A lifelong supporter of the Democratic party, billionaire Laurence Douglas “Larry” Fink is chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the largest money-management firm in the world.
With $6 trillion in assets under management, BlackRock has enormous power over the global financial system, thanks in part to Trump’s tax laws.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Fed has turned to BlackRock to help it purchase distressed securities. Fink is a longtime donor and supporter of the New York City Police Foundation, which provides financial support to the NYPD. The nonprofit Color of Change asked Fink to divest from the foundation in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and subsequent protests.
Here are five things to Know about Larry Fink, the corporate confederacy member managing $6 trillion.
At a time when earnings for ordinary workers have stagnated, CEOs across the board have made out like bandits over the past decade. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, gave Fink a 5 percent pay raise in 2019. His $25.3 million earnings make him the highest-paid CEO in the industry, Financial Times reported.
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With basic salary, cash bonus, other payments and vested shares combined, Fink got $31 million, down from $51.3 million in 2018.
Fink has spoken a lot about the idea that corporations should create value for all “stakeholders,” not just shareholders. It’s the responsibility of the corporate world to address social and economic issues, he has said.
“Massive personal financial gain might on the surface seem at odds with an espoused social justice agenda,” author and Professor Carl Rhodes wrote for Common Dreams. “After all, inequality is the political problem of our age. Look a little deeper and there is no contradiction. This is all part of a new corporate political populism that appeals to progressive politics while benefiting from widening economic inequality.”
Stakeholder capitalism is only going to become more important under Covid-19, Fink has said. That attitude makes Fink a villain in the conservative media, Rhodes wrote. “The claim is that business people should stay focused on the direct pursuit of commercial goals. Messing around with public purpose is simply none of their business.”
The fact is Fink and others are profiting while covid-19 devastates the economy, Rhodes wrote. “They represent a very real and dangerous side of contemporary capitalism. By tipping their hats towards progressive causes, billionaires are fast becoming corporate populists, trying appeal to what they see a shifting public sentiment.
“CEOs of major corporations are increasingly wanting to position themselves as good-hearted and socially responsible citizens. This is the perfect distraction. As their personal wealth increases in a world beset by exacerbating inequality, the CEO billionaires stand proud as they profess deeply caring progressive values.”
Fink’s name came up when top donors to the Biden campaign privately discussed candidates to serve as policy advisors in his campaign or in the White House if he defeats Trump, CNBC reported in April.
Fink would be a great pick for Treasury secretary, according to people who declined to be named because the discussions were private.
Robert Wolf, a longtime Democratic donor and confidant of President Barack Obama, told CNBC that he believes Fink would be a great pick for the job. “There would be many great choices, but certainly Larry would be one of the top choices for anyone’s list,” he said.
Fink reportedly told Biden, “I’m here to help” before the former VP announced his run for president in April 2019. Fink supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election and many wanted him to be her choice if she beat Trump.
“Larry Fink w/ over $6 Trillion at Blackrock is telling EVERYONE, SELL! His people are trying to get him into the Biden administration” The Moguldom Nation CEO Jamarlin Martin tweeted.
Climate activists dislike the fact that BlackRock maintains billions of dollars of investment in fossil fuel businesses.
Fossil-fuel opponents say BlackRock is “the largest or second-largest shareholder in Big Oil giants” and “the biggest single investor in the 56 companies most responsible for building new coal plants in the developing world,” Washington Post reported.
BlackRock also has interests in clean energy that are varied, longstanding and growing, according to Green Tech Media. The company recently upped its stake in SolarEdge to 10.3 percent, and it holds stakes in Ørsted, Vestas, SunPower, First Solar and Vivint Solar, to name a few. BlackRock is the largest shareholder in German utility giant RWE and SDE in the U.K. and Ireland. In the past year, RWE and SSE have committed to developing huge portfolios of renewables.
Fink promised to divest from companies deriving 25 percent or more of their revenue from thermal coal and push companies to make climate and sustainability disclosures, Green Tech Media reported.
He told companies to expect extra scrutiny on carbon emissions and governance.
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There are problems with making such a promise. “One is that BlackRock looks after a lot of other people’s money so it doesn’t have the final say on where it’s invested,” John Parnell wrote for Green Tech Media. “Where it does have discretion over funds, those have all been removed from companies hitting that 25 percent revenue threshold from thermal coal as of May. The second complication is that clients may wish to invest in indexes of funds that include those companies. That’s out of BlackRock’s control.”
At a shareholder meeting, Fink said that BlackRock was “trying to make sure that we are representing the ideas, the needs of our clients” who live in different parts of the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal isn’t buying that, writing in an opinion piece, “We suspect his foremost goal is to be Joe Biden’s Treasury Secretary. Perhaps he is figuring out that the left will never forgive him for having made money as a capitalist, even if he now refuses to defend capitalism.”