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Is BlackRock Too Big?

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BlackRock NY

With continued loose monetary policy and relatively less regulatory hurdles than banks and brokers, gargantuan U.S. asset management firms have financially prospered over the past years. According to an SEC filing, as of December 31, 2014, BlackRock reached US$ 4.652 trillion in assets under management. This monumental figure is an 8% increase from last year’s number. In 2006, BlackRock’s assets under management crossed the US$ 1 trillion threshold. To put things into perspective, the U.S. retirement market in 2013 was worth US$ 23 trillion, according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI). Using BlackRock’s assets under management figure for December 2013 of US$ 4.324 trillion, the asset manager stacks up, as being almost a fifth the size of the whole U.S. retirement market. BlackRock’s AUM is majority made up of institutional investors at 65% – a key revenue generator. The asset manager counts sovereign wealth funds, central banks, pensions, life insurance companies and endowments as major clients.

BlackRock’s Assets Under Management


Data: Trillions USD – December End Dates

We Are the Good Guys

In the post-global financial crisis years, DC policymakers are identifying potential systemic threats to the global financial system. The easy culprits were the over-leveraged banks and insurance companies. Traditional asset managers have faced far less scrutiny compared to hedge funds, investment banks and insurance companies.

However, the concentration of assets in large asset managers has steadily grown over the years.

Asset managers contend, due to their very nature of managing other people’s money, they are not taking specific risk on their own balance sheets. Thus, investment managers believe they are less susceptible to financial distress versus banks, brokers and insurers. Brand name managers such as PIMCO, BlackRock and Fidelity Investments have further debated that asset managers like them, should not be designated systemically important financial institutions (SIFI). BlackRock is using its financial muscle to lobby on Capitol Hill. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, since 2010, BlackRock has spent over US$ 1 million in annual lobbying.

In late 2014, the debate between the FSB and the SEC has shifted toward analyzing an asset manager’s products and services versus an individual asset manager.

Potential Criteria For Asset Managers

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Marina One and DUO Officially Open

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Khazanah Nasional Berhad and Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited announced the official opening of two major building projects, Marina One and DUO. Together the properties have a gross development value of 11 billion SGD. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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SWFI First Read, January 16, 2018

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BP Plans to Take $1.7 Billion Charge to End Legal Claims on Deepwater Horizon

BP Plc is planning to take a US$ 1.7 billion charge to end legal claims regarding the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ethereum Co-Founder Leaves Fenbushi Capital

Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of Ethereum, which is a cryptocurrency, exited China-based Fenbushi Capital. Fenbushi Capital was formed in 2015. Buterin is retaining his role as an advisor of Fenbushi Capital. Buterin dropped out of the University of Waterloo in 2014 when he got a Thiel Fellowship. This permitted him to work on Ethereum full time.

Kingdom Holding Sells Four Seasons Beirut Hotel Stake

Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding sold its position in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut for roughly US$ 100 million. Blominvest, a unit of Blom Bank, advised on the transaction. The Four Seasons will continue to manage the property.

Mercer Signs Deal to Buy BFC

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Deutsche Bundesbank to Slowly Add Renminbi into Foreign Reserve Mix

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Deutsche Bundesbank’s executive board made a decision to invest in Chinese renminbi in the summer of 2017 as part of its foreign currency reserves. The German central bank on January 15, 2018, confirmed it will start investing in Chinese renminbi and also consider investing in additional foreign currencies. The move mimics the European Central Bank (ECB), which already considers the Chinese renminbi as a reserve currency. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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