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Sideways: Wall Street’s Washington takeover

The coming move towards a Volcker Rule 2.0 that relaxes monitoring of proprietary risk taking by bank dealing desks has been portrayed as a result of president Donald Trump’s administration finally placing its preferred officials in key regulatory positions.


Craig Phillips was hired by Mnuchin as a counsellor in January 2017

It can instead be viewed as a takeover of Washington roles by Wall Street.

Trump shows little interest in the details of key foreign policy issues such as relations with North Korea and Iran, so the idea that he would form a view on the intricacies of proprietary trading or derivatives regulation is laughable.

Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, isn’t much of a policy wonk either, and many former colleagues now wonder how he ever managed to make partner at Goldman Sachs. Mnuchin knows where he stands on broad issues of regulation, however, and that is firmly in line with the interests of Goldman and other Wall Street firms.

The appointment of one of his key advisers indicates the extent to which Wall Street will tailor its views to co-opt Washington decision makers and secure its regulatory goals.

Craig Phillips was hired by Mnuchin as a counsellor in January 2017; an appointment that neatly avoided the need for congressional confirmation and seems to have been conducted with enough discretion to avoid provoking the ire of Trump.

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