Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy discussed how large asset managers are seeking to roll back their woke investing schemes as politically agnostic investors balk at their lackluster results.
Earlier this year, Ramaswamy — a bestselling author and former pharmaceutical CEO — launched an asset management firm called Strive to compete with institutional investors that compel portfolio companies to embrace the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) movement, by which they must adopt objectives that mingle left-wing politics with profitability. In a new episode of “The Search,” Ramaswamy explained to Shapiro that clients without social agendas are now objecting to large managers’ politicized use of their capital.
A few years ago, according to Ramaswamy, “what happened was all of the other clients who had their head in the sand as this was happening just got dragged along for the ride.”
“These guys over here … they want me to advance these social, cultural, and political agendas. And then there’s these guys over here, call them red and purple states … that aren’t saying anything,” Ramaswamy said about large asset managers’ investment calculus. “I’m going to do what they say as long as I can continue managing money for everybody.”
“When you’re all things to all people, and some are more active than others, then just please the activists,” Shapiro summarized. “Exactly,” Ramaswamy replied.
Indeed, there exists a considerable number of investors who believe it is a “good thing” for companies to leverage their financial power for political or social means supported by executives, according to an exclusive poll from The Daily Wire released earlier this year. However, 58% said that executives seeking their own political agendas is a “bad thing.”
“What’s happened much more recently is that the guys over here have said, ‘No, actually, we really only want you to look after our financial interests and nothing else.’ So then they find themselves in a bit of a pickle,” Ramaswamy continued.
While the pension funds of states like California and New York request certain political and social stipulations of their asset managers, officials from conservative states are now sounding the alarm over woke investing and the risk it poses to their citizens’ way of life. Most recently, the state government of Texas cut ties with BlackRock, UBS, and other firms that are hostile toward the oil industry “without an ordinary business purpose.”
Ramaswamy and Shapiro noted that the rapid shift toward woke investing began after the election of President Donald Trump. Among other actions, the former commander-in-chief pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement — an international treaty that calls for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030. Ramaswamy said that asset managers believe, “If government is not going to step up and do its job, then leaders of institutions must work together to address these shared global challenges.”
“What does that mean? It means a certain guy got elected who we didn’t like,” Ramaswamy added.
Woke investing, however, lost a high degree of credibility following recent stock market turmoil. While many asset management firms invested heavily in technology companies — which are known for bankrolling social justice initiatives in reaction to national events like the death of George Floyd or the overturning of Roe v. Wade — they were among the first to lay off large segments of their staff. Meanwhile, oil and gas companies — from which many leading investment institutions have been divesting — are enjoying record profits.