Why’s the World’s Biggest Asset Manager Advising the ECB on the Health of EU Banks?

BlackRock is “a market power that no state can control anymore.”

The ECB’s latest biannual stress tests are almost over. For months legions of financial regulators have been poking around in the soft financial underbellies of the Eurozone’s 130 largest banks looking for signs of weakness. Presumably, the worst causes or symptoms of financial duress have been largely sidelined or ignored, just as happened in 2016 when Spain’s then-sixth largest bank, Banco Popular, passed muster just months before its collapse.

This year, the ECB has again called on the assistance of the world’s largest asset management fund, BlackRock, to conduct its health check of Europe’s banking sector. The stress tests are being spearheaded by the European Banking Authority (EBA), which tests the region’s systemic banks, while the ECB focuses its attention on smaller lenders, such as Banco Popular.

This is not the first time the ECB has turned to BlackRock for advisory support. In 2014, the central bank hired BlackRock Solutions, an advisory unit of BlackRock, to provide advice on the design and implementation of the central bank’s upcoming purchase of asset-backed securities. In other words, just before the ECB embarked on one of the biggest QE programs in world history, it sought the advice of the world’s largest asset manager – i.e. the company most invested in the assets it intended to buy

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