Jeremy Balkin has been called the “Anti-Wolf of Wall Street,” not because he is less inclined to pursue capital but rather because of his ethical approach. The native Australian thinks of himself as “an activist investor.”
A Modern Orthodox Jew living with his wife on the Upper West Side, Balkin said, “I’m a capitalist. I believe in the power of free markets.” But he’s advocating an ethical realignment of the capitalist system. “I’ve been on a journey ever since I gave a TED talk about using financial services and capital to, dare I say, repair the world — tikkun olam,” said Balkin.
That 2013 TED talk — “The Noble Cause: Positively Influencing the Allocation of Capital” — has gotten more than 358,000 views on YouTube, leading to Balkin’s newly published book, “Investing with Impact: Why Finance Is a Force for Good.”
Balkin has fears about the economic conditions that may come with being Jewish in the coming century. “Look at the cost of living in big cities, the cost of Jewish education, the cost of Jewish food. What’s going to happen in 2045 or 2065? Will the Jewish wealth be there?” he asked. He suspects the demand for Jewish capital will be greater but the supply will be less.
Balkin has been talking to friends in philanthropies about building a Jewish endowment fund, perhaps for Jewish education in particular, as education is such a core part of Jewish identity. “We have enough capital, enough expertise, and enough intellectual capital to build this and make it successful,” he said. “We should not have a community where being Jewish is an economic decision.”
On the move: When Balkin isn’t racing for economic ethics, he loves to run marathons and cycle.
Man of Steel: Balkin’s friends call him Superman because he has an 8 inch titanium plate, 14 screws in his left arm and 2 screws in his left leg from sporting injuries in Australia.