Prolonged Trade War Could Set Off a Market Slide, BlackRock’s Fink Says

Posted July 16, 2018 1:01 p.m. EDT

The chief executive of BlackRock, Laurence D. Fink, warned Monday that a sustained trade war could cause markets to tumble.

During a discussion of BlackRock’s second-quarter earnings, Fink said that investors in both Europe and the United States were either withdrawing money from the markets or choosing not to increase their positions substantially.

“If we do see these tariff increases come to pass and if they are sustained over time, I think it would be proper to recalibrate forecasts of GDP and earnings growth,” he said. “And then the markets would probably fall.”

Fink pointed out that the tax cuts enacted last year could spur increased economic growth and compensate for the tariffs’ negative impact.

“We have one of the fastest-growing economies in recent years and really strong earnings growth,” he said.

BlackRock, the largest fund manager in the world, now oversees $6.3 trillion, up 11 percent from a year ago.

But investor uncertainty has begun to slow the flow of money into BlackRock’s funds, especially its exchange-traded funds, a key driver of recent growth.

BlackRock reported $20 billion in new money coming in for the quarter, down from the $103 billion the company took in during the same period last year. There were significant outflows in funds that track emerging markets, which were popular with investors in 2017.

Net earnings for the quarter that ended in June grew 26 percent compared with the same period last year, helped in part by the lower corporate tax rate.