Economics/Class Relations

BlackRock backlash

July 18, 2023
Hey there! If the Elon Musk-Mark Zuckerberg cage fight ever actually happens, we might have the perfect undercard: Lauren Boebert versus Marjorie Taylor Greene. The two conservative lawmakers are said to be on the verge of a fistfight at “any moment.”


Speaking of fights, BlackRock is facing a wave of backlash as the firm considers life without its longtime CEO.


In today’s edition: 

But first, so much for a smooth exit.
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Larry Fink’s legacy looms

Larry Fink. BlackRock; Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider


CEO transitions are difficult under the best of circumstances. 

Now consider it’s the company’s first and only CEO. That person is also one of the most well-known executives in his field. And make sure there isn’t a clear successor in the wings. Now stick the firm in the midst of a political debate.

That, in a nutshell, is the situation at BlackRock with Larry Fink.

Fink, who cofounded the firm in 1988 and grew it into the world’s largest asset manager, has teased retirement amid a critical juncture for his $9.4 trillion firm.

BlackRock’s support of environmental, social, and governance investing, a strategy championed by Fink, has made the firm and its chief executive a main target for Republicans.

The backlash both Fink and BlackRock are facing from the GOP is threatening to complicate succession planning at the massive firm and damage the legacy of its long-serving CEO, Insider’s Rebecca Ungarino writes.

Taking over the reins at BlackRock in Fink’s wake is already a monumental task. But now one must do so knowing any decision made regarding the firm’s ESG strategy will be analyzed with a fine-tooth comb.

Fink, for his part, eased up on sustainability talk in his most recent annual letter. But the shift has only muddied the waters regarding how vocal BlackRock plans to be with its ESG efforts going forward. And an exodus of communication professionals from the firm hasn’t helped matters.

In broad strokes, BlackRock’s new CEO could:

  • Double down on sustainable investing, and risk alienating more Republicans, which could lead to more divestments.
  • Change course and divest from it, and open the firm up to criticism from ESG advocates of being weak and succumbing to GOP demands.
  • Do nothing, and continue to piss off both sides with the added bonus of being viewed as a leader who can’t make their mark on the firm.
One recent example of succession planning at a large finance firm could serve as a bit of a peek into BlackRock’s future.

Ray Dalio’s seat was still warm at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, when his successor, Nir Bar Dea, already started making changes to the firm’s famous culture.


Elon’s AI, Actors’ strike, & HSA benefits

Tyler Le/Insider


  • Silicon Valley is plagued with predatory pricing, and it’s the VCs’ fault. Subsidizing the price of a product until you’ve crushed the competition has been a favorite business model in Big Tech despite being technically illegal, a new paper argues. The key to the rise of predatory pricing in tech is funding from venture capitalists, according to two law-school professors.
  • Elon Musk wants his AI company to figure out science. He revealed that xAI would be meant to help tackle unknown scientific questions about topics like aliens and dark matter. Musk is competing with heavyweights like OpenAI and Google in the AI race. But he claims xAI is more trustworthy than both of them.
  • Actors are striking for the first time in over 40 years. They’re withholding their labor to get better pay and fight the threat of AI. Stars like Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Rami Malek have all thrown their weight behind the collective action.
  • US home prices are nearly at record highs. New data showed that the median sale price for a home in June was $426,056. Meanwhile, the number of US homes is at an all-time low — just over 1 million homes are on the market.
  • Twitter rivals have the same, glitchy issues. Elon Musk has been criticized for many problems with the website ever since he took over and cut staff. But rivals are facing the same issues. Mark Zuckerberg’s Threads, for example, is facing a spam problem, so Threads is limiting the number of posts users can see (just like Twitter).
  • Millionaire says his health savings account is his favorite wealth-building tool. He explained that the account offered a triple threat of benefits. You contribute pretax dollars. Contributions and earnings grow tax-free over time. Plus, you can withdraw money tax-free for qualified medical expenses.
  • Top strategies to land your dream clients and brand partnerships. Insider spoke with freelancers and business owners about how they cold-pitch their services and secure deals with brands — and they shared the exact email templates they use. They suggested personalizing the first line, explaining how the creator can benefit the brand, and congratulating the company about any recent news.

Yellen, China, & BlackRock

  • Janet Yellen is calling her shot: No recession. The treasury secretary said she’s confident the US economy would avoid an elongated downturn thanks to a strong jobs market and cooling inflation. Meanwhile, the shrinkage of bond-yield spreads is another signal it’s OK to be optimistic about the economy.
  • But things aren’t looking as good in China. The country’s GDP growth of 6.3% in the second quarter fell massively short of expectations. But any type of major stimulus package still seems a long way off. One key issue: China’s property market continues to drop, falling 28.1% in June compared with a year ago.
  • A BlackRock executive thinks the Fed needs to reevaluate its goals. Rick Rieder, the firm’s chief investment officer of global fixed income, said the Fed’s inflation target of 2% “doesn’t make any sense” and chasing it could force “millions of people out of work.”

Ukraine, new iPhone, & Tesla Cybertruck


Wimbledon looks

Ncuti Gatwa, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas, and Kate Middleton. Dave Benett/Getty Images. Neil Mockford/GC Images/Getty Images, Karwai Tang/Getty Images

The best outfits from Wimbledon stars. Kate Middleton, Priyanka Chopra, Ariana Grande, and other major names stylishly attended the tournament.

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