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jerryking : hank_paulson   5

BlackRock’s black box: the technology hub of modern finance
FEBRUARY 24 2020 | Financial Times | by Richard Henderson in New York and Owen Walker in London.

In the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, the US government turned to Larry Fink, founder of BlackRock, for help.

As the crisis deepened, Mr Fink spoke to Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary, in brief, urgent calls. He offered the Treasury and Federal Reserve a powerful tool to gauge risk in the assets at the centre of the havoc. The arrangement would net BlackRock tens of millions of dollars in government contracts, awarded largely without a tender process, put it at the forefront of the fintech revolution and cement Mr Fink’s standing at the intersection of politics and finance.

At the heart of this exchange was Aladdin, BlackRock’s vast technology platform. The system links investors to the markets, ensures portfolios hold the right assets and measures risk in the world’s stocks, bonds and derivatives, currencies and private equity.

Aladdin’s influence has surged since the financial crisis. Today, it acts as the central nervous system for many of the largest players in the investment management industry — and, for several huge non-financial companies........Vanguard State Street Global Advisors, the top half the top 10 insurers by assets, as well as Japan’s $1.5tn government pension fund, the world’s largest. Apple, Microsoft and Google’s parent firm, Alphabet — the three biggest US public companies — all rely on Aladdin to steward hundreds of billions of dollars in their corporate treasury investment portfolios.....Yet the true reach of Aladdin is unknown outside of BlackRock......Aladdin has fuelled BlackRock’s all-conquering rise by tightening its links with customers and diversifying its revenues. But the platform’s success has opened up new challenges. Competitors are fast developing rival platforms that are taking some of its business. The system’s scale — unparalleled for technology offered by a fund manager — has also created possible conflicts of interest. Most of all, its importance as a fintech hub has raised the prospect of a regulatory backlash.

The world’s most powerful risk management system threatens to become a liability for its owner.....Platforms like Aladdin are not covered by regulations, but as markets and investing become more reliant on technology the functions of these systems could play a role in future decisions whether or not to regulate...Aladdin’s sprawling influence has prompted fears that it, or BlackRock, could act as a chokepoint if either faced a shock — a cyber attack, a rogue line of code or a sudden crisis for the company — destabilising the financial system.....Although Aladdin does not tell asset managers what to buy or sell, the worry is that if a large enough portion of global assets respond to the warnings that Aladdin gives off, trillions of dollars will react to events — such as the outbreak of a pandemic or war in the Middle East — in the same way, causing dangerous *herding behaviour*......Aladdin creates the potential for “groupthink” .......Aladdin’s critical role within high-profile companies also makes it a prime target for cyber crime. .....Aladdin’s risk tools are designed to support, rather than replace, portfolio managers.....The scale of BlackRock’s dominance in both the investment industry and in providing its plumbing has led to potential conflicts of interest. As the world’s biggest asset manager, BlackRock is among the top shareholders of most listed companies globally, including many Aladdin clients.........Aladdin — which stands for asset, liability, debt and derivative investment network — began as a simple ledger for bond portfolios shortly after BlackRock was founded in 1988. As it grew, BlackRock extended its use for certain clients. The first was General Electric, which in 1994 was selling Kidder Peabody, the beleaguered brokerage, but was unsure how to price the assets on its balance sheet. A series of similar one-off arrangements eventually led BlackRock to offer Aladdin as a product in 2000.....Powerful trends have buffeted Aladdin’s rise. Investing has become more electronic and reliant on big data. As the tools that process the information have become more complex, investors, fund managers and insurers have turned to larger platforms such as Aladdin to replace multiple specialised systems.
Aladdin  analytics  asset_management  BlackRock  conflicts_of_interest  crisis  cyber_security  economic_downturn  financial_system  government_contracts  hackers  Hank_Paulson  herd_behaviour  institutional_investors  Laurence_Fink  one-time_events  origin_story  packaging  platforms  portfolio_management  regulators  risk-managment  rivalries  Second_Acts  systemic_risks  tools  trends  U.S._Federal_Reserve  U.S.Treasury_Department  Wall_Street 
4 weeks ago by jerryking
Opinion | The World-Shaking News That You’re Missing
Nov. 26, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman

** “Has China Won? by  Kishore Mahbubani

A new wall — a digital Berlin Wall — had begun to be erected between China and America. And the only thing left to be determined, a Chinese business executive remarked to me, “is how high this wall will be,” and which countries will choose to be on which side.

This new wall, separating a U.S.-led technology and trade zone from a Chinese-led one, will have implications as vast as the wall bisecting Berlin did. Because the peace, prosperity and accelerations in technology and globalization that have so benefited the world over the past 40 years were due, in part, to the interweaving of the U.S. and Chinese economies.

The messy, ad hoc decoupling of these two economies, driven by miscalculations by leaders on both sides, will surely disrupt those trends and the costs could be huge. We might want to talk about that.

Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson gave a speech here a year ago trying to kick-start that discussion. “For 40 years,” Paulson noted, “the U.S.-China relationship has been characterized by the integration of four things: goods, capital, technology and people. And over these 40 years, economic integration between the two countries was supposed to mitigate security competition. But an intellectually honest appraisal must now admit both that this hasn’t happened and that the reverse is taking place.” That reversal is happening for two reasons. First, because the U.S. is — rightly — no longer willing to accept China’s unfair trade practices. Second, because, now that China is a technology powerhouse — and technological products all have both economic and military applications........“after 40 years of integration, a surprising number of political and thought leaders on both sides advocate policies that could forcibly de-integrate the two countries across all four of these baskets.” the digital Berlin Wall took a big step up on May 17, when Trump blacklisted China’s Huawei.......Lots of Chinese tech companies are now thinking: We will never, ever, ever leave ourselves again in a situation where we are totally dependent on America for key components. Time to double down on making our own......similarly, U.S. manufacturers are thinking twice about building their next factory in China or solely depending on a supply chain from there.....this is the sound of two giant economies starting to decouple.....the State Department has been restricting visas for Chinese graduate students studying in sensitive fields — like aviation, robotics and advanced manufacturing ....
What to do?
Friedman is worried that by imposing more and more export and visa controls we will be cutting ourselves off from the access we need to the global investment pools, customers and collaborative scientists and engineers to maintain our technological lead.

I still believe that the most open systems win — they get all the signals of change first, they attract the most high-I.Q. risk-takers/innovators and they enrich and are enriched by the most global flows of talent, ideas and capital. That used to be us.....

China is our economic competitor, economic partner, source of talent and capital, geopolitical rival, collaborator and serial rule-breaker. It is not our enemy or our friend.

The only effective way to manage a relationship this complex is:
1) with an all-of-government approach. You can’t have the Justice Department doing one thing, the Pentagon another, the Treasury another, the trade negotiators another, the State Department another and the president tweeting another. And
2), we need as many Pacific and European allies as possible so it’s “The Whole World Versus China”
blacklists  books  China  China_rising  co-ordinated_approaches  decoupling  Donald_Trump  dual-use  economic_disengagement  economic_integration  espionage  future  Hank_Paulson  Huawei  miscalculations  new_tech_Cold_War  open_borders  security_&_intelligence  seismic_shifts  self-sufficiency  signals  students  supply_chains  technology  Tom_Friedman  undermining_of_trust  U.S.-China_relations  visa_students  walled_gardens  Xi_Jinping 
november 2019 by jerryking
The man with the key to China: Barrick Gold’s quest to open new doors - The Globe and Mail
RACHELLE YOUNGLAI - MINING REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Dec. 06 2013

John Thorton is a man who “loves flawless execution” and prefers to work behind the scenes.

When Goldman won the contract to take some of China’s government-controlled telecom services public in 1998, it stemmed from Mr. Thornton’s work.

In the mid-1990s, Mr. Thornton got wind that the vice-premier at the time, Zhu Rongji, wanted to reform some of the country’s state-owned telecoms.

Mr. Thornton, who had taken Britain’s Vodafone public in the late-1980s, arranged for a meeting with the number 2 banker at the newly formed state-owned Chinese investment bank, a Chinese national who did not speak English.

Through a translator late at night in Beijing, Mr. Thornton said: “Here’s the real situation, you call yourself a banker and yet you know nothing about banking. I am in charge of Goldman Sachs Asia and China and I know nothing about any one of those. So we have a perfect marriage here. You’re going to teach me China and I am going to teach you banking and I am going to make you look like a hero in front of Zhu Rongji and everyone else who is important to you. And I don’t need any visibility, credit, anything. All I want to do is understand China out of this whole process.”

Mr. Thornton stressed his experience with Vodafone and the Chinese banker took Mr. Thornton’s request to Wang Qishan, then the head of China Construction Bank (one of China’s four biggest banks) and a protege of Mr. Zhu. Mr. Wang then spoke to Mr. Zhu and Goldman made its foray into China.

Mr. Thornton, Mr. Evans and former U.S. treasury secretary and Goldman chief executive Hank Paulson met Mr. Zhu in Beijing and Goldman got the deal.
Hank_Paulson  mining  Barrick  Goldman_Sachs  boards_&_directors_&_governance  China  relationships  dealmakers  optics  protégés 
december 2014 by jerryking

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