Finally a Goldman alumnus for president
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Finally a Goldman alumnus for president

Should we take Vivek Ramaswamy literally or seriously?

Republican U.S. presidential candidates participate in first 2024 campaign debate in Milwaukee
Photo: Reuters

Seriously, according to the bookies, he stands third in the race behind Ron DeSantis and standout favourite Donald Trump to win the Republican party nomination to contest the next US presidential election.

Literally, his policy commitments are to take ‘America first’ further than Trump ever did.

He aims to revive America’s national identity by, for example: using the military, including drones, to secure its southern border, rather than a wall; ending affirmative action; and banning “gender confusion ‘care’ for minors”.

A former hedge fund manager and biotechnology entrepreneur, Vivek Ramaswamy wants to unleash the US economy by limiting the Fed’s role simply to stabilizing the dollar and nothing more. He says the best way to achieve greater than 5% growth is to “drill, frack and burn coal, abandon the climate cult and unshackle nuclear energy”.

Other proposals are to shut down toxic government agencies, such as the Department of Education, the FBI and the IRS; to pardon defendants of “politicized prosecutions”, including his own lead rival for the nomination; and that the US should declare independence from China.

Anti-woke crusade

Ramaswamy paints himself as a self-made billionaire thanks to Roivant Sciences, the biotech development company he founded and which managed to win approval for five drugs from the FDA, a regulatory agency he has since condemned in media interviews in the strongest terms.

There are votes to be had in this anti-woke crusade as well as money. It’s hard to say right now which he is really after.

It’s easy to assume the aim of Ramaswamy’s America First 2.0 campaign is to burnish his personal brand rather than actually to become president. But that’s what everyone said about Trump in September 2015.

In any case, former hedge fund managers love optionality.

There are votes to be had in this anti-woke crusade as well as money. It’s hard to say right now which he is really after

Meanwhile, Strive, the asset management firm Ramaswamy founded in 2022 with a debut ETF of carbon-producing energy stocks, has grown rapidly, even after his departure. In September 2023, it passed $1 billion in assets under management. Matt Cole, who took over as chief executive, says: “Our rapid growth demonstrates investors want corporations that focus on maximizing value and prefer a shareholder capitalism approach over ESG and stakeholder capitalism.”

The notion that environmental activists have somehow deprived oil companies of the financing they need to ensure energy security spread fast after Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

Perhaps we should take Ramaswamy both literally and seriously.

After all, this is a man who graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and gained early insights into the world of finance as an intern at Goldman Sachs.

It is astonishing that no Goldman alumnus has ever won the US presidency. Of course, the UK has one as its prime minister right now.

The next UK general election will be held no later than January 24, 2025.

It would be tight. But their terms might just overlap.

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