Stocktake: Josh Hawley’s investments are much ado about nothing

Investing in diversified index funds is different to owning individual stocks

US senator Josh Hawley rails against technology companies in his new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech.  Photograph: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Bloomberg

US senator Josh Hawley rails against technology companies in his new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech. Photograph: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Bloomberg

 

Josh Hawley rails at big tech firms but records show he has invested in them”, headlined the Guardian newspaper last week, reporting that the US Republican senator has “invested potentially tens of thousands of dollars in the very companies he denounces”.

Hawley, a Trumpian populist and potential 2024 presidential candidate, does indeed rail against technology companies in his new book, The Tyranny of Big Tech. Still, is it really noteworthy that he has a minor investment (between $1,000 and $15,000) in Vanguard’s Growth Index Fund ETF? Yes, it contains tech stocks such as Apple and Amazon, but that’s to be expected in an index fund containing 276 stocks.

The Guardian also noted that Hawley, a persistent critic of China, has an equally minor investment in the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF, “which holds stakes in some of China’s biggest companies, including Alibaba, Ping An insurance group and Tencent”.

Again, it’s not like Hawley has bet the farm on a few Chinese stocks, given that ETF holds more than 800 emerging-market companies.

It’s safe to assume many Democrat senators who are suspicious of big tech and of China also have money invested in index funds. Like Hawley, they have every right to do so.

Investing in diversified index funds is completely different to owning individual stocks. To pretend otherwise is to hold politicians, whether from the right or the left, to impossibly high standards.

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