By Isaac Cohen*
It is taking a while to appoint all the members of President Donald Trump’s economic team. However, last Monday, the Senate approved the appointment of Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, the team’s highest ranking position. Mr. Mnuchin and the head of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn are Goldman Sachs veterans. Therefore, since the White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon is also a Goldman veteran, Wall Street is very well represented at the highest decision making levels of the new government. Also, David Malpass a former Bear Stearns economist, with experience in the Treasury and State Departments, will be Treasury Undersecretary for international affairs. Finally, the head of the newly created National Trade Council is University of California, Irvine Professor Peter Navarro, known for his opposition to trade agreements and support for protectionist policies.
The appointment of prominent Goldman Sachs executives to key economic decision making positions has precedents. In 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed Robert Rubin, then Goldman Sachs Co Chairman, to head the newly created National Economic Council and afterwards was Treasury Secretary from 1995 to 1999. Also, President George W. Bush in 2006 appointed Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Henry Paulson as Treasury Secretary, he served until the onset of the Great Recession in 2008.
Two additional appointments to the economic team are pending confirmation by the Senate. Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce and trade lawyer Robert Lightizer for United States Trade Representative, who also served as deputy trade representative during the Reagan administration.
*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington.