Former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin has been recommended by Donald Trump’s transition team to serve as Treasury secretary, according to two people familiar with the process, and the choice is awaiting the president-elect’s final decision.
Mnuchin, the campaign’s national finance chairman, has been considered the leading candidate for the job. Trump has already displayed a pattern of loyalty to those closest to him during the campaign in early selections for administration jobs, and Mnuchin joined the campaign at a time when many from Wall Street stayed away.
Mnuchin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Dune Capital Management, was seen at Trump Tower Monday. Asked by reporters why he’s there, he said, “I’m here just helping with the transition this week. A lot of work to do.” He did not immediately respond to messages left on his mobile phone for a request for comment.
Trump’s Treasury chief will face a number of challenges, including a budget deficit that’s forecast to widen and require increased debt issuance; an economy that’s been stuck in a period of slow growth and exacerbated income inequality; and dealing with international partners wary about the new president’s approach to trade.
During the campaign, Trump indicated that among his first moves will be a Treasury designation naming China a currency manipulator.
Joining the campaign in April, Mnuchin was charged with a seemingly insurmountable task: Go up against the Hillary Clinton money machine that was out-organizing and out-raising Trump. The campaign’s fundraising operation barely existed at the time because Trump had spent more than $50 million of his own money through most of the primaries.
Before he became Trump’s chief fundraiser this year, he had been a partner at Goldman Sachs like his father before him; ran a hedge fund; worked with George Soros; funded Hollywood blockbusters; and bought a failed bank, IndyMac, with billionaires including John Paulson. They renamed it OneWest and sold it last year to CIT Group Inc. for $3.4 billion.
In 2008, during one of the murkiest moments of the global financial crisis, Mnuchin gathered some billionaires to assemble $1.6 billion to buy IndyMac, the California bank that customers were trying to pull their money from.
Mnuchin got an agreement that guaranteed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. would absorb almost all the loan losses after a certain threshold. After renaming the bank, it was profitable within a year. In October 2011 about 100 protesters marched on his Los Angeles mansion, angry about foreclosures. “Steve Mnuchin,” one sign read, “Stop taking our homes.” He and his partners sold the bank in August 2015.