Trump’s campaign was characterised by bitter spats and sharp words aimed at the so-called “political and global establishment” – that nexus of links between politics, banks, finance, capital, and that elusive elite who is brame for promoting delocalization and the rise of foreign labour in the US, thus dealing a blow to the States’ productive processes (those very swinging States that later voted Trump).
Once Upon Trump’s Promises…
In his rallies, Trump has often touched on finance’s unreliability with the famous motto “Drain the swamp” (from the finance tycoon crocodiles) – one of his most effective commercials pegged Wall Street, finance, and politics as the culprits of the current industrial and economic crisis. In the video, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs (together with billionaire George Soros and Federal Reserve Presidente Yanet Yellen) talks at the Clinton Global Initiative, the annual meeting promoted by the Clinton Foundation in which Nobel prizes, showbiz, ONG, journalists and philantropists all come together to tackle world issues.
The president elect was shrewd enough to present himself as the only true alternative to the ruling elite – to quote Occupy Wall Street, the 1% – and as the champion of the forgotten 99%.
The Trump Administration: First Move and Contradictions
The formation of the new government has crushed the hopes of those who wanted to see a clear disconnect between the before- and after-Trump eras. Goldman Sachs’s philosophy seems central to Trump’s proposed policies and the new US seems pretty similar to the recent past (Blli Clinton’s golden years deregulation, if not a return to Reagan’s deep roots).
But who are these “golden boys” who got their chops through Goldman Sachs and will soon assume the lead of US economy? We are going to see how the new conservative government will be formed through the people who will take up their posts.
Goldman Sachs (New York)
The White House and Goldman Sachs: A Love Story
First, a short history lesson. The National Economic Council, that branch of the government tasked with coordinating and advising on economic matters, was founded on Jan. 25th, 1993, by Bill Clinton, who appointed Goldman Sachs member Robert E. Rubin, who later made Treasurer. Stephen Friedman, Bush’s nominee, was also a Goldman Sachs person, as was Treasurer Henry Paulson (he was the former CEO).
Even the Obama years, although marked by the Dodd-Frank Act and its reforms of Wall Streets protecting consumers and the US economic system from those very same speculations that had led to the subprime crisis, did not interrupt the links between Goldman Sachs and politics: at least two important people in Obama’s entourage are linked to GS – Rahm Emanuel, Head of Staff, and Gregory Craig, councilor.
But it’s Donald Trump that has made Goldman Sachs a pillar of US politics: Gary D. Cohn, VP (whose stocks in GS amount to 200 million dollars), a Democrat and a fundraiser of Democrats (and also personal friend of Blankfein) is now Director of the National Economic Council; and Stephen K. Bannon, far right ideologists and founder of ultra-radicalised website Breitbart News, now Chief Strategist, has also ties to Goldman Sachs. But it is Steven Mnuchin, freshly minted Treasurer, that we will examine now.
Mnuchin and Goldman Sachs: A Family Affair
Steven’s father, Robert Mnuchin, worked 33 years in Goldman Sachs, while brother Alan was VP. Steven started his career in 1985 after graduating Yale, side by side with Mike Mortara, mortgage trader for Salomon Brothers. His rampage reaches a high point with the post of Chief of the Mortgage Department, where he builds a trusted team, but the closeness to Mortara eventually harms Mnuchin, because Blankfein’s coup succeeds and Mortara is defeated.
These are years of intestine wars in Goldman Sachs – in 1999 Steven makes chief information officer and works closely with Hank Paulson, but this position, while prestigious, puts him out of the scope of the bank’s commercial interests. In 2002, Lloyd Blankfein finally conquers vast powers (fixed income and stocks), so Mnuchin elects to leave Goldman Sachs (where he holds shares for 46 million dollars).
“A smart guy”
The reason why Democrat senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders called Mnuchin’s nomination “hypocrisy at its worst” lies in his work history after leaving Goldman Sachs. In 2003, “democratic” billionaire George Soros wants him at SFM Capital Management to oversee the debt business, and Mnuchin gets up close and personal with the murky hedge fund waters.
During the subprime crisis he is at the head of a group of investors, among which Soros himself, then John Paulson, Christopher Flowers and computer baron Michael Dell, to buy bankrupted company IndyMac, a company specialised in loaning, promptly renamed OneWest Bank. Thanks to iron bonds with federal politics, this buyout obtains a 900 million dollar coverage – in other words, practically State-sponsored. OneWest Bank has absolutely no scruples in attacking destitute debtors’ homes, a course of action a NY judge commented with “harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive”. In 2015, OneWest Bank, freshly restored through the application of the aforesaid methods, is sold to another bank, CIT, for a 3.4 billion dollar profit – and Steven Mnuchin holds 100 million dollars in CIT stocks.
His career explains how Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’s boss, calls his former colleague “a very smart guy and a high-flier”.
Steven and Elections: Money for All (is it?)
“For as long as I can remember voting, I’ve always been a registered Republican” – and yet, Mnuchin comes up as a staunch investor in Democratic candidates, from 2000 onwards: John Edwards, Al Gore, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton (!) and Barack Obama. However, he also donated to the opposing side, up until he become the trusted fundraiser for Trump’s campaign.
The only Republican Mnuchin did not finance was Mitt Romney – and George Soros, Mnuchin’s mentor and business partner, was the most generous Democratic supporter in all elections and lately, one of the most bitter Trump opposers.
From Hollywood to Trumpnomics
A movie enthusiast, 10 years ago Mnuchin fonde the “Hedge Fund Dune Capital Management” (the name recalls Hamptons, New York, where the prospective Treasurer has a luxury estate), a company behind box office hits such as “Batman vs Superman”, “Avatar” (together with 21st Century Fox), “X-Men”, “American Sniper” and Clint Eastwood’s “Sully”. Strangely enough, Dune also produced “Mad Max: Fury Road”, a movie showing a world ravaged by that very same climate change that Trump’s government is about to declare fictional. Mnuchin also stars in his very first cameo during Warren Beatty’s “Rules don’t apply”.
So, what guidelines is Steven Mnuchin going to follow in his policies? What will Trumpnomics look like? What few statements have so far been released all hint towards a return of Reagan’s polizie – a general lowering of taxation from 30 to 15%, since apparently “Taxes are way too complicated and people spend way too much time worrying about ways to get the lower”. Less taxation for middle class families and businesses, and less fiscal compensantion for wealthier classes – however, not a substantial difference.
We will have to see how Obama’s (quite ineffective) attempts at financial regulation will fare. What we have seen so far seem to be the key points of the future policies being enacted by one of Goldman Sachs’s brighter boys, a man whose bank has, in the past 20 years, left a deep imprint on the economic, financial and political landscape of the US – often a negative impact, as Trump himself so often told us during the campaign. But that’s old news – now Goldman Sachs is in, not out.
ALEXEIN & YUAN
© Capethicalism 2017 – All rights reserved