Unlike his boss, Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin has pledged to step down from his many other jobs and divest himself of nearly all of the things that currently add up to somewhere between $150 million and $620 million. After all, his oldest kid is 14 and so probably not quite as ready to follow in Dad’s footsteps as are Don Jr. and Eric. Plus, even in this upcoming administration, there does seem something somewhat untoward about the Treasury Secretary having hundreds of millions of dollars riding on things that the Treasury Secretary has some significant sway over.
Still, “full divestment” is so 2016. In this post-truth, post-corruption universe President Trump is willing to power, can’t Mnuchin at least keep his namesake baby if he promises not to meddle with it? He doesn’t see why not.
In an ethics statement and a 42-page financial disclosure form filed on Wednesday with the Office of Government Ethics, Mr. Mnuchin said without elaboration that he would retain his “unpaid position” as president of Steven T. Mnuchin Inc., a company he said is used to manage some of his investments….
Several weeks ago, a spokesman for Mr. Mnuchin said in an interview with The New York Times that the namesake entity “held small legacy Goldman Sachs investments” and that it “hasn’t made any new investments since 2002.”
As for the rest of those divestments, Mnuchin will get right on them once the Senate signs off on his new job. Until then, he’s not really bound by any ethics rules, what’s the harm in goosing the bottom line a little until he moves in to 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue?
Financial disclosures made public Wednesday show Mr. Mnuchin owns investments in a hedge fund that has made a significant investment in Fannie and Freddie run by a Trump donor, John Paulson. The fund enjoyed a big gain after Mr. Mnuchin said just hours after his nomination was announced in November that the new administration would move quickly to restore the mortgage firms to private ownership….
In 2012, the Obama administration announced it would begin collecting most of their profits as repayment for the crisis-era investment, replacing a fixed dividend. Investors sued to stop the so-called profit sweep, and those lawsuits are ongoing. All told, Fannie and Freddie have received government infusions of around $187 billion and have returned around $256 billion to taxpayers.
Investors believe Mr. Mnuchin could move quickly to end the profit sweep, which doesn’t require legislation.
Trump has also promised to junk the estate tax, which would also be quite good for him, Mnuchin and the rest of the $6 billion cabinet, if somewhat less good for all of the white working class people who seem to think he’s on their side. But it does mean that Steve has spent a lot of money on good tax lawyers for nothing.
Mnuchin placed assets worth at least $32.9 million into the Steven Mnuchin Dynasty Trust I, according to a disclosure to federal ethics officials made public Wednesday, as well as securities filings by a company where he used to work….
Trump, who succeeds Obama on Jan. 20, has called for the elimination of the estate tax altogether, making tax planning like Mnuchin’s obsolete. As Treasury secretary, Mnuchin would be in charge of the administration’s tax policy.
While the advent of the Trump era looks pretty good for Mnuchin, we’d like to think he’s feeling a little bad for his old boss, George Soros, who prognosticatory powers seem to have failed him in his old age.
Mr. Soros was cautious about the market going into November and became more bearish immediately after Mr. Trump’s election, according to people close to the matter. The stance proved a mistake—the stock market has rallied on expectations that Mr. Trump’s policies will boost corporate earnings and the overall economy.
As a result, some of Mr. Soros’s trading positions incurred losses approaching $1 billion, the people say. Mr. Soros adjusted his positions and exited many of his bearish bets late last year, avoiding further losses, the people added.
A Financial Mystery Emerges. It’s Name? Steven T. Mnuchin Inc. [DealBook]
Mnuchin Has Stake in Fund That Would Gain From Fannie Mae Revival [WSJ]
Mnuchin May Have Used Tax Loophole Obama Attacked [Bloomberg]
Billionaire George Soros Lost Nearly $1 Billion in Weeks After Trump Election [WSJ]