Steven Mnuchin, a hardball banker set for the Treasury

One of five children, Steven was sent to New York’s elite Riverdale Country School and then to Yale. At Goldman he did well in trading mortgage bonds. He entered the partnership in 1994, the year his father retired, rising to chief information officer before leaving in 2002. It was an era of partners splitting off from Goldman to run their own funds, normally seeded with tens of millions from their former colleagues’ personal accounts. At Dune Capital Management, Mr Mnuchin did a little better than the average; better than Christopher Flowers at JC Flowers; better than Mike Novogratz at Fortress, says one former Goldmanite.

OneWest was the deal that made Mr Mnuchin mega-rich. The bank was sold for $3.4bn, a little over the book value of its assets; but the purchase price was so low that the consortium more than tripled its money, when including dividends paid along the way.

The president-elect’s choice for the commerce secretary — Wilbur Ross, a 79-year-old private-equity baron — did similarly well out of BankUnited, a Florida-based bank that hit the skids not long after IndyMac. Mr Mnuchin and Mr Ross are “sharpies”, says Todd Baker, a former banker and now a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. They cut great deals because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which had taken control of dozens of banks during the crisis, was desperate to get the big ones off its hands. “The [FDIC] got their heads handed to them,” he says.

Mr Trump this week celebrated the “very professional” job Mr Mnuchin did at OneWest, and the billions of dollars he made for his investors.

“That’s the kind of people I want in my administration,” he said, “representing our country.”


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