Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bad Day at BlackRock?

Or a really really lucrative one?

Robert Scheer sends up a warning flare:
How much do you know about the BlackRock hedge fund? Better bone up fast, now that the folks at BlackRock are calling the shots in the government’s trillion-dollar bailout program. As both The New York Times and The Wall Street journal reported on Tuesday, BlackRock execs are now directing key elements of the government program at a time when they stand to reap great profits from the fallout of a problem they helped create.

The U.S. picked BlackRock to manage the assets once controlled by AIG and Bear Stearns and to analyze the assets of Freddie Mac and Morgan Stanley. And as if that were not enough on its plate, the Treasury Department has just selected BlackRock to be one of the few firms trusted with using U.S. taxpayer dollars to buy toxic assets from the banks and then resell them in a process that presents enormous conflicts of interest with other BlackRock operations.

Bank of America, with a 47% ownership position in BlackRock, is also the owner of what was once Countrywide Financial, which led the pack in selling bad mortgages. The disposition of those failed properties under BlackRock’s tutelage will have much to do with BofA’s future profitability. As if that were not enough financial incest, the former president and other top executives of Countrywide now run a company created by BlackRock, which is profiting mightily by snapping up the sort of distressed loans that they originally had marketed.

Confused? You’re supposed to be. That’s the point of a successful hedge fund, a totally unregulated activity in which very rich people pool their money in order to more effectively rip off the rest of us. And BlackRock is at the top of that game, managing $1.3 trillion in assets. But in this round the stakes are far higher because BlackRock, which did a great deal to cause the economic meltdown, has now been put in charge of the government recovery effort.
Read the whole thing. And then decide just where in the garden you want to bury your family silver and jars of coins....

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