Matthew GoldsteinYou have to marvel at the seemingly Midas touch of Larry Fink.

The BlackRock Inc. chief executive avoided taking over the helm of Merrill Lynch -- something John Thain probably wishes he had done. Fink's firm emerged from the financial crisis as the Federal Reserve's favorite private money manager, with BlackRock getting the lion's share of the government's work for managing troubled assets. And the $13 billion deal Fink just reached with Barclays Global Investors has turned BlackRock into the outright titan of the asset management world with $2.7 trillion in other peoples' money under management.