Getty Images/Flavio Coelho With the stock market down nearly 20% year-to-date in 2022, investors are paying close attention to the financial performance of their portfolios: seeking to protect 401Ks, looking for safe havens and trusting that their fiduciary asset managers are making the right decisions with ever-shrinking nest eggs.
The last thing any investor would want now is for asset managers to be investing in companies for any reason other than to maximize financial return.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what the world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock Inc., is doing through an emphasis on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing. This mode of corporate social activism has placed Blackrock in a difficult position, however, as pressure from both sides of the ESG issue close in on the company. Blackrock has become the latest example of a company experiencing the consequences of corporate social activism.
The movement to emphasize ESG within corporate structures and as corporate objectives first emerged in the early 2000s. ESG-focused investing directs capital to companies with stated goals on issues like climate change and social justice. Financial returns are a secondary concern to those who want to support or pressure companies to commit to ESG standards and enact policies to reach those standards.
With approximately $10 trillion in assets under management, Blackrock wields substantial power over where their assets, and by extension the assets of anyone invested in Blackrock, are placed.
An August 16 editorial in The Wall Street Journal noted how Blackrock pressured companies to “avoid investing in fossil-fuel assets … and reduce emissions to achieve net zero by 2050.” In essence, putting pressure on the companies in which Blackrock invests to adopt ESG standards. If Blackrock’s blackmail is resisted, proxy shares are voted against management. This approach puts activism above shareholders’ returns. But Blackrock is beginning to see a backlash.
They’re Trying to Shut Us Down
Over the last several months, I’ve lost count of how many times the powers-that-be have tried to shut us down. They’ve sent hackers at us, forcing us to take extreme measures on web security. They sent attorneys after us, but thankfully we’re not easily intimidated by baseless accusations or threats. They’ve even gone so far as to make physical threats. Those can actually be a bit worrisome but Remington has me covered.
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