Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has a degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the world (Harvard grads may dispute this); He was the CIO of Goldman Sachs; He launched a successful hedge fund; He is now Treasury Secretary. Yet he appears to barely grasp basic economic concepts (not to mention his apparent fondness for fake math).
Last night, Mnuchin transparently tried to sooth markets by telling a crowd of reporters who accompanied him to the US Mint in Philadelphia that investors shouldn’t worry about rising inflation and Treasury yields – even with the 10-year yield so close to crossing into the “danger zone” above 3%.
Quoted by Bloomberg, Mnuchin swatted away the suggestion that investors are worried about rising prices, even as the average hourly wage number for January soared the most since 2009, triggering this month’s “volocaust”. Why? Because in Mnuchin’s mind, wage inflation and rising consumer prices have only a tenuous link – if that.
“There are a lot of ways to have the economy grow,” Mnuchin said in an interview aboard a train to Philadelphia on Thursday, where he toured the U.S. Mint. “You can have wage inflation and not necessarily have inflation concerns in general.”
If that’s true – it’s certainly news to us. And judging by the tone of these dismayed Jeffrey Gundlach tweets, we’re not alone.
Back in September 2015, when we first predicted that bitcoin would enjoy an exponential price increase as first the Chinese and then everyone else realized that the cryptocurrency is nothing less than the digital equivalent of borderless Swiss bank account, bypassing capital controls with ease and enabling money laundering anywhere and everywhere, its market cap was $3 billion. It is now $230Bn.
Today, a little over two years later, the US Treasury has figured this out, and on Friday Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will work with the Group of 20 nations to prevent cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin from becoming the digital equivalent of an anonymous Swiss bank account.
“We are very focused on cryptocurrencies,” Mnuchin explained, pointing to discussions with other regulators within the U.S. government and later stating: “We want to make sure that bad people cannot use these currencies to do bad things.”
Treasury Secretary and noted Hollywood producer Steven Mnuchin provoked criticisms from his political opponents after photos surfaced last week of Mnuchin and his wife Louise Linton posing with a sheet of newly printed dollar bills bearing Mnuchin’s signature.
Asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace what it was like being compared with a bond villain after the photos went viral, Mnuchin said he took it as a compliment.
“I heard that. I never thought I’d be quoted as looking like a villain from the James Bond [movies].I guess I should take that as a compliment that I look like a villain in a great, successful James Bond movie,” Mnuchin said.
“I was very excited about having my signature on the money and it’s something I’m very proud of being the secretary and helping the American people.”
Mnuchin said he thought nothing of it at the time the photo was taken, saying he didn’t expect it to be so widely shared on the Internet.
The Donald’s strong point isn’t his grasp of policy detail.
The nine page bare-bones outline released this week is nothing more than an aspirational air ball that lacks virtually every policy detail needed to assess its impact and to price out its cost.
It promises to shrink the code to three rates (12%, 25%, 35%), for example. But it doesn’t say boo about where the brackets begin and end compared to current law.
Needless to say, a taxpayer with $50,000 of taxable income who is on the 15% marginal bracket today might wish to know whether he is in the new 12% or the new 25% bracket proposed by the White House. After all, it could change his tax bill by several thousand dollars.
Similarly, to help pay for upwards of $6 trillion of tax cuts over the next decade, it proposes to eliminate “most” itemized deductions. These “payfors” would in theory increase revenues by about $3 trillion.
Last month, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s trophy wife Louise Linton posted the following ill-advised response to an Instagram troll that, among other things, condescendingly blasted the suggestion that Mnuchin/Linton used government planes “for our honeymoon or personal travel.”
“Cute! Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message [sic], one filled with wisdom and hunanity [sic] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”
Alas, it now seems that even if the U.S. government didn’t ultimately pay for Linton’s honeymoon or personal travel that Mnuchin at least gave it the ‘good ole college try’. According to Bloomberg, Mnuchin requested a U.S. Air Force jet for his honeymoon in Europe last month “for national security reasons”but subsequently withdrew the request after realizing he wasn’t really that important to the world at large.
“Cute! Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did.”…
Full out war between Democrats and the White House broke out today when Senate Democrats on Tuesday refused to attend a committee vote on two President Trump’s more controversial nominees, effectively delaying their consideration. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted votes to advance Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin, his selection to head the Treasury Department.
Since at least one democrat must be on present for the vote to be held, the move will effectively delay and potentially prevent the confirmation votes on Mnuchin and Price. The duo is among some of the more contentious selections to join Trump’s Cabinet.
“You were a Director at Sears for 12 years where you had oversight over the administration and investment in the pension fund.”
That Sears Holdings will file for bankruptcy appeared to be taken for granted in the confirmation hearings before the US Senate on Thursday. And when it does file, it’s going to get very complicated for Steven Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s appointment for Treasury Secretary. But the most fascinating part, for us as a non-political site, is the dissection of the whole Sears deal.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), as he proceeds with his questioning, lays out how Sears Holding’s CEO “Eddie” Lampert, his hedge fund ESL, and some other entities have worked hard to get their hands on the real estate when Sears Holdings goes through bankruptcy, while the pension fund left behind is a sinkhole that taxpayers might be shanghaied into filling.
Earlier this morning we predicted a fiery confirmation hearing for Trump’s Treasury Secretary pick, Steven Mnuchin. And right on cue, the confirmation had barely begun when it was promptly derailed after Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas suggested that his colleague, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), should pop a valium before the next round of questioning.
“Sen. Wyden, I’ve got a Valium pill here that you might want to take before the second round….just a suggestion, sir.”
Of course, the comment didn’t go over well with Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee as Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) pounced on the remarks sending the hearing into a moment of pure chaos with Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) struggling to regain control.
Wednesday’s post, Donald Trump Has an Enormous and Very Dangerous Wall Street Blind Spot, highlighted the fact that the bank run by Trump’s Treasury Secretary nominee, Steven Mnuchin, was given a pass by California attorney general Kamala Harris, despite the discovery of over a thousand legal violations. Kamala Harris has since been (s)elected to the U.S. Senate.
The confirmation of former Goldman Sachs Partner Steven Munchin, who is Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary, may have gotten just a little more problematic today, after Mnuchin declined to answer questions from Democratic senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio about his views on financial regulations, sanctions and his time as head of a bank accused of unfair foreclosure practices.
Brown, the top Democratic on the senate banking committee sent a letter on Dec. 21 asking Mnuchin to detail his position by Jan. 6 on issues that are under the committee’s purview, including fair lending laws and foreclosure-prevention programs. As Bloomberg reports, Mnuchin doesn’t plan to respond to the senator in writing, though several weeks ago he requested a meeting with Brown, who hasn’t yet accepted, according to Mnuchin’s spokeswoman Tara Bradshaw.
“Mnuchin will work with Senator Brown within the protocol of the finance committee – and will not be providing written answers in advance of a deadline yet to be established by the finance committee,” Bradshaw told Bloomberg on Tuesday in an e-mailed reply to questions.
To conclude, this article is primarily written for all my readers who are either Trump supporters, or who reluctantly voted for him. My message to you is that we need to hold this man’s feet to the fire. The election is over, and you got your desired outcome. Now is not the time to be a cheerleader. Now is not the time to behave exactly like Obama zombies did after he became an obvious betrayal. What allowed Obama to do all the bad things he did, was the fact that his supporters made endless excuses for him. Don’t make excuses for Trump. If you do, your life will get a lot worse and this country will decay far more into an authoritarian oligarchy than it already has. It is up to you to make sure he doesn’t become the Wall Street puppet I always feared he would be.
Barely having confirmed he will be Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin proceeded to roil the bond market when the former Goldman banker told CNBC he would look at extending the maturity of future Treasury issuance, hinting at 50 and 100 Year bonds, which promptly sent long-term US bond yields surging by the most since the turmoil following Trump’s election victory.
Following yesterday’s press reports that Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross would be selected for two of the top economic posts in Donald Trump’s administration, earlier today the two confirmed their nominations to lead the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Department, respectively. Mnuchin and Ross spoke on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Steven Mnuchin made his comments on “Squawk Box,” as his selection was being announced. He said he believes the U.S. economy can grow at a sustained rate of 3 percent to 4 percent. Fair trade will also help boost the economy, Mnuchin said — sentiments echoed on CNBC by Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross. Mnuchin said tax reform is going to be a major driver of that growth, and added that the Trump administration is going to bring a lot of money back into the U.S. by cutting the corporate rate to 15 percent.
While it has yet to be officially confirmed by the Trump transition team, moments ago the NYT reported that – in what had previously been leaked on several occasions on various other outlets most notably the WSJ – former Goldman banker and Soros employee, Steven Mnuchin “a financier with deep roots on Wall Street and in Hollywood but no government experience” is expected to be named Donald J. Trump’s Treasury secretary as soon as Wednesday.
The WSJ has confirmed as much, reporting that “President-elect Donald Trump will name longtime banker and former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin as Treasury secretary, turning to a campaign loyalist and fundraiser for the incoming administration’s top economic cabinet post, a transition official said Tuesday.”
Steven Terner Mnuchin at Trump Tower in Manhattan this month
Months after Christie, having lost his presidential primary to Donald Trump, had ambitions for becoming Trump’s vice presidential candidate, Christie just suffered another dramatic fall from grace after President-elect Donald Trump shuffled his transition team three days after his surprising victory, and increased the influence of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of Washington’s most vocal critics of illegal immigration, while diluting that of Christie.
According to the WSJ, Chris Christie was removed as Trump campaign transition chairman on Friday, a position that will now be filled by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the transition team confirmed. Christie will remain on the transition team’s executive committee as a vice chairman, along with Ben Carson, both largely figured positions; they will be also joined by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mr. Sessions.
“I’m a big fan of Israel and frankly a strong Prime Minister is a strong Israel, and you truly have a great Prime Minister in Benjamin Netanyahu. There’s nobody like him, he’s a winner, he’s highly respected, he’s highly thought of by all,” Trump says. “Vote for Benjamin: terrific guy, terrific leader, great for Israel.”
Six months ago, Steven Mnuchin became finance chair for the Trump campaign. Having succesfully helped to raise 10s of millions of dollars for the campaign, the former Goldman Sachs partner and Soros Fund management employee is now positioned for something much larger as Donald Trump reportedly told his aides today that he wants Mnuchin to serve as his Treasury Secretary.
Ironically, Trump has often criticized Clinton (and his former competitor Ted Cruz) for their links to the big banks:
“I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton,” Trump said in one debate.