One of the investing groups most active on the green front is BlackRock, which manages over $8.68 trillion in over 100 countries and is pushing hard for green investments except in China where it plans to get stinking rich on coal including linking up with China’s state financial juggernaut. And progressives seem very comfortable with it, indeed downright cozy. Tom Donilon, the Chair of the BlackRock Investment Institute, the division of the firm responsible for planning investment strategies, used to be Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor. He also spent years as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae, a government-backed private company (a worrying concept in itself) that was up to its clavicles in the 2008 financial collapse. And he knows Joe Biden well, not least because his brother is Biden’s Senior Advisor, and his wife used to be Jill Biden’s Chief of Staff and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and is now… White House personnel director.
An exposé on a conservative blog called The Last Refuge describes the extent to which BlackRock is entwined with the current American administration. And as always we encourage everyone to check the facts for themselves, and to avoid conspiracy theories. The problem here is that a lot of people who think the same way, including about the desirability of blurring the lines between government and the private sector and collecting enormous fees in the process (before joining the Obama administration Donilon was earning nearly $4 million a year securing government favours for private entities), seem to be in positions of enormous influence.
They may all be fine people and beyond reproach in every aspect of their personal and lucrative professional lives, even if Donilon’s daughter coincidentally bagged a gig on Biden’s National Security Council. But if they were doing this stuff on behalf of, say, fossil fuel firms and in Republican Administrations, many people would smell a threat to the integrity of public finances and indeed to democracy itself in the spectacle of such well-connected, well-heeled people getting rich in a weird public-private hybrid even if it did seem to strengthen western economies.
So why is it OK to do the same thing when it seems to weaken western economies?