BlackRock, JPMorgan and State Street Retreat From a Climate Group

BlackRock, JPMorgan and State Street Retreat From a Climate Group

Climate hawks have long questioned the financial industry’s commitment to sustainable investing. But few foresaw JPMorgan Chase and State Street quitting Climate Action 100+, a global investment coalition that has been pushing companies to decarbonize. Meanwhile, BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, scaled back its ties to the group.

All told, the moves amount to a nearly $14 trillion exit from an organization meant to marshal Wall Street’s clout to expand the climate agenda.

The retreat jolted the political landscape. Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who compared the coalition to a “cartel” forcing businesses to cut emissions, called for more financial companies to follow suit. And Brad Lander, New York City’s comptroller, accused the firms of “caving into the demands of right-wing politicians funded by the fossil-fuel industry.”

The companies say they’re committed to the climate cause. JPMorgan said it had built an in-house sustainable investment team to focus on green issues. And BlackRock will maintain some ties to the coalition: It has transferred its membership to an international entity.

A recent shift by Climate Action raised red flags. Last summer, the group shifted its focus from pressuring companies to disclose their net-zero progress to getting them to reduce emissions.

State Street said the new priorities compromised its “independent approach to proxy voting and portfolio company management.” And BlackRock, which has become a political lightning rod over its embrace of climate considerations in investing, said those tactics “would raise legal considerations, particularly in the U.S.” (Hence the transfer to an overseas division.)

Political heat on environmental issues remains high. House Republicans, including Jordan, have opened an investigation into the firm and other Wall Street giants into whether their support of environmental, social and corporate governance considerations for investing violates antitrust rules.

Thomas DiNapoli, New York State’s comptroller, told DealBook that he was “disappointed” by private asset managers backing away from the climate group. (He announced on Thursday that the pension fund for the state’s government workers would restrict investments in Exxon and seven other oil and gas companies because of their sustainability track record.)

The S.E.C. approves the deal to take Donald Trump’s social network public. Shares in Digital World Acquisition Corporation, the blank-check company that agreed to merge with Trump’s Truth Social, jumped 16 percent on the news. At current prices, Trump’s stake in the post-merger company is worth nearly $4 billion on paper.

The Justice Department reportedly plans to review the proposed sports super-app. Antitrust officials will examine the joint venture that would combine content from Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery for potential harm to consumers and sports leagues, according to Bloomberg. Company executives say the venture is meant to address cord-cutting and won’t enable collusion, but skeptics say it would reduce competition for sports rights.

A Chinese electric vehicle giant is said to be weighing building a factory in Mexico. BYD, which recently surpassed Tesla as the world’s biggest seller of E.V.s, is reviewing potential locations for a plant, according to The Wall Street Journal. That could enable the carmaker to export to the U.S. without incurring hefty tariffs, but it would face stiff opposition from American rivals.

The soccer superstar Kylian Mbappé plans to say goodbye to Paris Saint-Germain. Mbappé told the French club that he will leave when his $215-million-per-year contract expires at the end of the season, raising questions about which team could afford him. (Betting odds are on Real Madrid of Spain.) In other sports news, Rob Manfred said he’ll step down as commissioner of Major League Baseball in 2029.

The race to advance the field of artificial intelligence is growing more intense. The latest: OpenAI on Thursday unveiled Sora, a product that can generate Hollywood-quality (for the most part) videos from text prompts within a matter of seconds.

OpenAI’s new tool, and others like it, will undoubtedly put more pressure on regulators to put limits on A.I., especially given the dangers the technology poses for upcoming elections should it fall into the wrong hands.

Sora shows how quickly A.I. is advancing. Ten months ago, versions of the video-generating technology produced four-second clips that were blurry and choppy. OpenAI’s product, by contrast, makes 60-second content that resembles work from a major studio.

Sora is far from the only video-from-text generator out there; Google, Meta and others are also on the case.

That alarms A.I. watchdogs. “I am absolutely terrified that this kind of thing will sway a narrowly contested election,” Oren Etzioni of the University of Washington told The Times. Regulators are already wary of A.I.’s potential for election mischief, given incidents like a series of robocalls in New Hampshire that featured faked comments masquerading as President Biden’s.

Part of new A.I. legislation that Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York has proposed — broadly meant to criminalize some deceptive uses of the technology — includes requiring the disclosure of A.I. use in all political communications.

Tech giants are aware of the risks. OpenAI’s Sam Altman said at the World Economic Forum last month that he was wary of how his company’s products might be misused. Companies like Meta are also pushing for industrywide steps like labeling A.I.-generated content.

OpenAI isn’t releasing Sora widely yet, with researchers and others testing it first. The company will also tag Sora-produced videos with watermarks identifying it as A.I. generated, though those can be removed and are difficult to spot.

It’s unclear how far companies are willing to go to restrain the promising technologies. Lessons might be learned from their efforts to police political content: Katie Harbath, a former public policy executive at Meta’s Facebook, told The Wall Street Journal that tech platforms are struggling with what is permissible and which penalties are acceptable. “A lot of them have been more like, ‘It’s probably better for us to be as hands-off as possible,’” she said.

Lina Khan, the F.T.C. chair, responding to an article in The Cut by Charlotte Cowles, a financial columnist, about how she got scammed out of $50,000 that has since gone viral.

In a week full of market-moving head scratchers — including the hotter-than-expected inflation report — the earnings release typo that briefly spurred a huge rally in Lyft’s stock still stands out.

“I don’t recall anything quite so egregious, where we had a stock go up basically 60-plus percent after hours,” Steve Sosnick, the chief strategist at Interactive Brokers, told DealBook. “It was eye-watering.”

A recap: On Tuesday, Lyft told investors that it expected its profit margin to grow this year by 500 basis points, or 5 percent, well above what market watchers were expecting.

… Except that the company later said the release should have read 50 basis points, or 0.5 percent. “This was a bad error,” David Risher, Lyft’s C.E.O., told Bloomberg, “but it was one zero in a press release.”

That “one zero” was a big deal. The company’s shares jumped 62 percent in a matter of minutes, adding hundreds of millions in market value, then sank when the company clarified the number. (It rallied again on Thursday after a slew of analysts upgraded their price targets for the stock.)

The initial surge was a reminder of the ubiquity of A.I.-driven electronic trading, and how the technology can trigger a market frenzy. “The algorithms are faster at reading the data than people are,” Sosnick said. When bots read an extra zero in an earnings release, they are programmed to pounce. In the case of Lyft, it was buy, buy, buy.

Wall Street has grown dependent on algorithms for well over a decade, with sophisticated retail investors following suit. Advances in natural-language processing, a branch of artificial intelligence, enable these programs to comb market-moving events — including company press releases, newswire stories, social media posts — and trade on it.

Expect these systems to be focused on Friday’s University of Michigan consumer sentiment report and next week’s Nvidia earnings report.

A.I. proponents want to take things further, using generative A.I., the technology behind chatbots like ChatGPT, to make these systems quicker and smarter. (Of course, these systems still have significant flaws, including their occasionally hallucinating — tech speak for “making stuff up.”)


  • Barclays is reportedly fielding offers from private equity firms like Brookfield Asset Management and CVC Capital for its payments business, which could be valued at $1.3 billion. (Bloomberg)

  • The latest hedge fund bet is on cocoa, to the tune of $8.7 billion. (FT)

  • A former executive at BlackRock is setting up shop at Lingotto, the investment firm backed by the billionaire Agnelli family, to make deals involving esoteric assets. (WSJ)


  • Amazon is contending that the National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional, a legal argument recently advanced by SpaceX and Trader Joe’s. (NYT)

  • “New York City is suing TikTok and Instagram for ‘addicting’ children” (The Verge)

Best of the rest

  • Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, collapsed and died at the penal colony where he was being detained, according to state media. (NYT)

  • Boston faces a tax deficit of nearly $1 billion as the office-building crisis intensifies. (Bloomberg)

  • “The Insatiable Ambition of LeBron James” (WSJ)

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Kyle C. Garrison

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