BlackRock Gains Clout in Washington as Biden Builds His Team

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One has been tapped to head the U.S. National Economic Council, the other as No. 2 at the Treasury Department. And both have one big thing in common: BlackRock Inc.

As President-elect Joe Biden assembles his economic team, his choice of two men who’ve worked in BlackRock’s senior ranks -- Brian Deese for NEC and Adewale Adeyemo as deputy Treasury secretary -- cements the giant investment firm’s position as one of Wall Street’s major gateways to the corridors of power in Washington. Deese oversees sustainable investing at BlackRock, while Adeyemo is a former senior adviser and interim chief of staff to Chief Executive Larry Fink.

BlackRock Gains Clout in Washington as Biden Builds His Team

BlackRock’s role as a hotbed of former and future policymakers -- a position once held so firmly by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that that bank was nicknamed “Government Sachs” -- underscores the asset manager’s clout, capping its rise from a respected bond shop to one of the major players in American business over its 32-year history.

BlackRock, which oversees more than $7.8 trillion in assets, is the largest money manager, and one of the most influential. It’s the global leader in low-cost exchange-traded funds, which upended active mutual funds and revolutionized investing.

The firm’s size also put it at the forefront of efforts to stabilize the U.S. economy this year. The Federal Reserve enlisted BlackRock in March to take charge of three bond-buying programs after the Covid-19 pandemic-induced selloff.

In recent years, the New York-based firm hired more than a dozen alumni of Barack Obama’s administration, including his national security adviser, senior adviser for climate policy, a former Federal Reserve vice chairman he appointed, and numerous other economists from the White House, Treasury and Fed. With Biden readying a team for his own presidency, some of those individuals are expected to head back into politics.

BlackRock Gains Clout in Washington as Biden Builds His Team

A representative for BlackRock declined to comment.

Other former Obama officials at BlackRock include:

  • Thomas Donilon, chairman of the BlackRock Investment Institute: former national security adviser to Obama. He turned down Biden’s proposal to lead the CIA, the New York Times reported on Nov. 29, citing an unidentified person familiar.
  • Mike Pyle, global chief investment strategist: former special assistant to Obama for economic policy
  • Stanley Fischer, senior adviser: former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve from 2014-2017
  • Cheryl Mills, board member: chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Counselor to the U.S. Department of State from 2009-2013
  • Meaghan Muldoon, global head of environmental, social and governance integration: former fiscal and economic policy adviser in Obama administration

And Fink was considered a potential candidate for Treasury secretary after Timothy Geithner and again under a potential Hillary Clinton administration. Earlier this year Fink told his senior leadership team he wouldn’t be heading for a job in Washington and would remain at the company, at a time when other front-runners were emerging for the position.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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