This week, we speak with Gary D. Cohn, former director of the National Economic Council. He is an internationally recognized expert on the financial markets, global economy, economic policy and US politics. Cohn is vice chairman of IBM. He served as assistant to the president for economic policy and director of the National Economic Council from 2017-2018. Cohn was the chief economic adviser to President Donald Trump, managing the administration’s economic policy agenda. He spent 25 years at Goldman Sachs, eventually rising to the positions of COO and President at GS.
Cohn found his way from US Steel to the COMEX (Commodity Exchange), where he did gold arbitrage. After a few years, he buys a seat on the exchange and becomes one of the only traders knowledgeable in trading Options on Futures. His clients soon became all of the big brokerage houses. When the partner running the metals trading desk at Goldman Sachs decided the firm should build out a full commodities division, he tapped Cohn to build it. Following the success of the commodities desk, he gets tapped to build Emerging Markets, then built out Equities and Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Divisions.
Cohn spent 18 months as the chief economic adviser to President Donald Trump, managing the administration’s economic policy agenda. His two biggest accomplishments were the giant 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and the corporate tax repatriation, bringing trillions in offshore capital back to the US. He explains what a fundamental shift the TCJA was; the new industrial policy under Biden (Infrastructure, Semiconductor, Inflation Act) was built on that repatriated capital.
He also discusses the idea of refinancing the entire US Debt into 50- and 100-year bonds in the 2010s, a great idea that failed to garner any traction in CXongress ort Treasury.
A transcript of our conversation is available here Tuesday.
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Be sure to check out our Masters in Business next week with author Michael Lewis. His latest book Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon about the rise and fall of FTX’s founder Sam Bankman Fried. Lewis spent a year embedded with Bankman Fried, who at one time was both the youngest billionaire worth nearly $100 billion dollars. The quirky crypto founder is now under house arrest and awaiting trial for massive fraud.