mises.org / Tho Bishop / December 1, 2016
After weeks of speculation, Donald Trump has announced Steve Mnuchin as his nominee for Treasury Secretary. Though Mnuchin can currently be seen in movie theaters playing a banker in Warren Beatty’s new film Rules Don’t Apply, he has a lower profile than most tapped to head the Treasury department. Probably to his credit, he has no experience with public policy and has made relatively few public statements on policy. Perhaps his best qualification for the position was that he was an early supporter of Trump’s campaign, serving as its fundraising director.
Though Mnuchin himself has said little, his resume does seem to contrast sharply with Trump’s populist campaign. Mnuchin, like his father before him, was a partner at Goldman Sachs before joining the world of hedge funds, including working as a portfolio manager for George Soros. He went on to start his own hedge fund, Dune Capital Management, and become a prominent Hollywood financier serving as executive producer for such hits as Avatar, Lego Movie, Mad Max: Fury Road as well as a number of superhero films.
While it’s certainly possible to have a history with a Wall Street bank like Goldman Sachs and not end up an asset to them later on, Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon too spent time in Goldman trading offices before becoming a critic of taxpayer bank bailouts, there are some troubling signs that Mnuchin is unlikely to “drain the swamp” connecting Wall Street to the beltway.