BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “has put an end to the globalization we have experienced over the last three decades.”
The head of the world’s biggest asset manager sent a letter to shareholders on Thursday warning of dark days ahead for the world economy, signaling that inflation is of particular concern.
Fink predicted that the war will force countries to re-evaluate the extent to which their economies are interdependent on others. It could also spur economies to develop greater reliance on local manufacturing, according to Fink.
“Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and its subsequent decoupling from the global economy is going to prompt companies and governments worldwide to re-evaluate their dependencies and re-analyze their manufacturing and assembly footprints — something that Covid had already spurred many to start doing,” he wrote.
Howard Marks, the billionaire co-founder and co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management, wrote a letter to investors expressing similar sentiments, warning that inflation is likely to become a long-term consequence.
“The recognition of these negative aspects of globalization has now caused the pendulum to swing back to local sourcing,” Marks wrote. “Rather than the cheapest, easiest and greenest sources, there’ll probably be more of a premium put on the safest and surest.”
The United States and the European Union, who had been experiencing economic hardship well before the invasion, imposed crippling sanctions on Russia, which have exacerbated rising energy prices and roiled markets.
Fink said that the sanctions against Russia were tantamount to “economic war” on Moscow and said the firm will make efforts to anticipate just how the unfolding crisis will affect investors.
BlackRock’s portfolio includes assets worth a total of an estimated $10 trillion. Fink wrote in his letter that the company has suspended any purchase of Russian equities.
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken to countless stakeholders, including our clients and employees, who are all looking to understand what could be done to prevent capital from being deployed to Russia,” Fink said.
He said the Russian war in Ukraine marks a turning point in the decades since Moscow was brought into the world capital markets thanks to the rise of globalization.
“I remain a long-term believer in the benefits of globalization and the power of global capital markets,” Fink wrote. “Access to global capital enables companies to fund growth, countries to increase economic development, and more people to experience financial well-being.”
Fink lamented that the invasion was the latest manifestation of global turmoil that has seen more people embrace authoritarianism and political divisiveness.
“[The war in Ukraine] has left many communities and people feeling isolated and looking inward,” Fink wrote in his letter. “I believe this has exacerbated the polarization and extremist behavior we are seeing across society today.”
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