Great Days at BlackRock

The world's largest money manager runs more than 100 funds, 200 ETFs and the wealth of nations. What's next?

Just how much is $3.4 trillion? It is more than the gross domestic product of most nations, including France, the U.K. and Brazil. It is more than twice the size of the largest U.S. budget deficit on record (the one for the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2009). It dwarfs the sum of assets held by the U.S. Federal Reserve. And it is the amount managed by BlackRock.

If you think the name sounds only vaguely familiar, you're not alone. Less than a decade ago, BlackRock was a fairly obscure, mid-tier money manager with a wonky specialty: closed-end bond funds. But a few years and several gargantuan acquisitions later -- including its 2009 purchase of Barclays Global Investors, sponsor of the iShares line of exchange-traded funds -- BlackRock has become the world's largest money manager. The firm, based in New York City, runs more than 100 mutual funds, more than 200 ETFs, the federal government's retirement plan, several nations' sovereign-wealth funds and far, far too much else to list here.

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Elizabeth Leary
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Elizabeth Leary (née Ody) first joined Kiplinger in 2006 as a reporter, and has held various positions on staff and as a contributor in the years since. Her writing has also appeared in Barron's, BloombergBusinessweek, The Washington Post and other outlets.