Once again, the Trump and Biden administrations have proven that federal agencies that were initially established to protect American consumers are nothing more than conduits for deep state control, which is why it is vitally important for more states to begin shunning any and all federal control.
During the last two administrations, two of the world’s biggest investment managers, Blackrock and Vanguard, were allowed to purchase huge stakes in local utilities, which is a problem because in most cases around the country, there is only one utility company that serves a wide swath of the population.
In April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a request from BlackRock to increase its ownership up to 20 percent of a public utility’s voting shares without being deemed an “affiliate” and incurring the regulatory scrutiny and disclosures that come with that. To gain FERC approval, BlackRock and Vanguard promised they’d be “passive” investors and not use their share ownership to influence management.
Oh, well, good. They ‘promised.’ But why else buy into these utilities?
Due to the monopolistic nature of utility companies and because they hold so much importance over people’s lives, any investment of more than $10 million has to be approved by FERC. However, as The Epoch Times noted further, “BlackRock and Vanguard received blanket approval in 2019 to surpass this limit for three years, and BlackRock was just given blanket approval for another three years.”
So, that will make six total years that the federal agency set up to protect against outsized investments in utility companies has allowed outsized investments in utility companies, completely negating the agency’s purpose. And why? Money, of course — it’s always about money.
Nevertheless, the investments have begun to set off alarm bells in the offices of both conservative and liberal state attorneys general. Last month, 13 AGs petitioned FERC — obviously unsuccessfully — to deny the investment firms’ request for the three-year extension, claiming that their citizens would be harmed if the utility companies are then compelled to stop utilizing fossil fuels in lieu of wind and solar.
“Vanguard is not entitled to a blanket authorization to acquire substantial equity and voting power in utility companies,” the AGs argued.
“Vanguard’s own public commitments and other statements have at the very least created the appearance that Vanguard has breached its promises to the commission by engaging in environmental activism and using its financial influence to manipulate the activities of the utility companies in its portfolio,” the petition said. “A hearing in this matter is warranted to determine the extent to which Vanguard has violated the 2019 authorization and whether granting Vanguard a blanket authorization is contrary to the public interest.”
Some FERC officials echoed the concern. FERC Commissioner Mark Christie stated: “The claim that huge asset managers such as BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard are merely passive investors in publicly held corporations, investing purely for the benefit of their beneficiaries—many of whom are retirees receiving pensions—is no longer credible.
“BlackRock, in particular, has been openly aggressive in using its massive financial power to influence corporate policy in areas far attenuated from the legitimate money-management goals of protecting the incomes and investment interests of its beneficiaries,” he added.
Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway—which is chaired by Warren Buffett—agreed, stating in February that “we have a new bunch of emperors, and they’re the people who vote the shares in the index funds. I think the world of [BlackRock CEO] Larry Fink, but I’m not sure I want him to be my emperor.”
Republican senators agree.
“A retail investor who buys an index fund does not own the stock in the fund,” said a December report by the Senate Banking Committee’s GOP members. “Those stocks instead are owned by the fund, which means the fund’s manager may vote those shares. Even though they buy that voting power with other people’s money, that voting power gives asset managers like the Big Three enormous influence.”
“What these activists have figured out is that any radical policy that they can’t get enacted through government can be advanced through corporate America by hijacking trillions of dollars in voting rights from everyday Americans’ retirement accounts,” noted Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.).
The economy of a first-world power cannot sustain itself on wind and solar power. Just ask Germany.