02 February 2010

Is Blackrock Buying the US Equity Market?

One might conjecture from this enormous number of 13G filings noted below that Blackrock has taken what appears to be new 5+% stakes in over 1,800 US equities.

"We counted over 1,800 13Gs that Blackrock dumped on Friday...For those less familiar with the 13G...it’s a requirement when ownership exceeds 5% of the outstanding shares...these filings represented new positions for Blackrock since we only counted 11 amended 13Gs, which in itself seems very surprising, given the long list of stocks."

Holy guacamole!

Perhaps this is an error, or a misreading of the data. Someone 'fat-fingered' the Edgar filing button.

We are incredulous that a private investment firm, no matter how well connected, could have taken 5+% positions in most of the NY listed equity market so quickly. Driven madly bullish, with enormously deep pockets, and an abiding faith in their ability to defy the odds? Facilitating the hostile takeover of the rest of US real economy by a cabal of bonus taking Bonapartes? Starting a new Blackrock 1800 index fund from the bottom up, build it and they will come? LOL

Certainly the SEC will inquire as to their intentions, which is the purpose of such filings, and an explanation to the investment public will be forthcoming.

We suggested the other day that Blackrock and the NY Fed might turn out to be Obama's Halliburton and KBR - private contractors fulfilling administration policy. NY Fed Conspired to Hide Details of AIG There are repeated rumours of an invisible hand in several markets, as an arm of Washington. But this is a bit much.

The Robert Rubin Rule of Financial Crisis Management was stated in the mid 1990's. It held that buying SP futures to prop the stock market was cheaper than trying to clean up the mess after a stock market panic. But this was not about actually buying the market; it was about using price to manage perception, in the manner recommended by Edward Bernays.

The problem with this doctrine, of course, is that it requires larger and more pervasive interventions to maintain the illusion, unless the underlying conditions that set the primary market trend are changed. Rather like creating a short term euphoria by treating a patient with pain killers, to the point of harmful addiction, without addressing the underlying condition.

But buying over 5 percent positions in 1,800 listed equities? That is not your father's market rigging, and certainly a step above buying the SP futures contracts. Clumsy and heavy-handed to say the least.

Skeptically waiting, we are keen to see the clarification, legitimate investment or data error. Regardless of the punter, it's a hell of a bet if that is what it is.

Postscript with tongue still in cheek: As I suspected they are rebranding their ETF's purchased from Barclay's. Impressive amount of stock behind it. Still a hell of a bet, just risk spread more widely. They are just taking the management fees, the public is putting up the capital. LOL

Blackrock’s massive Friday afternoon dump…
By Michelle Leder
February 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

As we monitored filings on Friday afternoon, we wondered why EDGAR seemed unusually sluggish. But it wasn’t until late Friday that we realized why: Blackrock (BLK) had done a massive document dump on Friday afternoon of 13G filings related to its acquisition of Barclay’s Global Investors.

We counted over 1,800 13Gs that Blackrock dumped on Friday, which explains why EDGAR might have been a tad bit pokey. The stream started at just after 2 p.m. est and didn’t let up until just after 4:30, when the last one, which reported a 6.5% stake in Vodafone came in.

For those less familiar with the 13G, since we don’t often write about these filings, it’s a requirement when ownership exceeds 5% of the outstanding shares. With few rare exceptions, these filings represented new positions for Blackrock since we only counted 11 amended 13Gs, which in itself seems very surprising, given the long list of stocks.

Though it’s hard to tell from the SEC’s EDGAR database the names of those 1,800-plus companies without clicking on each filing (and who has time to click on 1,800 of them?), it’s a bit easier in 10KWizard (now known as Morningstar Document Research). And, indeed, there’s a lot of household names on the list including some big names in tech like Apple (AAPL), AOL (AOL), Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO) — several of which Dow Jones picked up on on Friday afternoon. But there’s a lot more names on the list too, including United Technologies (UTX), Toll Brothers (TOL), and even footnoted frequent flyer Martha Stewart Omnimedia (MSO) where Blackrock disclosed a stake of just over 7%.

Actually, a far more interesting project might be trying to figure out who wasn’t on the list since with 1,800-plus filings, just about any company over even a relatively modest market cap — Martha Stewart’s is currently around $240 million — seems to have made the cut.