You’ve been told that ESG is in the best interests of investors. And you’ve probably heard that ESG managers are just doing their fiduciary duty to investors. At Real Clear Markets, Scott Shepard exposes the lie in both those theories. He writes:
Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not “woke.” It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper. This is the power of capitalism.
As has been discussed before in this space, [BlackRock CEO Larry] Fink’s version of stakeholder capitalism is a very funny sort of capitalism, in that its whole purpose is to ignore the interests of the genuine capitalists (the people who invest in BlackRock, whose capital Larry is using) in favor of forcing his own politics on American corporations. And it’s a funny kind of “unwoke,” given that his continuing demands are the two highest woke priorities: equity-based discrimination and politicized carbon-elimination schedules that have already imperiled Europe and, if followed, will bankrupt the West for no possible climate-related purpose.
Now Fink is retreating even further, again rhetorically. His current claim, put forth at BlackRock’s annual shareholder meeting last week, is that he’s not pushing equity, decarbonization and the other – whoops! – demands of the woke fringe on his own behalf at all. No, rather he’s just doing it because BlackRock’s investors are demanding it. He reverted to the claim that he’s somehow acting for all shareholders by offering the non sequitur that companies must embrace equity-discrimination and political decarbonization because BlackRock had an up year in 2021: “Our voice is resonating with all our stakeholders, evidenced by our record 2021 business and financial results.”
Now, Larry Fink has founded a company that invests $10 trillion in assets, and has made himself a billionaire. He can’t be so dumb as to think that the fact that he makes money in any given year validates every decision he’s made in that year, far less the self-evidently absurd claim that companies must discriminate by race and sex and must endanger their future profitability and the survival of the world – and particularly the West, as we have seen in 2022 – because he made money last year. He must have heard of dependent and independent variables. We can therefore conclude that he still thinks either that the rest of us are very stupid indeed or that he’s still the self-crowned emperor, but simply must be ever-so-slightly less obvious about it.
In his next breaths, Fink himself underscored the fundamental fraud of his current position. About his seizure of his investors’ voice for his political purposes, he then said, “it is ultimately [investors’] choice. It is their choice where to allocate the money into what index, into what style, and we as a fiduciary will carry on their wishes.”
But wait. He and a colleague who spoke later repeatedly reaffirmed that BlackRock not only votes its investors’ proxies in favor of his personal policy preferences, whatever label he gives them, but that he and BlackRock also engage with other corporate executives outside of the proxy process to make sure that those companies adopt his policy preferences. Every syllable of that discussion revealed that when they “engage” in efforts to coerce other executives to adopt Fink and BlackRock’s deeply partisan policy goals, they do not negotiate on behalf of the fraction of BlackRock investments that are explicitly labeled ESG. No, they do it with the force of all $10 trillion of BlackRock’s investments. This seems to obviate his claim that he is respecting those “choices” by investors.
Fink later suggested that he really wishes that he could let all investors vote their own proxies, as he’s doing for his biggest investors, but that “there are significant regulatory and logistic hurdles to achieve this at the moment, and we encourage changes in this regulation so we can adapt this across all investors.” Ok. Well, what are those regulatory hurdles, so that we as investors can help you fight against them? What specifically are you doing to fight against them? (Heaven knows you’re not usually reticent when you wade into political and social controversies for “all stakeholders.”)
Most importantly: why in the world don’t you refrain from voting the proxies of those who still can’t vote their own, instead of using them to advance your favorite causes? That’s certainly within your power. And why don’t you make it clear each time you speak to a corporation to try to change its behavior that “the majority of our investors appear not to wish to see ESG developments at your company enough to make ESG-specific investments, so understand that we’re making these claims only on behalf of a minority of investors, and if we were honest we’d also and with more volume advocate the opposite, because that’s the preference that, so far as we can tell, most of our investors have expressed.”
You need to watch out when someone tells you they are voting your shares. Are those votes being made in your best interest? That’s not always the case. Read more about the dangers of ESG investments here:
- Is Your Financial Advisor Hiding the Truth About ESG?
- ESG Is Another Way to Attack Conservative Principles
- The Anti-ESG Movement Has Begun
- The Painful Truth for ESG Investors
- ESG Creator: “It’s a Marketing Mania”
- ESG Investing Serves America’s Elites and Adversaries, not Its Citizens
- ESG Managers Fail the China Test
- ILLEGAL? ESG Is Strangling Oil Exploration, and May Break the Law
Action Line: If you need help building an investment plan that keeps you in control, let’s talk.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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