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I doubt that we’ll see a lot of leftists protesting against Wall Street titans bullying local governments now that the most powerful capitalist entities are joining to progressive racial agenda. Some Wall Street bullying is more equal than other bullying, it would seem. But this article from Bloomberg (hat tip: Ed Lasky) gives me the willies: Some of Wall Street’s biggest buyers of America’s state and local government bonds are starting to ask questions about racial equity. Five investment giants — BlackRock Inc., Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Lord, Abbett & Co., Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Vanguard Group Inc. — are working with two minority-owned underwriters, Loop Capital Markets and Siebert Williams Shank & Co., to develop and distribute a questionnaire that governments will be asked to fill out before new bond deals are arranged. It will ask about policing policies, efforts to combat race-based inequality, social services and the demographic breakdown of the government’s workforce, among other things.
“The pandemic has brought up the broad range of inequity in our society and it’s important to understand how everyone is working on that,” said Daniel Solender, head of municipal bonds at Lord, Abbett, which manages about $36 billion of the securities. “We want to engage: we can ask questions, we can compare different issuers for what they’re doing,” Solender said. “It’s important for us to know what we’re investing in.” The push reflects the growing influence of the socially responsible investment business, with Wall Street funds eager to cater to investors seeking to use their funds to combat global warming or promote societal change. The industry has been making inroads into the $4 trillion municipal securities market, a slow moving haven of buy-and-hold investors seeking tax-free income. To be sure, this is only a first step: asking for data. But the very fact of asking, when the request comes from the biggest funders of municipal debt, places pressure on municipal governments and public agencies that qualify for tax-exempt bonds to change (for example) hiring practices if not “enough” people of certain races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc. are not […]
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