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Florida withdraws $2 billion from the world’s largest investment business over ESG criticism

DeSantis' most recent campaign focused on combating "woke ideology," which he claims is invading the state

As part of a rising vengeance against Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment practises, Florida is withdrawing $2 billion from BlackRock, the largest divestment ever done.

According to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other Republican leaders, by considering ESG principles while making investment decisions, the corporation is not prioritising the bottom line.

Some context: ESG investing has risen in popularity in recent years, with BlackRock, the world’s largest investment corporation, playing a significant role. When BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said three years ago that ESG was the way of the future, it was a big thing.

And for a few years, things were good. In 2020 and 2021, ESG funds outperformed the market by ~4.3%. But that didn’t stop the practice from becoming a political target in 2022.

DeSantis’ most recent campaign focused on combating “woke ideology,” which he claims is invading the state. In response, Florida approved a resolution in August stating that ESG requirements should be ignored when investing public assets.

He isn’t the only one:

  • Other Republican-controlled states, including Missouri and Louisiana, have moved almost $1.3 billion away from BlackRock for similar reasons.
  • Texas flagged BlackRock as a financial firm that boycotts the state’s energy industry (something BlackRock has denied).

Meanwhile, Democrats are dissatisfied as well… They criticise BlackRock and, more broadly, ESG investing for not going far enough (and for using lax standards that let oil giants onto lists of ESG investments).

Bottom line: BlackRock and Florida have been condemned for forever to cry “How could you choose politics above returns?” back and forth, and the fight over ESG investment is far from ended. Republicans are poised to gain control of the House after a record-breaking campaign season, so we can expect more drama at the federal level shortly.

In other news,

While the crisis in Ukraine continues, Western nations have been debating how to reduce Russia’s oil earnings without creating severe disruptions to energy markets in which Russia plays a significant role.

They believe they have found an innovative solution: starting today, the G-7 (a group of major democracies) and Australia will impose a price restriction on Russian oil of $60 per barrel…continue reading

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