ESG, Larry Fink, and Other Peoples’ Money

This op-ed by NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty appears today on Real Clear Markets:

Last week, Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas companies, lost a critical board fight with Engine No.1, a “woke” small investor group. The win was predictably spun by the mainstream media as a David vs. Goliath story as well as a milestone moment for a new type of altruistic Environmental, Social and Governance investor.

The truth, however, is more cynical than heroic. Among other things, this is a story of how a billionaire like Larry Fink, a true Wolf of Wall Street, uses other people’s money to simultaneously camouflage his checkered past and help promote himself as an elder statesman of the markets, a beneficent oligarch with a penchant for saving the planet. 

The popular media narrative is that this latest Exxon shareholder campaign was conducted by a small group … Read More ➡

As China is Called Out Over Genocide, BlackRock Sees a Business Opportunity

Larry Fink/IMAGE: YouTube

At a time when many nations in the West — including the United States — are condemning China for human rights abuses and genocide against the Muslim Uyghurs, investment firm BlackRock and CEO Larry Fink are doubling down on their business partnership with the communist government.

From Pensions & Investments:

Bing Ji was named general manager of BlackRock’s newly launched wealth management joint venture in Shanghai, BlackRock CCB Wealth Management, a spokeswoman confirmed Friday…

On Wednesday, BlackRock said that the joint venture it unveiled last August with a subsidiary of China Construction Bank and Singapore investment company Temasek had garnered regulatory approval to start operations…

BlackRock said it holds a majority 50.1% stake in BlackRock CCB Wealth Management. CCB Wealth Management Co., a wholly owned unit of China Construction Bank, has 40% and Temasek holds the remaining 9.9%.

The joint venture “will draw on BlackRock’s

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Now BlackRock CEO Fink Wants to Tell Georgia How to Run Elections

Larry Fink/IMAGE: YouTube

Not content to throw his weight around to transform the entire energy industry, Larry Fink has now turned his attention to altering the political system.

The CEO of top finance firm BlackRock, which reportedly controls more than $9 trillion in assets, has developed a reputation for progressive agenda pressure tactics against the companies they invest in – most recognizably on the issue of climate change, but also on social issues related to race and gender. Fink likes to write open letters to CEOs and board members in which he prods and threatens their corporations to do things like “divest” from fossil fuels (even if that is their core business) and report hypothetical “risks” from the effects of global warming. Those who fail to comply can find BlackRock potentially voting against renewal of their directorships, or worse.

But Fink is proving to be just another two-bit hypocrite … Read More ➡

BlackRock’s Fink is a Bully, Except When It Comes to China

Larry Fink/IMAGE: YouTube

Larry Fink’s letter to CEOs, released in late January, is so 2021 – demanding fealty to a progressive agenda under threat of being ostracized and/or canceled.

Since 2018, the BlackRock chairman’s missive has become an eagerly anticipated annual pontification for Wall Street elitists and political progressives. The lifelong Democrat – who once received a “corporate citizenship” award named for Democrat racist President Woodrow Wilson – now has a new Democrat U.S. President installed that he can work with. Indeed, BlackRock alumni are populating the economic team within the Biden administration.

As the president and his allies in the newly Democrat-controlled Congress eagerly start to impose their new power on the corporate world – the stoppage of the Keystone XL pipeline construction is just the first job-killing step – they will need allies to coerce compliance under threat of economic pain.

Fink appears to be … Read More ➡

BlackRock Pushes Left Wing Politics; Ignores China

Larry Fink/IMAGE: YouTube

CEO Larry Fink is escalating his leftist political agenda influence, exerted through his mega-investment firm BlackRock, to outright intimidation.

It began gently almost three years ago, with Fink urging several corporate CEOs in a letter to make “a positive contribution to society” beyond generating profit for shareholders, to “serve a social purpose.” The initiatives pressed most urgently addressed climate change risk and disclosure, and diversity initiatives.

The tone has gone from pleadings to threats, as outlined in BlackRock’s “2021 Stewardship Expectations,” issued a couple of weeks ago in advance of corporate annual meetings that will be held in the coming months. As reported by investment equity law firm Ropes & Gray, BlackRock has intensified its demands in pursuit of compliance with its priorities.

Among BlackRock’s plans:

  • “Broadening the universe of focus companies – from 440 to more than 1,000 – that it
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Larry Fink’s Appeasement of Climate Activists is Failing

Larry Fink/IMAGE: YouTube

For all the boasts and claims that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has made in recent years about the need for corporate “accountability” with regard to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities, and that they are a better long-term investment prospect, he has consistently fallen short in the eyes of experts who evaluate those things.

First there was the academic study released in August that found that despite claims to the contrary by major financial firms – including BlackRock – that ESG factors did notinoculate investors against the stock market downturn that was attributed to the COVID crash of the global economy, nor did sustainability priorities aid in the subsequent limited recovery.

And now it turns out that one of BlackRock’s non-profiting investment priorities ballyhooed by Fink – climate change – is not all he cracks it up to be.

report released last month by … Read More ➡

Study Debunks BlackRock Claims that ESG Funds Did Better During COVID

Larry Fink

So-called environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities, as applied to investment principles, have seen a massive influx of cash during the COVID-19 pandemic – so much so that influential financial firm leaders have celebrated them as better performers than normal “make-a-profit” funds.

But is that really true?

Mega-firm BlackRock and CEO Larry Fink have called greater attention to ESG, beginning early in 2018 with a letter to more than 1,000 publicly traded companies urging them to elevate issues such as climate change and diversity higher in their considerations as they go about their business.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he wrote. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

CNBC reported earlier this month that the amount of assets in funds that follow ESG … Read More ➡

Chinese Companies Get Scrutiny— But Not From BlackRock

Steve Mnuchin/IMAGE: YouTube

Pressure continues to increase on Chinese corporations that are listed on American stock exchanges, to provide greater transparency about their ownership and operations.

Following the U.S. Senate’s passage (by unanimous consent) in May of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, a special panel of top government financial regulators issued a report last week that also called for tougher rules in order for “non-cooperative” foreign companies to be allowed to be listed in the United States. The goal is to provide greater protection for investors in those companies, to meet minimal audit and transparency standards so that potential risks are better understood.

The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets specifically scrutinized the risks to investors posed by the Chinese government’s failure to allow access to the books of companies listed in the U.S.  The group urged the Securities and Exchange Commission take steps to strengthen the listing standards.… Read More ➡

BlackRock Threatens U.S. Firms While Coddling Chinese Polluters

Apparently true to its word – or at least virtue-signaling a head fake in that direction – mega-investor BlackRock put some companies in its portfolio on notice that their efforts to address transparency and mitigation regarding “climate change” are insufficient.

The $6.5 trillion firm announced earlier this week in a report that it had warned 244 of those companies that they insufficiently address climate concerns, and that it had voted against resolutions and directors at 53 of them because of those shortcomings. It warned the other 191 companies they “risk voting action in 2021 if they do not make substantial progress,” according to the Financial Times.

BlackRock first announced its plans to increase scrutiny of its investments, with regard to climate, in January.

Some of the names on BlackRock’s naughty list include fossil fuel-concentrated industries like ExxonMobil, Volvo, Daimler, and coal company Peabody Energy.

“Our approach on climate issues, … Read More ➡

Senators Turn Up the Heat on BlackRock Over China Investments

Kevin Cramer/PHOTO: Gage Skidmore (CC)

Following an effort by National Legal and Policy Center to urge the world’s largest investment firm to divest its customers’ money from 137 companies based in communist China, two Senators have also turned up the pressure.

In a letter dated Monday, Republican Sens. Martha McSally and Kevin Cramer – of Arizona and North Dakota, respectively – asked BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to explain apparent inconsistencies in the company’s approach to managing its funds. Specifically, the senators wanted to know why BlackRock’s U.S. investments are held to a higher standard as it pertains to appeasing activist investors with a progressive agenda, as opposed to its holdings in foreign companies that do not comply with minimal legal and auditing standards.

Fink has led his firm into the decision-making of the U.S. companies where BlackRock has its investments, voting “on 18,758 shareholder proposals and participated in 2,269 shareholder … Read More ➡