The Left’s Little Financial Engine That Could (Change the World Radically)

Shown, the website of Amalgamated Bank, whose outsized influence is explained by its extensive ties to movers and shakers on the American left, from President Biden on down.

Amalgamated Bank, with just five branches across three cities, and a market value lower than the net worth of many an individual hedge fund honcho, would seem an unlikely mover and shaker in the world of Wall Street, let alone Washington, D.C. 

“It’s a bank for an ideological movement.”

Yet last fall, it successfully pressured colossal credit card companies Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to use the financial system to track and report gun purchases. Amalgamated is “more than a bank,” says Michael Watson of the Capital Research Center. “It’s a bank for an ideological movement.” 

This “ideological” bank holds $7 billion in deposits and manages or maintains custody of some $51 billion. And while that sounds like a great deal of money, it pales in comparison to financial institutions such as JP Morgan, with its $2.4 trillion in deposits, or the $8.6 trillion in assets managed by BlackRock. But Amalgamated’s outsized influence doesn’t flow from the size of its coffers. Rather, it’s explained by its role as cue to the wider corporate world given the major sources of that money – the Democratic Party, progressive activist groups, and major labor unions. 

During political election cycles, such as at the end of the third quarter of 2022, upwards of $1 billion – or 17% of Amalgamated’s total deposits – come from Democratic campaigns, political action committees, and state and national party committees. Amalgamated is the commercial banker for the Democratic National Committee, along with Joe Biden and virtually every other 2020 presidential contender, and congressional leaders like Rep. Nancy Pelosi. All told, Amalgamated serves more than 500 political organizations – in addition to adjacent groups such as Color of Change and the Sierra Club. As the New York Times said of Amalgamated, it is “the left’s private banker.” 

The bank also works side-by-side with more than 1,000 unions, including the nation’s second largest union overall, the Service Employees International Union – alongside other behemoth government employee unions including the United Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “[Y]ou might see us out there walking with” picketing workers, to whom Amalgamated provides “strike loans,” the company notes. The bulk of Amalgamated’s trust and investment management business comes from institutional clients, including union pension funds. 

Andrew Ross Sorkin: New York Times journalist — and advocate of gun-tracking embraced by Amalgamated.

Amalgamated’s unusual position and nature distinguish it from other financial institutions that have embraced the Environmental Social and Governance movement (ESG), such as BlackRock and JP Morgan. Its deep ties to the Democratic Party and its support for liberal and leftist political causes may make it a new model for how progressive corporations, politicians, and activists can work together to push favored causes outside the political process. 

Richard Morrison, senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, said Amalgamated can, at a minimum, “serve as an example for other managers and CEOs who want to make their mark as the most ‘enlightened’ players at the next big management conference or World Economic Forum annual meeting.” 

Read the full article on Real Clear Investigations.