“The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs,” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote in July 2009, “is that it’s everywhere.” Whether that makes the bank a “vampire squid,” in Taibbi’s now-famous phrasing, is debatable, but Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s (GS) ubiquity is hard to deny.
The selection of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary, which he confirmed on November 30, makes the second-generation Goldman partner (his father Robert Mnuchin was also a partner) the second of the firm’s alums to secure a position in Donald Trump’s incoming administration: the President-elect’s campaign strategist, Breitbart executive chair and one-time Goldman investment banker Steve Bannon will serve as chief strategist and senior counselor in the incoming administration (counselor to the president was a cabinet-level position until 1993). (See also, Goldman Sachs Nears All-Time High on Treasury News.)
Mnuchin may not be the last Goldman alum to join the Trump team, either. Politico reported Wednesday afternoon that Goldman’s current president, Gary Cohn, may head the Office of Management and Budget.
To get a sense of just how deep Goldman’s alumni network runs in global politics and policymaking – to say nothing of business – it’s easiest to start in Washington, today, then work back – and out.
Mnuchin will be the third Treasury Secretary to emerge from Goldman in as many decades (Henry Fowler, who ran the department from 1965 to 1968, doesn’t count, because he joined Goldman after leaving his government role). Hank Paulson, who headed the department from 2006 to 2009, became a partner at Goldman in 1982. Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary from 1995 to 1999, was the bank’s co-chairman from 1990 to 1992. He helped to arrange the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated commercial and investment banking.
Between serving as Treasury Secretary (a position he left in 2001) and director of the National Economic Council (beginning in 2009), Larry Summers increased his net worth by somewhere between $7 million and $31 million. He owes $2.7 million of that good fortune to speaking fees earned from, among other institutions, Goldman Sachs. (See also, Goldman Sachs to Gain in Trump Era.)
When Goldman was receiving bailout money in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Summers was not the only one in the Obama administration to have cashed checks from Goldman. Neel Kashkari, currently president of the Minneapolis Fed, left the bank with Paulson and stared at the Treasury the same day as his recent colleague; he served as assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial stability from October 2008 to May 2009, administering the $10 billion TARP paid to his former employer.
To round out the Treasury picture (very nearly, see Gary Gensler below), former Goldman vice-president and managing director Mark Patterson was the Treasury Secretary’s chief of staff from 2009 to 2015.
William Dudley, president of the New York Fed and vice-chair of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) since 2009, hails from Goldman Sachs, where he worked as chief economist for the decade to 2007. In 2017 he will be joined on the FOMC by Kashkari and Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan, who worked as head of Asia-Pacific investment banking, head of corporate finance and global co-head of investment banking over the course of his 23-year career at Goldman. Together the three will constitute a quarter of the FOMC’s twelve votes, assuming the two currently vacant seats are filled; if they remain empty, Goldman alums will account for 30% of the votes on the Fed’s rate-setting committee.
Stephen Friedman, who chaired the New York Federal Reserve Board from January 2008 to May 2009, joined Goldman in 1966 and alternated between chairman and co-chairman of the board from 1990 to 1994. He divested from Goldman in 2002 in order to serve as an economic advisor in the George W. Bush administration, but rejoined the board in 2004. He kept his seat when he took on his role at the New York Fed, later explaining that his goal had been “to provide continuity during a time of financial market instability.”
When Goldman converted from an investment bank to a bank holding company in 2008 – putting it under the New York Fed’s regulatory purview – Friedman was required to sell his shares in order to avoid a conflict of interest. Instead he applied for a waiver from the Fed and, while he was waiting on a decision, bought 37,000 (extremely cheap, given the circumstances) shares in Goldman. The Fed granted the waiver, and he bought an additional 15,300 shares.
Friedman left the New York Fed in May 2009, citing the “distraction” of a “mis-characterized” conflict of interest. He was already several million dollars richer due to his well-timed investment in Goldman Sachs stock. Before departing, he oversaw the hiring of a new president: his old colleague William Dudley.
Friedman’s son David Benioff, apparently no stranger to intrigue, is a co-creator of the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Friedman made a brief appearance on the show, the New York Times reported in 2014 – as a peasant. (See also, The 2016 Goldman Sachs Back-to-School Reading List.)
Jim Himes, a Democrat representing Connecticut’s 4th district, is the only currently-serving member of Congress to have worked for Goldman Sachs. He joined in 1995 and rose to the rank of vice-president during his 12-year stint at the bank. He was elected to the House in 2008.
Jon Corzine headed Goldman Sachs as chairman and CEO from 1994 to 1999, when he was pushed out by future Treasury secretary Hank Paulson. He consoled himself by winning a Senate seat representing New Jersey, which he held from 2001 until becoming state governor in 2006. After losing his bid for a second gubernatorial term, to Chris Christie in 2009, Corzine became chairman of MF Global Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 in October 2011 after losing $1.6 billion in clients’ money (Bradley Abelow, a former Goldman executive who worked as Corzine’s chief of staff from 2007 to 2008, was the firm’s COO). The New York Fed, headed by Corzine’s old colleague William Dudley, cut ties with the firm; the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, headed by another old colleague, Gary Gensler (see below), charged Corzine with unlawful use of customer funds in 2013.
Rahm Emanuel, who has held a litany of positions from congressman representing Illinois’ 5th district to White House chief of staff to mayor of Chicago, collected checks from Goldman while he was running Bill Clinton’s campaign finance operation, according to the right-wing Washington Examiner.
Joshua Bolten left his position as executive director for legal and government affairs at Goldman Sachs’ London office in 1999 to work as the Bush campaign’s policy director. He worked as the White House’s deputy chief of staff from 2001 to 2003, then headed the Office of Management and Budget (where Cohn may soon take over) from 2003 to 2006, when he took over as chief of staff for the duration of Bush’s second term.
Gary Gensler was a star banker at Goldman, becoming one of the youngest partners in the bank’s history at age 30. He worked in mergers and acquisitions, then currency trading. When he left the firm to become assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial markets, he was co-head of finance. He took on his Treasury role in 1997, on the cusp of the Asian financial crisis, and became under secretary of the Treasury for domestic finance in 1999. At the time he was a fierce proponent of deregulation.
When Clinton left office he helped Maryland Senator Paul Sarbanes draft the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. He took over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in 2009. Despite attracting initial suspicion from many on the left – including Senator Bernie Sanders – for his Wall Street background and one-time enthusiasm for deregulation, he was by all accounts a doggedly determined regulator. He pursued a crackdown on opaque markets for swaps and other derivatives. He pursued aggressive fines for LIBOR rigging. He obsessed over the text of Dodd-Frank, passed in 2010. He charged his old co-worker Jon Corzine with misusing customer funds in June 2013; a few months later he stepped down, his term having officially expired in 2012.
Rueben Jeffery III, a former Goldman partner, served as under secretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs from 2007 to 2009. Evan McMullin briefly worked for Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division before working as a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, a position he held from 2013 to August 2016, when he announced his independent candidacy for president.
ECB head Mario Draghi worked for Goldman Sachs International as vice-chairman and managing director from 2002 to 2005. During his tenure there, the bank negotiated a deal with Greece’s finance ministry involving a derivative transaction known as a cross-currency swap, which transferred €1 billion to the government to improve the appearance of its balance sheet. Petros Christodoulou, a former Goldman employee at the National Bank of Greece, served as an intermediary between Goldman and the Greek central bank to help negotiate the deal.
In the words of Risk, which first reported the story in 2003, the swap was “a completely legitimate transaction under Eurostat rules,” but was also “bound to create discomfort among those who like accounts to reflect economic reality.” Greek debt has since become a recurring headache that has threatened to drag the country out of the eurozone and perhaps end the single currency.
Draghi claimed to know nothing about the deal, which he said predated his time at Goldman. He served as governor of the Bank of Italy from 2005 to 2011. During his last two years in that role, he also chaired the Financial Stability Board. In 2011 he began his current job as president of the European Central Bank.
Draghi’s successor as the chair of the Financial Stability Board was Mark Carney, at that time governor of the Bank of Canada, who had done a 13-year stint at Goldman. Carney left Canada in 2013 to head the Bank of England, where he is currently governor. Michael Cohrs, who started his career at Goldman Sachs in 1981, joined Carney on the Bank of England’s board (or “court”) of directors from 2011 to 2015; Ben Broadbent, who was Goldman’s senior European economist from 2000 to 2011, continues to serve on the central bank’s board.
Malcolm Turnbull, a former partner of Goldman Sachs, became the prime minister of Australia in September 2015. (See also, The Evolution of Goldman Sachs.)
According to the Telegraph, Romano Prodi, prime minister of Italy from 1996 to 1998 and 2006 to 2008, accepted consulting fees from Goldman Sachs through a company he jointly owned with his wife from 1990 to 1993. Documents suggested that Prodi, while serving as president of the government Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), helped Goldman to broker the discounted sale of a state company to Unilever through a shell-company intermediary; he denied the claim. An Italian prosecutor said in 1996 – when Prodi was prime minister – that there was sufficient evidence to press charges, but she told the Telegraph that her superiors retaliated against her and “she was exiled to Sardinia.” Prodi was also implicated in an investigation related to mid-1990s Siemens-Italtel merger; in a note to Siemens, Goldman asked to be hired to assist in the deal and named Prodi as “our senior adviser in Italy.” Goldman got the job.
While at the IRI, Prodi’s assistant was Massimo Tononi, a five-year Goldman veteran. When Prodi’s term at the IRI was up, Tononi returned to Goldman’s London office and became a partner and managing director. After 11 more years at the bank, Tononi returned to work for Prodi in 2006 as Treasury undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He had given €100,000 to his old boss’ election campaign.
Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga was managing director of Goldman Sachs International’s hedge funds division in London before serving as Nigeria’s minister of finance from 2010 to 2011. From 2011 to 2015 he served as minister of industry, trade and investment.