So, there’s another job opening in the White House.
The departure of Gary Cohn, though, has spooked Wall Street in a way that arguably no other exit from the White House short of that of the president himself would.
Ostensibly, the Treasury secretary would be Wall Street’s main representation inside the White House, but no one is under any illusion that Steven Mnuchin, despite his Goldman Sachs
pedigree, is that person.
Maybe it was just a tick, but Mnuchin told House lawmakers asking about Trump’s tariff plan on Tuesday, “I look forward to him announcing the specific details.” That doesn’t sound like someone with particularly strong influence over policy matters, and the number of times that President Donald Trump has publicly undercut Mnuchin suggests as much.
Also read: Why Trump should abolish Cohn’s old job
And while the White House is certainly under no obligation to find someone palatable to high finance to fill Cohn’s chair, there’s benefit to having what Mick Mulvaney calls a “globalist” on the Trump team, if for no other reason than to add spice to the internal debate on policy.
“I like conflict,” Trump said just hours before Cohn’s exit. “I like having two people with different points of view, and I certainly have that. And then I make a decision. But I like watching it, I like seeing it, and I think it’s the best way to go.”
The names being bandied about as Cohn’s successor include people ranging in views from Larry Kudlow, the supply sider and TV personality, to Peter Navarro, who appears to be winning the internal battle over trade issues.
But one name that would be a better choice would be Mohamed El-Erian, the former Pimco chief executive. (Editor’s note: MarketWatch publishes columns authored by El-Erian through Project Syndicate.)
An excellent speaker and former International Monetary Fund deputy director, El-Erian was being considered as a possible vice chairman at the Federal Reserve, so he’s not allergic to working with the Trump administration.
Moreover, he’d be an immediate answer to the question of whether there’s an adult in the room who’s also sympathetic to the idea that the postwar economic institutions need serious revamping.
Further, El-Erian would be credible evidence of Trump’s insistence that he can find the best people.
“They all want a piece of that Oval Office; they want a piece of the West Wing. And not only in terms of it looks great on their résumé; it’s just a great place to work,” Trump said Tuesday.
The selection of El-Erian, and El-Erian’s acceptance, could prove him right.