BY STACEY LENNOX 11:51 PM ON OCTOBER 06, 2022
Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder is not sure why his latest announcement is making the news. On Wednesday, he sent a letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to inform him that Louisiana will divest all Treasury funds from the investment firm. To date, Schroder’s office has removed $560 million from BlackRock funds, and a total of $794 million will be removed by year’s end. Schroder is taking issue with BlackRock’s intent to push an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda ahead of investment growth.
“I have been the State Treasurer for five years, and this is not the first time I have had to battle financial institutions trying to push a political agenda,” Schroder said during an interview. A few years ago, banks tried to punish Louisiana for its laws supporting the Second Amendment. “If you want to change gun policy in Louisiana, go to the legislature and get a law passed that the governor will sign. Then I will follow it,” he said. “You don’t get to use financial pressure to go around the legislative process.”
In his letter, Schroder reminded Fink of a few salient facts related to the decision to move Louisiana’s funds:
You have admitted that your ESG agenda of forcing behaviors will not increase investor returns. Your 2022 letter to CEOs stated plainly that “We need to be honest about the fact that green products often come at a higher cost.” High cost/low return environmental policies will reduce a company’s profits…and investors’ returns.
Then there is the matter of returns. Recently Blackrock set a record for “the largest amount of money lost by a single firm over a six-month period” having “lost $1.7 trillion of clients’ money,” associated with ESG accounts, according to a July 20, 2022 Bloomberg article titled “BlackRock Is Breaking the Wrong Kind of Records.” Such huge losses would seem to indicate that BlackRock is either not focused on investor returns or that its ESG investment strategy is flawed. Neither bodes well for investors.
While he acknowledges that BlackRock continues to invest in oil and gas companies, he concluded that it does not counterbalance the investment firm’s stated intent to force those companies—and all others—to adopt ESG-friendly practices, regardless of whether they are in the best interest of their investors.