In the latest echo from the Lehman crisis response, on Tuesday the Fed announced that, just as it did in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, it has hired the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock to manage several of the Fed’s brand new – and quite – massive debt-buying programs as the Fed scrambles to keep the US asset bubble, which it was inflating for the past decade, from bursting and obliterating the highly financialized US economy.
The Fed said that BlackRock will serve as an investment adviser and manage assets for three separate programs recently launched by the central bank: those include the central bank’s plans to buy newly issued credit from large corporations as well as existing investment-grade bonds and credit ETFs.
BlackRock will also be involved in purchasing agency commercial mortgage-backed securities on behalf of the New York Fed, to assist the central bank in its market stimulus and artificial asset price preservation levels. The activities will be overseen by BlackRock’s Financial Markets Advisory business, a unit that consults with regulators and other government entities.
It is unclear yet if BlackRock will publish a full breakdown of the securities the Fed buys as part of its programs to keep the market “stable.” It is also unclear how much BlackRock will be paid, and on what basis.
With the Fed now effectively nationalizing big parts of the US capital markets, banks have started asking what is the point of even having a “market” if the Fed is backstopping everything.
The Fed has taken an unprecedented, staggering number of steps in the past three weeks to help support the economy and markets functionality. In a surprise announcement on Monday, Powell said the Fed would buy unlimited amounts of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to preserve the viability of the bond market, even though judging by the cascade of failing m-REITs, it may need to do much more, which is stunning considering that in just the 8 days since the Fed officially resumed QE it has purchased over $1 trillion in TSYs ($687BN) and MBS ($330BN). It also set up programs to ensure credit flows to corporations as well as state and local governments.
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