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Trump Needs A++ People On His Cabinet, Fund Manager Scaramucci Says


We do not know the composition of President-elect Trump's cabinet. We do know that the early figures mentioned include quite a few from Wall Street. It shouldn't be a surprise, since Trump is a wealthy guy from New York, but he's also a candidate who ran on helping the little guy. Many of the names being floated for top positions are big guys in the financial world. A historian told Politico you'd have to go back to the 1920s to see so much Wall Street influence coming to Washington. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a critic of Wall Street, has already offered to provide Trump with better names. We called a Trump supporter with a financial background to talk about this. Anthony Scaramucci founded the hedge fund Sky Bridge Capital and is a member of Donald Trump's transition team.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I think there's been an unnecessary and irrational demonization of Wall Street over the last eight years to score political points, at least on the left-leaning base. And I think that's really unfortunate because I've spent 28 years in the financial services industry, and we're not demons. We're filled with integrity and are trying to do a great job for our clients. So in my personal conversations with the president-elect, I think it's absolutely critical for him that he gets world-class people - A-plus-plus, to use his own expression - on the cabinet and members of his team. So if that means he's going to draw from Wall Street to do that or other parts of the U.S. economy or other people from academia, that's what he's going to do.

INSKEEP: Well, one thing that's odd about that, though, is that, in his campaign, Mr. Trump himself had commercials and speeches where he denounced global bankers and global financiers. In fact, his closing ad of the - of the campaign included quite a bit of of such language, and he said he was standing up for the little guy. Is there any irony here?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I really don't think so. I mean, he's basically saying that there's been an intense focus on global elitism where common people are left out of these salons that have not served the interests of the American people. And I think that's more of a broad, general statement. As it relates to specific individuals, I think Mr. Trump has a very, very good judgment, a very good temperament for understanding the people that have this kind of background and finance background that want to serve the American people and not their own self-interests.

INSKEEP: There are two issues here. One is the overall growth of the economy, but the other is the distribution, the fairness. How are people on the bottom doing? Do you believe that some of the people who've been mentioned - Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, even possibly James Dimon of JP Morgan - that those are folks who are going to understand people on the bottom and craft policies that can help them?

SCARAMUCCI: I know all those guys personally. I think they're some of the most exceptionally talented people in the United States. And so I think every one of those people is qualified to do that. And just to remind your listeners, you know, I grew up in a blue-collar family. My dad had a lunch pail. And so those three gentlemen that you mentioned understand that intuitively. I understand that from my life experience. And so we will do everything we can to create that aspirational opportunity again in the working class.

INSKEEP: Trump campaigned against the Dodd-Frank law, which imposed new regulations on banks after the financial crisis in an effort to prevent a repeat of that. Do you think the administration is going to be serious about pursuing a repeal?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I have to let Mr. Trump and the eventual economic team specifically talk about that from the administration's point of view. So I will share with you my personal opinion. One of the biggest problems that Dodd-Frank has caused is it has restricted the lending to small businesses. The lifeblood of the economy is that the banking community is a circulatory system for American capitalism.

So if you're restricting that arterial flow, which is what Dodd-Frank has done in an effort to make people super and ultra-safe, well, that's a very big mistake for the economy because what we know about life is that we don't want to make ourselves too-too safe, and then we take all the risk out of the equation, and then we can't get the innovation, the growth and the things that we need to do to populate the economy with terrific entrepreneurs. So not to say that we're going to deregulate, because that's the wrong word. We're just going to regulate in a way where the capital will start flowing again in areas of the economy where we need it.

INSKEEP: When we talk about Wall Street people and you talk about demonization of Wall Street, there are a lot of people who hold Wall Street responsible for the financial crisis in 2008. There are a lot of people still suffering - going to have long memories there. Is there is some explaining that needs to be done?

SCARAMUCCI: I mean, if you really want to understand the narrative, there are three people to be blamed here, and I'll speak very generally. Number one, it's Washington - the push for over-allocation of capital into that housing area. Number two, it was the greed of Wall Street in terms of the production of these products. And number three, frankly, was mainstream because many people overreached in their homes because there was easy money and easy credit before the financial crisis.

And so it is really that triangle of blame that happened. And Wall Street certainly deserve some of the blame, but it doesn't deserve all of the blame. And so I think that sort of nonsense hopefully will stop on January 20. And there'll be some voices in the administration that can stand up and advocate against that sort of nonsense.

INSKEEP: Anthony Scaramucci, always a pleasure to talk with you.

SCARAMUCCI: I really appreciate it, sir. Thank you.

INSKEEP: Hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci with his case for Wall Street's voice in the Trump administration. He is on the president-elect's transition team. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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