Trump Seeks Advice From Fink, Wall Street as Outbreak Worsens

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump is consulting on coronavirus aid for companies with top Wall Street executives including BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink, who met with the president last week, according to people familiar with the matter.

“People like Larry Fink we’re talking to, that’s BlackRock -- we have the smartest people, and they all want to do it,” Trump told reporters Friday at the White House. “This, to them, they love this country, they all want to do it, so we’re speaking to people like that and they’ll be able to work it out.”

Trump made the comments about assistance from Wall Street after describing the financial peril faced by airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc.

Fink’s visit to the White House wasn’t publicly announced and Trump didn’t mention that they had spoken before Friday. BlackRock didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Fink said Thursday in a conference call with clients that he’d been in talks with the White House in recent days, without elaborating.

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve tapped BlackRock to shepherd several debt-buying programs on behalf of the U.S. central bank as it works to revive the economy.

The president signed the largest stimulus package in U.S. history on Friday, a $2 trillion bill intended to rescue the coronavirus-battered economy.

The measure provides a massive injection of loans, tax breaks and direct payments to large corporations, small businesses and individuals whose revenue and income have plummeted under “social distancing” restrictions meant to slow the virus’ spread.

The U.S. has become the worldwide epicenter of the pandemic, with more than 100,000 people infected as of Friday, surpassing China.

Trump has raised the prospect of easing coronavirus restrictions on most people in the U.S. by the Easter holiday after a record 3.3 million Americans had filed for unemployment.

Federal officials are considering a plan to rank U.S. counties as low, medium, or high risk, with the hope of providing state and local officials corresponding guidance for what distancing measures they should implement -- and which can be lifted and where.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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