Three of the largest investment shops in the U.S.—BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street—have long used their dominance in passive-investment funds to force corporations to comply with their preferred set of environmental, social and governance policies. Their reign, however, may be nearing its rightful end, as America’s law enforcers are waking up to the threats the Big Three pose to investors and the economy.
In an Aug. 4 letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, 19 state attorneys general questioned how the company’s ESG advocacy squares with its fiduciary duties to investors. The attorneys general specifically raised whether BlackRock’s “coordinated conduct with other financial institutions”—i.e., the two other investing giants—to demonetize the oil-and-gas industry raises potential antitrust issues.
The attorneys general are digging into an important matter, but there is a much more worrying question they must explore: Why are the Big Three pursuing these policies in lockstep? Why have no institutions in the financial-services industry except one—the recently launched Strive Asset Management—opted to place the investor first, by giving priority to profit over social issues? The seeming answer raises concerns far beyond the Big Three’s anti-oil-and-gas collusion.
Read more at Wall Street Journal