Expert Insights: Mark J. Langerman
Mark J. Langerman is Managing Director of the Patriot Fund and in this role he assists with educational initiatives to raise public awareness for Terror-Free Investing. Mr. Langerman has been nationally recognized as an expert on terror-free investing as it has gained popularity in recent years. Among other speaking engagements, he has been interviewed by media outlets such as Fox News, Investors Business Daily, and Forbes in regards to his work with terror-free investing. In the editorial below Mark discusses how a speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved him to become a proponent of terror-free investing.
By Mark J. Langerman
The Jewish Community is increasingly confronted with the fact that public companies continue to do business with Iran and other countries that threaten Israel’s and, indeed, America’s own vital security interests. Over the past several years while raising awareness and educating people about this serious problem the response has almost universally been that of thanks. However, with the thanks people also have began to realize that there is still a lot of work to do and relying solely on politicians and the U.N. alone likely won’t accomplish the ultimate goal. These conversations and many others have reinforced our belief that an investor-driven movement can achieve the following policy goals:
1)Encourage public firms to freeze their activities and withdraw from sanctioned countries until they cease supporting terrorism and building weapons of mass destruction; 2)Damage the economies of sanctioned countries – which are highly dependent of foreign public firms – in order to leverage behavioral changes by their governments.
Bottom-line: We believe that Iran would not be as far along in their nuclear program today had terror-free investing been a priority of investors years ago.
If these objectives seem familiar, it’s probably because they are similar to the highly successful divestment campaign in South Africa in the 1980s. This is when millions of outraged Americans succeeded in bringing about a singular achievement — ending the country’s racist apartheid policy. There is little debate as to how this was accomplished: Where decades of international sanctions, public condemnation and diplomacy fell short, a nationwide American divestment campaign triumphed. Similarly, the US government has maintained various sanctions involving Iran since as early as 1984 when they were first designated as a State Sponsor of Terror. We feel, however, that these sanctions alone aren’t enough. In order to achieve the desired outcome, we believe that government action must be coupled with a divestment campaign via terror-free investing. That is precisely why the Patriot Fund was launched – to provide all investors the ability starve Iran and the terrorist organizations it supports of funding and resources. As the movement progresses and investor assets in terror-free strategies increase, public companies that are excluded from these terror-free portfolios will lose access a significant amount of investor capital. We believe this will cause even the largest of companies to reevaluate their business relationships with these nations. As of March 31, 2012, there are 657 companies globally that have active business ties with Iran, Syria, Sudan or North Korea. A movement like this does not gain scale overnight – the apartheid divestment movement spanned over 25 years – but we are proud to be on the forefront of this movement and are working hard every day to make sure that list of companies gets smaller and smaller.
Please read below for excerpts from the speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the power of divestment in bringing about change and the impact it can have on Iran and other state sponsors of terror.
Bibi's Blog: The divest-Iran Campaign
Monday Mar 26, 2007
After recent visits to Britain and France, I visited the United States last week as part of my continued efforts to focus the world’s attention on the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and to explain the critical importance of increasing diplomatic and economic pressures on the regime in Teheran while there is still time.
... Third, it can use non-military pressures, primarily economic ones. The regime in Teheran is extremely vulnerable to economic pressure. More than 80% of its government revenue comes from oil exports, the government heavily subsidizes gas for the population and the Iranian oil industry is badly in need of foreign investment and technology.
…But there is another tool, I explained, that could bring enormous economic pressure to bear on Iran: Divestment. Today, the American people are invested in Iran. Not directly, of course. That is against US law. Rather, through pensions, savings plans, and other diversified investments, American money is invested in companies - mostly European companies – that do business in Iran. By insisting that their investment dollars not be used in Iran, the American public can send a powerful and effective message.
… But for the regime in Teheran, the blow of divestment could prove fatal. Fewer and fewer companies will enter Iran. More and more will leave. Investment dollars and the technology it buys will dry up. The lifeline of the regime will be cut. Teheran will face a stark choice: Change its policies and win back investment, or maintain its policies and risk economic collapse.
The effort to divest from Iran could quickly bear fruit. Few people today have any idea they are supporting a regime inciting to genocide. When they do, they will want to stop that support.
…Divestment against Iran and Sudan is right for the same reason why divestment from Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s would have been right.
I said last year that it was 1938. But today, we have the lessons of the 1930s to guide us, and the power to choose a different course that will make all the difference. We must mobilize the power of the free world to confront the dangers in time. We must, as the old saying goes, put our money where our mouth is. If we divest from Iran, we will be able to say what our parents and grandparents could not: That we acted in time, that we prevented genocide, that we preserved peace. In short, the message of my trip to the US was simple. Divest Iran. Divest Sudan. Invest in Peace.
Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Patriot Fund. This and other important information about the Fund is contained in the prospectus, which can be obtained at http://www.ascendantfunds.com or by calling 855-527-2363. The prospectus should be read carefully before investing. The Patriot Fund is distributed by Northern Lights Distributors, LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Ascendant Advisors, LLC. is not affiliated with Northern Lights Distributors, LLC.
Mutual Funds involve risk including the possible loss of principal. There is no assurance that the fund will achieve its investment objectives. The Fund’s adviser has limited experience managing a mutual fund. Because the adviser screens out Terror Nations-related issuers, this will reduce the number of potential investments available to the Fund and the Fund may not perform as well as unrestricted funds. A higher turnover may indicate higher transaction costs and could result in higher taxes when Fund shares are held in a taxable account.
Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Ascendant Funds. This and other important information about the Funds are contained in the prospectus, which can be obtained at www.ascendantfunds.com or by calling 855-527-2363. The prospectus should be read carefully before investing. The Ascendant Funds are distributed by Northern Lights Distributors, LLC, member FINRA. Ascendant Advisors, LLC is not affiliated with Northern Lights Distributors, LLC.