It has been almost a year to the day that we found ourselves at the nadir of our respect for our old pal, Gary Cohn.
This time last year, Gary was at the White House, plugging away on tax cuts and infrastructure, keeping Steve Mnuchin and Pete Navarro safely marginalized while their boss dithered and blustered about his son's meeting with Russians at Trump Tower. A few miles to the south, a bunch of Neo-Nazis were planning a little march on a Virginia college town assuming the passive support of the new president and hoping to open a new front in the war for white supremacy. Within days, all of those elements would combine and implode, leaving Gary Cohn to voice an impotent rage to whatever White House reporter would talk on background.
In the months since that dark moment in our American history, Gary did manage to get tax reform done but found it impossible to stick around the Trump administration once the president became addicted to the power of tariffs, putting American trade in danger and all but killing any slim hope of infrastructure reform. Gary left Washington in the spring and has cut a conspicuously low profile since his return to New York.
So while we've naturally been wondering what The Big Grundle has been up to since April, we admit that we've just been lazily assuming that he was taking it easy, surveying the landscapes for investment opportunities and board seats, prank calling David Solomon, and maybe even writing a book.
According to a very fun new report from Bloomberg, we've been almost entirely correct. Gary is in The Hamptons this summer, and by this account, it's been a pretty dope summer:
Cohn, 57, himself gave an update on his life after disembarking from a electric red sports car on brief loan to the couple by Karma Revero, one of the event’s sponsors. He told the valet it was slow, compared with his Tesla.
“So I’ve been spending two thirds of my time out here, playing golf,” he said. “I’ve been working, been on the phone a bunch, looking for opportunities. I’m not on any boards officially as of this moment.”
Attaboy, Gar! We like what we're hearing. You're just straight chillin' and looking to make that extra sharp post-Goldman cheddar that the kids are always talking about. Can't-miss investments that only a guy with your connects can get in on early. Old school money plays, the straight shit...
He’s signed commitment letters on investments that he declined to identify -- his first since leaving President Trump’s administration.
One is in medical tech, a field he’s already invested in, at companies including Abyrx, which makes bone putties and other medical supplies, and Samumed, focused on tissue regeneration.
Another is “sort of in the cryptocurrency world,” he said. “I’m not keen on what’s going on. I’m keen on what I think could be the new world of crypto, but it’s got to have a use. It can’t just be a store of valuation, there are other more practical ways to store value.”
Oh, well...huh. Gary Cohn is just another golfing cryptohipster in The Hamptons. At least he's not being overtly political...
On Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s idea to cut taxes on capital gains: “It was an idea he came up with that got killed in 30 seconds or less, and it won’t last 30 seconds again.”
On David Solomon, who last month was anointed incoming chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, a position Cohn himself was in a holding position for before leaving for the Trump administration: “I hope he does a great job.”
We believe 60% of that paragraph.
On Facebook: “It’s very interesting how the world turns,”" Cohn said, focusing on the ways the social media company has been a platform for fake news and influencing elections. “In ’08 Facebook was one of those companies that was a big platform to criticize banks, they were very out front of criticizing banks for not being responsible citizens. I think banks were more responsible citizens in ’08 than some of the social media companies are today. And it affects everyone in the world. The banks have never had that much pull.”
"Mark Zuckerberg is worse than Dick Fuld ever was" is the kind of chatter that we miss from the Gary Cohn we knew. It's nice to see it again.
And then, of course, there's the book...
“I’m writing about my time in Washington already,” Cohn said. “Look, I rewrote tax reform, which hadn’t been done in 31 years. I’ve been talking into my tape recorder lots and lots and lots and lots of hours. I’m afraid when I listen to it it might be the same thing 35 times. But I’m going to give someone literally thousands of hours of tape.”
What a difference a year makes.