August 6, 2021

Top U.S. Officials Consulted With BlackRock as Markets Melted Down

Emails indicate that Mr. Powell spoke with Mr. Fink on March 23, hours after the Fed announced its corporate bond program.

“Larry Fink is available to speak today regarding the project you will be working on together,” an email from Mr. Fink’s assistant directly to Mr. Powell said. “Please let us know if there is a convenient time for you.”

“Now is good,” Mr. Powell replied.

The call does not appear on the Fed chair’s official schedule from that March. Those calendars generally track scheduled events, and may have missed meetings in early 2020 when staff members were frantically working on the market rescue and the Fed was shifting to work from home, a central bank spokesman said.

Mr. Powell’s calendars did show that he talked to Mr. Fink in March, April and May, and he has previously answered questions about those discussions.

“I can’t recall exactly what those conversations were, but they would have been about what he is seeing in the markets and things like that, to generally exchanging information,” Mr. Powell said at a July news conference, adding that it wasn’t “very many” conversations. “He’s typically trying to make sure that we are getting good service from the company that he founded and leads.”

BlackRock’s connections to Washington are not new. It was a critical player in the 2008 crisis response, when the New York Fed retained the firm’s advisory arm to manage the mortgage assets of the insurance giant American International Group and Bear Stearns.

Several former BlackRock employees have been named to top roles in President Biden’s administration, including Brian Deese, who heads the White House National Economic Council, and Wally Adeyemo, who was Mr. Fink’s chief of staff and is now the No. 2 official at the Treasury.

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