Sure, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and other Wall Street investment firms are insidiously entrenched in the corridors of Washington power.
But at least we got rid of some of the obscure Bush Administration officials seemingly hellbent on making the government more beholden to the financial services industry. Like Charlie Millard.
Millard is the former chief of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federal agency that insures a portion of the retirememt funds of 44 million Americans against the event that their companies file for bankruptcy.
The PBGC controls a $50 billion dollar fund — it used to be $64 billion, but it’s been a rough year –with strict guidelines dictating a seriously conservative investment strategy.
But when Millard came to the agency in May 2007 he immediately set about changing the guidelines so he could rotate those funds into what he called the North Star strategy. The new strategy was considerably lighter on bonds and heavier on stocks, private equity, real estate — and heavier on the attendant Wall Street advisers and asset managers to whom the PBGC would outsource the execution of the fancy new strategy.
Two months ago the Office of the Inspector General released a scathing report about some details of Millard’s phone and email records as he scrambled to reallocate all this money. Today the New York Times posted the actual text of some of the emails he traded with BlackRock, Goldman and JP Morgan executives — in addition to some they traded amongst themselves.
There were more meetings through the winter and spring of 2008, as Mr. Millard prepared his plans. That April, there was a charity dinner at Chelsea Piers, along the Hudson River. One BlackRock executive wrote to another, “Try to get Larry seated next to Charles Millard,” referring to Mr. Fink, the company’s chairman and chief.
After the dinner, Mr. Millard wrote to Mr. Fink, “A pleasure meeting you. No need to respond. I will follow up with you briefly in future re our investment policy and with your team re other specifics.”
The e-mail messages show that Mr. Mullane, a managing director at BlackRock, understood that the firm needed to move quickly, before the presidential election.
“He is a lame duck political appointee as soon as the November election occurs,” he wrote to one BlackRock colleague last June, as the bidding was about to start. “When the new man comes in at P.B.G.C., all bets are off for us.”
We wouldn’t go that far: BlackRock was still getting government business months after the inauguration. We have heard Millard is still looking for work.
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