF "JUST" is designed to invest in "U.S. companies that are driving positive change." (I welcomed the fund when it launched.) This week, the Wall Street Journal reported (and Axios later confirmed) that Goldman Sachs pulled the $100 million it initially invested in the fund. As a result, the fund's assets under management are now at an all-time low.

Between the lines: It's not uncommon for a market-maker to put in seed money when a new ETF launches and then pull that money at a later date. What's odd is that JUST launched with this much seed money in the first place.

  • The largest socially responsible ETFs, SUSA and DSI, launched with just $20 million and $25 million, respectively. Today, they're still small by ETF standards (SUSA is $922 million, DSI is $1.32 billion), but they're much bigger than relative newcomers like JUST and the gimmicky SHE. Both of those funds launched with great fanfare and $250 million under management; both are now significantly smaller than when they started.

The big picture: You can try to ensure that the ETF sponsor you choose is itself a good cause. A case in point: The sustainable-development SDGA fund, sponsored in part by the UN, which launched at just $2 million. That's a much more typical seed size for socially responsible ETFs. But an ETF that small will suffer from illiquidity and high fees.

Of note: In a statement to Axios, JUST Capital CEO Martin Whittaker said the JUST ETF's remaining $100 million in assets under management is "strong proof of the demand for this fund."

Go deeper

20 mins ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.

Nikolas Cruz pleads guilty to Parkland school shooting

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the defense table during jury selection at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Oct. 6, 2021. Photo: Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday pleaded guilty on all counts for carrying out the 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students and three staff members.

Driving the news: Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty at a hearing on Wednesday to 17 murder counts and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for carrying out the deadly shooting.