Gary Cohn: An­other Gold­man banker in Trump’s in­ner cir­cle

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Gary Cohn, tapped Mon­day by Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump to head the White House’s Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil, is sec­ond-in­com­mand at in­vest­ment bank­ing gi­ant Gold­man Sachs, which he once hoped to lead. Cohn, 56, has worked on Wall Street since the 1990s and is one the firm’s best known pub­lic faces. He makes fre­quent tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances to talk about the health of fi­nan­cial mar­kets and the global econ­omy.

Be­fore join­ing the Wall Street pow­er­house, the mar­ried fa­ther of three-who comes from a hum­ble fam­ily back­ground and strug­gled with dys­lexia in his youth-started out sell­ing win­dows and worked in the steel in­dus­try. At Gold­man, Cohn was in charge of some of the firm’s cash-cow busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the di­vi­sion over­see­ing fixed in­come, cur­rency and com­modi­ties. As pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer, he has been heir ap­par­ent to CEO Lloyd Blank­fein since 2006.

But af­ter it be­came clear that Blank­fein, who an­nounced early this year he was “prob­a­bly cured” of lym­phoma, would not hand over the reins any time soon, se­nior fig­ures in the bank be­gan to con­sider Cohn’s fu­ture there, ac­cord­ing to a per­son with knowl­edge of the mat­ter.

A Gold­man gov­ern­ment?

Cohn’s se­lec­tion for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will re­quire a new line of suc­ces­sion within Gold­man, and the bank could take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote a new gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers. It doubt­less also will fuel crit­i­cism that Trump’s in­ner cir­cle is packed with Gold­man alumni, with Cohn be­ing the fourth to join.

Trump al­ready had picked Steven Mnuchin to lead the Trea­sury Depart­ment, and Steve Ban­non as chief strate­gist in the White House, while An­thony Scara­mucci is a mem­ber of Trump’s tran­si­tion team, all for­mer Gold­man bankers. The nom­i­na­tions fly in the face of Trump’s at­ti­tude to­ward the bank on the cam­paign trail, when he at­tacked ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ties to it.

In the cam­paign’s clos­ing mo­ments, Trump went as far as to use Blank­fein’s face in a TV spot ac­cus­ing elites of il­le­git­i­mately hold­ing the “levers of power,” draw­ing out­raged ac­cu­sa­tions of an­tiSemitism.

But the bank’s shares have soared more than 32 per­cent since Trump’s shock tri­umph at the polls last month over Clin­ton-a $24 bil­lion cap­i­tal gain in about a month. Two for­mer Trea­sury sec­re­taries were Gold­man alumni: Robert Ru­bin and Henry Paul­son, un­der the Bill Clin­ton and Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tions.

Top eco­nomic ad­vi­sor

Clin­ton es­tab­lished the Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil in 1993 to ad­vise the pres­i­dent on do­mes­tic and global eco­nomic pol­icy, and named Ru­bin to head the body. Larry Sum­mers and Larry Lindsey were sub­se­quent lead­ers.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s NEC di­rec­tor is Jef­frey Zients. Trump has promised tax cuts, boosts to in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing and the re­turn of in­dus­trial jobs to the United States, all while dis­man­tling the post-cri­sis fi­nan­cial re­forms of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and call­ing US trade agree­ments into se­ri­ous doubt. He said Cohn will be his key ad­vi­sor.

“As my top eco­nomic ad­vi­sor, Gary Cohn is go­ing to put his tal­ents as a highly suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man to work for the Amer­i­can peo­ple,” Trump said in a state­ment. “He will help craft eco­nomic poli­cies that will grow wages for our work­ers, stop the ex­o­dus of jobs over­seas and cre­ate many great new op­por­tu­ni­ties for Amer­i­cans who have been strug­gling.”

Cohn, who dur­ing the cam­paign had been a sup­porter of Florida Se­na­tor Marco Rubio, but who also con­trib­uted to Democrats in the past, said he was hon­ored to be cho­sen.

“I share Pres­i­dent-elect Trump’s vi­sion of mak­ing sure ev­ery Amer­i­can worker has a se­cure place in a thriv­ing econ­omy, and we will be com­pletely com­mit­ted to build­ing a na­tion of strength, growth and pros­per­ity,” Cohn said. —AFP

NEW YORK: This file photo taken on Oc­to­ber 5, 2016 shows Pres­i­dent of Gold­man Sachs, Gary Cohn, and Lisa Pe­varoff at­tend­ing the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foun­da­tion’s 10 year an­niver­sary at the Garage in New York. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump on Mon­day named Gary Cohn to lead the White House’s Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil. —AFP

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