Macaskill on markets: Making Markets Great Again in 2017

Jon Macaskill
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Jon 'Mystic Mac' Macaskill takes a look at the year ahead in banking and trading

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Gary Cohn thrills Goldman Sachs employees with a final podcast of life lessons before stepping down as number two at the bank and becoming president Trump’s head of the National Economic Council.

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"As a dyslexic boy in Cleveland, Ohio I never dreamed I could make it to the top in Wall Street then take a senior role in Washington. I want to thank Brother Voldemort at my catholic school who looked past my reading problems and saw that my taste for ripping the wings off insects and stealing food from other boys marked me out as a future hall of fame trader," Cohn said.

"Now that I am joining the Trump administration, I obviously won’t be able to quietly channel economic policy information to my former colleagues. That would be wrong in many ways, but also visually wrong (or do I mean cosmetically wrong)? Anyway, even though I won't be around in person to hike up a leg on your desk and tell you to make another $3 million by month end or pack your bags, I know that I can count on you to do what it takes to make Goldman great again. Goodbye (sort of!) and God bless you all."



Goldman Sachs provides further details of changes to its management structure and branding in the wake of Cohn’s departure.

"We thought long and hard about ditching our recent marketing campaign where we rebranded ourselves as a technology company rather than a bank," said chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein. "In the current climate there is something to be said for keeping it simple and billing Goldman as a trading firm with an inside track on policy making. Ultimately though, we decided the misleading marketing will actually help the trading by making customers put their guard down. I am therefore pleased to confirm that Marty Chavez remains head of Diversity, Awesome Technology And Cuddly Initiative Offers (DATA CIO); while Pablo Salame will run the serious business of monetizing this Trump Trade for however long it lasts."



JPMorgan CEO and chairman Jamie Dimon points out that his guys still make way more money from trading than Goldman and he could have had any of the multiple Trump administration jobs that ultimately went to Goldman veterans.

"Listen, Trump came to me and begged me to be Treasury secretary and Commerce secretary rolled into one. I could have had State if I wanted it," said Dimon. "I told him no; you think I’m moving to Washington? Forget about it. I only agreed to be on that advisory council or whatever it is so I can keep an eye on what Gary Cohn and Wilbur Ross are up to. And Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary? If that guy ever makes another film it should be called Conflict of Interest."



Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan disappoints investors and German politicians by abandoning an attempt to claw back bonuses paid to former senior executives at the firm.

"Anshu Jain alone earned hundreds of millions of euros and his top cronies took out far more than that between them when they were saddling DB with the risk we have been paying for ever since. I am as keen as anyone to get some of that back," said Cryan. "But realistically we have zero legal chance of a forced return and if you think you might be able to shame any of those guys into giving some of the loot up, you obviously haven’t met them. Even Ackermann wasn’t willing to make a token gesture. The best we can hope for is if they hook us up with some of those Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds and Japanese technology billionaires they are advising nowadays."



The election of Francois Fillon as French president is followed by the appointment of aristocratic insurance and banking industry veteran Henri de Castries as finance minister. De Castries had joined the board of HSBC in 2016 and was being lined up as its next chairman before switching to a political role.

"If Goldman can get its people into government in the US and the top central banks we can surely try to do the same in Europe," said HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver. "You might not think the French finance minister can deliver as much as some of the Goldman placements, but every bit of Brexit gossip counts at the moment, and you would be surprised how willing they are to push a commercial deal in the right direction in Paris. Plus Henri has absolutely impeccable manners and won’t throw food at your head the way Gary Cohn sometimes does."



Credit Suisse defends its decision to slash its global markets division just before the election of Trump ushered in a new era of trading volatility and higher dealing revenue.

"There are those who say that driving around our dealing rooms in a golf buggy shouting 'J’accuse’ at randomly selected traders is no way to run an integrated investment banking and wealth management firm," said Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam. "To those people I say: 'Non, je ne regrette rien’. The IPO of our Swiss business is on track and once that is completed I will have achieved my strategic goal of creating a much smaller Credit Suisse that generates much, much less money."