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In Fink We Trust: BlackRock Is Now ‘Fourth Branch of Government’

When the Fed looked for bond-buying help in a crisis, it turned to the giant money manager.

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Photographer: Illustration: Scott Gelber for Bloomberg Businessweek

When the Federal Reserve needed Wall Street’s help with its pandemic rescue mission, it went straight to Larry Fink. The BlackRock Inc. co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer has become one of the industry’s most important government whisperers. In contrast to other influential financiers who’ve built on ties to President Trump, Fink possesses a power that’s more technocratic. BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, can do the things governments need right now.

The company’s new assignment is a much bigger version of one it took on after the 2008 financial crisis, when the Federal Reserve enlisted it to dispose of toxic mortgage securities from Bear Stearns & Co. and American International Group Inc. This time it will help the Fed prop up the entire corporate bond market by purchasing, on the central bank’s behalf, what could become a $750 billion portfolio of debt.