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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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SA FinMin: PIC CEO Plans to Resign

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Dr Dan Matjila, the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) of South Africa, plans to resign according to South Africa’s finance ministry, which oversees the organization. The finance ministry commented that PIC’s board was dealing with Matjila’s intentions. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Goldman Sachs Sued by Abu Dhabi SWF Unit

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International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), which is now wrapped up into Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company, is suing Goldman Sachs over its role in the 1MBD international corruption scandal. IPIC, through its unit Aabar Investments, was once an investment partner of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (IMDB). In the lawsuit, Aabar believes Goldman Sachs conspired with others to bribe both IPIC and Aabar Investment former executives. SWFI and other media outlets have written extensively on the matter.

In the fall, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) already unsealed criminal charges against key players in the massive fraudulent scheme, while Malaysian government officials have jailed its former prime minister Najib Razak.

Lloyd Blankfein, the recent former CEO of Goldman Sachs, attended a 2009 meeting with Malaysian financier Jho Low (name: Low Taek Jho). According to various media sources, Blankfein is the unidentified Goldman executive who attended the 2009 meeting in New York in the U.S. court documents.

Goldman Sachs faces a plethora of lawsuits and regulatory probes stemming from its involvement in the 1MDB scandal.

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EXPORT DREAMS: American Reliance on World Oil at an Inflection Point

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Remember the days of experts talking about peak oil. The peak oil concept is the point in which the global petroleum production rate starts its inevitable historic decline. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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