Kevin Stocklin at the American Conservative writes on the growing Civil War For America’s Banks. He explains,
Progressives, with the assistance of the Biden administration, have succeeded in pushing JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other major banks into left-wing activism, shunning industries including oil and gas producers and gun manufacturers, and fighting conservative state laws on issues like abortion.
Increasingly, however, red states are joining together to fight back. . . . “If banks want to continue to boycott the fossil-fuel industry, they have the right to do that,” said West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore. “We also have a right not to do business with them.” . . . “This is a very existential threat to us,” he said. Losing fossil-fuel companies “would be cataclysmic for our economy. We are fighting for our livelihood.”
West Virginia is one of 17 states that have joined together since November 2021 to deny municipal contracts to banks that discriminate against energy producers. Collectively, these states control more than $700 billion in assets and lucrative banking fees.
But states have other tools to resist the boycotts of politically disfavored groups. As Stocklin explains. in pushing a unified “net-zero” climate agenda, banks may be operating as an illegal cartel that is colluding to reduce financing to American energy producers. That could make them the subject of anti-trust lawsuits. In support of this theory, Stocklin points to a white paper by Amb. C. Boyden Gray which explains that when ostensible competitor lenders start moving in parallel to cut off liquidity and capital for America’s energy sector, they may be extending an invitation to boycott.
The FTC has maintained that such invitations to boycott, on their own—even if the invitations go unheeded—can violate federal antitrust law. As the FTC and the DOJ reiterated last year in a joint statement, ‘even absent a collusive agreement,’ antitrust enforcers may ‘pursue a civil enforcement action against companies and individuals that invite others to collude.’ If made with an intent to invite or signal competitors to join a group boycott, these announcements could violate the law.
Amb. Gray also discussed these issues in a 2020 editorial in the Wall Street Journal.
The full American Conservative article, entitled The Civil War for America’s Banks, is available here.