An exploration of how politically and socially progressive individuals can invest their money with financial institutions seeking to alleviate socio-economic inequities.
Mestrich is the president of Amalgamated Bank, described as “the nation’s leading socially responsible bank,” and Pinsky is a former leader of what is known as the community development financial institution industry. The authors devote much of the book to educating their readers on the financial system. They understand that even the most politically progressive individuals tend to deposit their savings in nearby bank branches due to habit and/or convenience as well as buy insurance from massive corporations that feed elected officials tied to anti-egalitarian conservative politics. “Organized money holds immense power and influence, which we call money muscle,” write the authors. “The U.S. financial sector is the dominant economic, policy, political, social, and cultural force in the world. It largely determines who in the private and public sectors gets to do what with the extraordinary amount of money in play. And it is deeply and proudly conservative.” Mestrich and Pinsky are convinced that progressives control enough money—though not nearly as much as conservatives—to create their own financial institutions, which will then practice socially responsible investing. One example is Mestrich’s Amalgamated Bank, another is the credit union, an institution controlled by its members. The authors provide many other concrete examples of specific progressive enterprises that organize money so it can be leveraged in ways that would disdain most conservative politicians and financiers. The authors note that while the 2008 financial crash raised awareness of the importance of pulling money away from traditional banks, regulators failed to make any significant improvements or install effective safeguards. The authors do good service in laying out the foundational principles of a nascent but growing movement, but the density of the narrative may deter some readers.
A thought-provoking primer sometimes weighed down by abstraction and repetition.