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3/28/24: Billionaire Larry Fink of BlackRock, Which Grabbed Fed Bailouts in 2020-2021, Lectures Struggling Seniors on Making More Sacrifices

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By Pam Martens and Russ Martens:

Laurence (Larry) Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock

Yesterday, billionaire Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of the giant investment manager BlackRock, released his annual letter to shareholders. In it, Fink revives the same ole trope that billionaires Kenneth Langone and Stanley Druckenmiller were taking on a road show in 2013. Back then the billionaire propaganda was called: “Generational Theft: How Entitlement Spending is Stealing Opportunity from America’s Youth.”

Every time there is talk of raising taxes on the super-rich, some of whom pay less in taxes than plumbers and teachers through a tricked-up tax dodge known as “carried interest,” the billionaires launch a concerted effort to scapegoat struggling seniors living on an average monthly Social Security retirement benefit of $1772.51.

The inability of younger Americans to save enough for retirement couldn’t possibly have anything to do with Wall Street gobbling up two-thirds of lifetime retirement savings in fees, as Frontline documented back in 2013. The late John Bogle explained in the program that if a person works for 50 years and receives the typical long-term return of 7 percent on their 401(k) plan and Wall Street’s fees are 2 percent, almost two-thirds of their retirement account will go to Wall Street. Wall Street On Parade checked the math and documented it for our readers.

The dramatic wealth and income inequality in the United States and the inability of young people to save enough to buy a home or build an adequate retirement account couldn’t possibly be because the “top 1% of American earners now control more wealth than the nation’s entire middle class,” according to federal data.

We’ll take a hard look at what Fink is spewing out as retirement savings advice in a moment, but first a hard look at this man’s adoption of crony capitalism as a business model.

In 2020 and 2021, as the Federal Reserve fashioned unprecedented bailout programs for Wall Street to address the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic, Fink was engaging in numerous phone calls with Fed Chair Jerome Powell. That information comes from Powell’s publicly-released daily calendars.

On March 1, 2021, there was a bizarre hour-long virtual meeting between Fink and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and Fed staff.

At the time of that strange virtual meeting, BlackRock was managing upwards of $11.6 million of Powell’s personal wealth in its iShares Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) according to Powell’s financial disclosure form; BlackRock had received multiple no-bid contracts from the Fed to manage bailout programs during the pandemic; BlackRock had been allowed to buy up its own iShares ETFs to prop up their share prices under one of the Fed’s bailout programs; and it had a contract to manage hundreds of billions of dollars for more than five million federal government employees in their retirement plan, known as the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).

And the Fed was not the only central bank receiving direction from BlackRock during the pandemic bailouts. (See our report: BlackRock Authored the Bailout Plan Before There Was a Crisis – Now It’s Been Hired by three Central Banks to Implement the Plan.)

And this was not the first time BlackRock had been tapped by the Fed to oversee unprecedented bailouts on Wall Street. During the Wall Street financial crisis of 2007 to 2010, the Federal Reserve gave BlackRock no-bid contracts to manage the toxic assets held in three programs known as Maiden Lane, Maiden Lane II and Maiden Lane III. These were Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) set up by the New York Fed. (See These Are the Banks that Own the New York Fed and Its Money Button.)

Maiden Lane purchased $30 billion of toxic assets from Bear Stearns as an inducement by the New York Fed to get JPMorgan to purchase the good parts of Bear Stearns. Maiden Lane II purchased mortgage-backed securities from the giant insurer, AIG, as part of a program to bail out its securities lending to Wall Street banks. Maiden Lane III purchased collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) on which AIG Financial Products had written credit default swaps that it couldn’t make good on to the Wall Street and foreign global banks to whom it owed the money. (Thus, the AIG bailout was actually a bailout of mega banks.)

BlackRock was also one of the investment managers for the Fed’s mortgage backed securities purchase program during the 2007-2010 financial crisis. It also advised the Fed on the $300 billion pool of assets of Citigroup that the Fed ring-fenced and guaranteed. Additionally, the Federal government turned to BlackRock to evaluate the toxic assets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after the government seized the entities in 2008 to prevent their collapse.

Fink’s letter to shareholders yesterday has been widely covered by mainstream media – without the above critical context.

In the letter, Fink attempts to scapegoat struggling seniors as follows:

“It’s no wonder younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, are so economically anxious. They believe my generation — the Baby Boomers — have focused on their own financial well-being to the detriment of who comes next. And in the case of retirement, they’re right.”

Fink also strongly hints that the Social Security retirement age to receive benefits needs to be increased.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 50 percent of 18-24 year olds live at home with their parents in the United States. In many cases, the roof over that family’s head is possible because of Social Security retirement benefits.

Social Security monthly retirement benefits come from the money that hard-working Americans paid into that program through their taxes over a lifetime of work. It’s not a tricked-up dodge like billionaires enjoy through “carried interest.”

Fink also offers this preposterous analysis of the 2007 to 2010 Wall Street crash in the U.S.:

“In Europe, where most assets were kept in banks, economies froze as banks were forced to shrink their balance sheets. Of course, U.S. banks had to tighten capital standards and pull back from lending as well. But because the U.S. had a more robust secondary pool of money – the capital markets — the nation was able to recover much more quickly.”

Fink is brazenly attempting to rewrite Wall Street history. The capital markets in the U.S. were in free-fall; giant financial institutions were collapsing (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Washington Mutual and Wachovia to name a few). Internal emails released by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission showed that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were likely to be next.

The capital markets did not save Wall Street. The secret and unprecedented $29 trillion money spigot from the Fed saved Wall Street and resuscitated the very villains who had brought on the financial crisis through unbridled greed and crony capitalism.

It is nothing short of a disgrace that mainstream media is giving a platform to Fink to spew his propaganda.

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