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Heading to big leagues

9 November 2016 By Gina Chon

Donald Trump could put new economic theory to the test. The rich real-estate mogul appealed to voters by railing against the establishment. And yet a range of financiers from Goldman Sachs, KKR and various hedge funds may wind up advising him. It’s time to see whether a group without much Washington experience can improve on America’s fortunes.

The president-elect assailed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, accusing her of being beholden to banks that paid her to speak to them. With so many mainstream Republicans shunning his candidacy, however, Trump himself will enlist help from the financial industry’s moneyed elite.

Former Goldman banker Steven Mnuchin, who served as campaign finance chair, is a prime candidate for Treasury secretary. Hedge-fund firm bosses John Paulson and Anthony Scaramucci counseled Trump on policy during the race, and could do the same somewhere in the administration.

Given threats to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals, Trump’s consigliere on the subject will be closely watched. He said he wants to eliminate the U.S. Trade Representative position and put it into the Commerce Department. Lew Eisenberg, who is finance chair of the Republican Party and a senior adviser to buyout shop KKR, and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross are among those who could be tapped to oversee the agency.

Although Trump failed to garner support from chief executives at the biggest 100 companies, he does take advice from the corporate world. Harold Hamm, who runs oil producer Continental Resources, may be a leading contender to be top man at the Energy Department.

Most of these allies, all of whom and more appear on the Breakingviews Economic Dream Team Machine, have not held jobs in the nation’s capital. A Republican-controlled Congress could make pushing policy marginally easier for Trump and his crew. The party holds only a slim majority in the Senate, though, and will need Democrats to help pass proposals.

The political-outsider pitch is often an easy one to make on the campaign trail. Governing typically demands a special set of skills, however. Team Trump soon will find out how easily specialized business experience translates into broader economic prosperity.

 

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