Morningstar, through its wholly owned subsidiary Sustainalytics, may be applying ESG criteria in a way that advances the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, according to a letter signed by 17 state attorneys general. The BDS movement is an anti-Semitic effort to delegitimize the State of Israel. The movement advances these aims through academic, cultural, and economic initiatives that punish people and firms for doing business with Israel.
The letter highlights that engaging with our democratic ally Israel counts against a company’s ESG score under Sustainalytics’ woke metric. Not only is this practice unfair, but it runs counter to the laws, executive orders, or resolutions in opposition to BDS adopted by 35 states.
The Morningstar case underscores the inherently insidious nature of ESG. Self-appointed woke activists are assigning scores to rate companies on meeting left-wing goals – in this case, citing against Israel’s right to exist. The resulting ESG “risk ratings” have an undue influence on investment decisions made by government entities and financial managers.
Engine No. 1, an activist hedge fund with just a 0.02% stake in ExxonMobile put together a slate of board candidates in 2021, intent on moving the company away from oil and gas and toward so-called “green” energy. Despite being new, tiny and having virtually no relevant experience in managing an energy company, Engine No. 1 ultimately succeeded in replacing three ExxonMobile board members. But this is no David and Goliath story; thanks to its focus on ESG investing, Engine No. 1 attracted the backing of BlackRock, along with Vanguard, and State Street Global Advisors. Together, the Big 3 investment advisors control more than 20% of Exxon Mobil’s voting stock, and the truth is that Exxon barely had a chance against such a financial juggernaut.
For investment advisors like BlackRock which charges premium rates for ESG investment, this was a big victory. But for investors and people with retirement funds managed by BlackRock should be very concerned. Because advancing the progressive’s objectives through ESG displaces maximizing returns for clients as the highest priority, ESG investing generally yields lower returns than traditional investing, harming current and future retirees.
BlackRock’s troubling ties to China were highlighted by Consumers Research in their Consumers Warning: BlackRock: Taking Your Money Betting on China.
Using funds belonging to current and future American pensioners, BlackRock under CEO Larry Fink is using ESG as a weapon to circumvent the democratic process and impose a progressive agenda. Meanwhile, at a time when the western world stands together in condemning China’s human rights abuses and genocide against the Muslim Uyghurs, BlackRock ignores its own corporate social responsibility. Far from divesting from Chinese companies, it is doubling down on business partnerships with the communist government.
BlackRock’s relationship with China is so close that in 2015, Fink was summoned to China to provide counsel to the Chinese Communist Party on how to address a downturn in the market there, and he continues to advise the CCP to this day.
“I continue to firmly believe China will be one of the biggest opportunities for BlackRock over the long term, both for asset managers and investors, despite the uncertainty and decoupling of global systems we’re seeing today,” Fink wrote to shareholders in 2020. The same year, BlackRock won CCP approval to start the first wholly foreign-owned mutual fund business in China, thus incentivizing BlackRock to prioritize Chinese companies over their U.S. competitors.
In its latest Consumers Warning: BlackRock Crushing America from Within, Consumers’ Research highlights the commitments BlackRock has made again using the pensions of hard-working Americans to wage on American energy while also putting America’s national security at risk.
Larry Fink has been explicit in his demands that U.S. companies do more to address climate change or face the consequences. Even as BlackRock tries to force American companies to adopt positions that would decimate U.S. oil production, it pumps money into foreign oil companies – without applying the same standards.
As a new shareholder of Apple Inc, Strive Asset Management wrote a letter to Apple’s Chairman of the Board and CEO asking why is it in the best interest of Apple’s shareholders for the company to conduct a “racial equity audit”?
Apple is an American multinational technology company specializing in consumer electronics, software, and online services.
During their 2022 Annual Meeting, Apple’s board initially rejected a shareholder proposal to conduct a third-party civil rights audit to determine how Apple contributes to social and economic inequality.
However, Apple’s shareholders, including BlackRock, Apple’s second-largest shareholder, which has approximately 6.4% stake in the company, reversed the board’s vote and committed to the company not only to conduct the audit but also to come up with recommendations to improve its civil rights impact.
As Strive Asset Management mentions in their letter, the fundamental problem with this is that the third-party shareholders are not the actual capital owners of Apple; it’s the everyday citizens who invest with third-party investors.
This is another example of how third-party investors/shareholders are using ESG to force companies to place their own progressive political agenda over shareholder returns.