by Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Wall Street on Parade
Yesterday, during a Senate Banking hearing with witnesses Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Senator Elizabeth Warren grilled Yellen on why BlackRock wasn’t being investigated for posing a systemic risk to the U.S. financial system. Warren stated:
“BlackRock is the world’s largest asset management firm, overseeing nearly $9 trillion in assets. That’s more than double where it was 10 years ago. It also holds a stake in just about every company listed on the S&P 500. To put that in perspective, Blackrock manages more assets than the entire GDP of Japan, or Germany, or Great Britain or any other nation in the world, except the United States and China.”
BlackRock may, indeed, pose a systemic risk to the U.S. financial system but it’s not because it holds a stake in just about every company listed on the S&P 500. It’s because it produces Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) which promise intraday liquidity for buyers and sellers, which clearly is not the case during a market panic. During the market panic over the pandemic last year, the Fed gave a no-bid contract to BlackRock to manage its corporate bond buying programs, which included allowing BlackRock to bail out its own junk bond and investment grade bond ETFs that were tanking.