Wall Street must speak sooner to defend democracy

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David Solomon of Goldman Sachs, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, Michael Corbat of Citigroup and Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan expressed dismay and disgust at the rioters who stormed the Capitol to prevent Congress from confirming the president-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the November election.

Larry Fink of BlackRock and Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, a friend and supporter of Trump, also decried the mess.

For many, Wednesday was the day President Donald Trump completed the transition from a political agitator to a dangerous threat to democracy. But Wall Street has been aware of its intention to falsely undermine the election – and therefore trust in American democracy – for months. Long before November, he was already making unsubstantiated predictions of electoral fraud.

The financiers also backed him for four years of climate change denial, lies and divisive politics.

Schwarzman, hedge fund mogul John Paulson, tech venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Nelson Peltz, founder of activist investor Trian, all donated to Trump’s 2020 campaign.

Thiel is excited about green energy, while Blackstone and Trian tout their ESG credentials.

No business executive who claims to care about ESG can back Trump again.

ESG can’t just be a checkbox or an opportunity to signal virtue when horrible news compels financiers to speak up. It must be part of the fabric of banks and investors.

Bold words are welcome. But Big Finance must go further, defend good governance and eliminate bad ones at all times.

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