An article on Larry Fink, the CEO of the money management firm Blackrock (which I had never heard of before reading this article) and how their management of $12 trillion in taxpayer cash makes them the single biggest yet also most shadowy financial entity in the country:
Though few Americans know his name, Larry Fink may be the most powerful man in the post-bailout economy. His giant BlackRock money-management firm controls or monitors more than $12 trillion worldwide — including the balance sheets of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the toxic A.I.G. and Bear Stearns assets taken over by the U.S. government last year.
A bit later in the article, the company is described as the “Blackwater” of the financial world:
BlackRock’s enormous and growing influence and its sheer size — too big to fail, some say — has begun to raise questions. “It’s like the Blackwater of finance, almost a shadow government,” says one senior bank executive.
Probably the most interesting part of the article, is buried about ¾ of the way through where VF describes the vast and extremely sophisticated computer system that Blackrock is using to monitor the financial markets: If the software can sift through $1.2 trillion in mortgage securities and provide “daily risk assessment reports” it can just as easily be tuned to sift through the phone calls, emails, and financial transactions of states, cities, neighborhoods, friend networks, even down to individual citizens and provide “risk assessment reports” on them as well. It could be used to monitor who might become a “terrorist” in the conventional sense of the word but more importantly who might be on the path to pulling their money out of the markets or downsizing their lifestyle.
It could also be used (I suspect it is) to monitor the net effect of certain websites or forums. To what degree, for instance, is a site like LATOC affecting the financial system or a particular entity’s portfolio? In order to find out, all you’d need is the ip addresses of the 12,000 or so people who visit each day plus access to their financial transactions/portfolios to start to see some pattens.
“IP addresses are easy enough to get but how would they get my financial information?”, you might ask. That’s easy, they probably already have it. Think of all those times you hear or read news reports that “Bloated Banking Entity of the Day just lost the passwords of 600,000 customers” or “State University System of the Month lost a laptop that contained within it all the social security numbers of 50,000 alumini.” My guess is all those “losses” of information get sold on the blackmarket to financial and/or intelligence entities who use the information to update their computer monitoring systems.
Armed with that information, you could aks the compute any number of questions:
“Are people who read LATOC more likely than others to buy gold within 6 months of first visiting the site?” (My guess is yes)
“How much gold are they buying?”
“Are they likely to sell their homes, mov to the country, to the city, drive less, buy less crap, pull out of the facebook/twitter industrial complex?”
“Just how much money has the site helped suck out of the system?”
A computer sophisticated enough and with access to enough information could come up with the answers to these questions (and orders of magnitude more useful information) pretty quickly. In order to be able to truly appreciate the power (and sinister potential) of computer programs this powerful, I’d recommend reading through a couple articles. First, from Mike Ruppert:
… what would distinguish BlackRock was its state- of-the-art system for evaluating and managing risk. With 5,000 computers running 24 hours a day, overseen by a team of engineers, mathematicians, analysts, and programmers, BlackRock’s “computer farm” could monitor millions of daily trades and scrutinize every single security in its clients’ investment portfolios to see how they would be affected by even the most minor changes in the economy. Churning through 200 million calculations each week, its computers could simulate every imaginable shift in interest rates, every conceivable change in the financial markets, and stress-test the performance of hundreds of thousands of securities in numerous global-crisis scenarios.