Way back in the year 2000, Texas governor and presumptive Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush was looking for a running mate. Since he was George W. Bush, he knew a few people who might be able to help. People who knew their way around a White House and might have an idea about what makes for a good vice president. (Hint: Not Dan Quayle.) People like his father’s defense secretary, who also happened to have been Gerald Ford’s chief of staff. And so Dick Cheney was charged with finding George W. Bush a vice presidential candidate, and came up with… Dick Cheney.
Fast forward to the year 2017. President Donald J. Trump may be in need of a new Federal Reserve chair when Janet Yellen’s term expires in early 2018. He tells us, of course, that he might not be, as in spite of his vicious attacks on her during the campaign, he’s come around to like J-Yellz, who he has come to see as a “low-rate” person like himself. Sorry, “low-rates.” Freudian slip.
This is par for the Trumpian course: Making it seem like the least-likely option is still on the table, which means that all options are still on the table, because chaos is the president’s governing philosophy. Standing astride that chaos is Gary Cohn. Despite Gary’s upbringing in the decidedly non-chaotic world of Goldman Sachs, he’s managed—as much as anyone else—to figure out how to work Donald Trump, and in doing so, has saved the global economy from at least some of the chaos the president had planned for it. But doing so is an exhausting job, and a thankless one, too. Less than five months in, some suggest that Gary might be looking for an honorable exit. And that’s when the president calls and asks Gary to find him a Fed chair.
Now, Gary’s going to have some fun with this, giving some grundle time to the Yellens and Neel Kashkaris of the world. But eventually he’s going to have to tell Trump who’s name to send up to the Hill. And who better than a three-decade Wall Street veteran who also happens to be the president’s ablest and most loyal economic adviser?
An alternative to Ms. Yellen could be Mr. Cohn, who became Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser after a 26-year career at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Mr. Cohn has emerged as a key intermediary in the administration’s relationship with the central bank.
When publicly asked if he is interested in the Fed job, Mr. Cohn and other White House officials have said he is focused on his current job. But former colleagues said he has cultivated an appreciation for the power of the Fed during his long career on Wall Street and for the institution’s relative freedom during his current stint in Washington.