Wall Street’s $6 trillion man is bullish, but…
Larry Fink, the CEO of Wall Street investing giant BlackRock, is very confident about the market. And with good reason.
BlackRock, which manages nearly $ 6 trillion in assets — including the popular iShares series of exchange-traded funds — reported profits and revenue that topped analysts’ forecasts.
Shares rose 1% on the news to an all-time high. BlackRock (BLK) stock is now up nearly 25% this year. This is a good sign for other big financial firms. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C) report earnings Thursday while Bank of America (BAC) is on tap Friday.
Demand for passively managed investments, like index-based ETFs run by iShares as well as mutual funds tied to indexes as opposed to active funds where teams pick and choose individual stocks, is booming.
BlackRock reported that index ETFs and passive funds accounted for 65% of the firm’s total assets under management in the third quarter, compared to just 28% for the actively run mutual funds.
But interestingly, Fink seemed to suggest that the good news on Wall Street was more about the rest of the world than it was America.
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Fink listed all the positives about the market in opening remarks of his conference call with investors. And the U.S. was notably absent.
“Over the past year, the market environment has improved considerably. We’ve seen greater political stability in Europe. China is continuing to show economic stray. And after a long period of stagnation, we’re seeing consistent growth in Japan,” Fink said.
“Overall, the world has become much more resilient,” he added, before going on to say that there is a lot of cash that could be invested in stocks that is “sitting on the sidelines” instead.
Still, the omission of the U.S. from the laundry list of all the good things going for the stock market — which continues to hit record highs — seems telling.
After all, some investing experts are starting to suggest that stocks in Europe, Japan and emerging markets like China, Russia and Brazil are starting to look more attractive than shares of U.S. companies.
Part of that has to do with growing concerns that President Trump won’t be able to get any significant laws passed to boost the economy due to fights with Democrats and members of his own party.
Trump’s relationship with business leaders has soured too, especially as he has frequently attacked the heads of healthcare companies, tech firms and even defense contractors on Twitter.
Related: America’s top CEOs always had an awkward relationship with Trump
Fink was one of several all-star CEOs named to President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum shortly after he won the election.
Trump praised Fink earlier this year for the firm’s investing prowess. “Larry did a great job for me. He managed a lot of my money. I have to tell you, he got me great returns,” Trump said.
But Fink has largely donated to Democrats in recent presidential elections and was thought to be a potential Treasury Secretary contender if Hillary Clinton had won.
Fink has also been critical of some of Trump’s policies.
He said in a memo to employees after the controversial travel ban on predominantly Muslim nations that the need to fight terrorism and promote security “needs to be done with respect for due process, individual rights and the principle of inclusion.”
Fink also said in June that he disagreed with Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate change agreement. But Fink, unlike other CEOs such as Tesla’s (TSLA) Elon Musk and Disney’s (DIS) Bob Iger, said at the time he would remain on Trump’s advisory council.
But that council was disbanded in the wake of the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August after Trump originally placed blame on “both sides” — a comment that caused many executives to express their disapproval of the president.
BlackRock was not immediately available for comment about whether or not the outlook for the U.S. was intentionally left out by Fink during Wednesday’s earnings call.
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