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Trump picks Wall Street heads for advisory council

Donald Trump has named Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, as chairman of a new council of strategic advisers, capping a week that has seen Wall Street veterans installed at the heart of the incoming US administration.

The president’s strategic and policy forum, which will meet for the first time in February, also includes JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon and Larry Fink, founder of BlackRock, among other business leaders.

The group is meant to provide the new president with a business perspective on economic growth, job creation and productivity, according to a statement from the transition team on Friday.

Other high-profile business leaders on the 16-person forum include Mary Barra, chief executive of General Motors; Ginni Rometty, chief executive of IBM; and the former chief executive of General Electric, Jack Welch.

Since the election, Mr Schwarzman has spoken publicly of his excitement about the new administration and the prospect that business will be “front and centre” after years when he criticised what he said was the anti-Wall Street stance of the Obama administration.

He told the Financial Times that Mr Trump had suggested forming the group when the two men met 10 days ago.

“The election was stunning in its ferocity and somewhat uncivilised, and I had trouble relating to that, but now we have come to a different place and must come together to make the country work. That is the impulse of all of the people on this forum,” Mr Schwarzman said.

“This is a predominantly pro-business, pro-capitalist administration with an objective of not only having business do well but having the middle class and lower-middle class of this country do appreciably better, economically.”

Successive administrations have tapped private sector leaders for similar advisory groups, although Wall Street chief executives were typically kept out of the very top posts under Barack Obama, as the US worked through the fallout from the financial crisis.

Mr Trump considered offering the position of Treasury secretary to Mr Dimon, but he later chose Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker for the post. Another finance industry veteran, the private equity investor Wilbur Ross, was tapped this week for commerce secretary.

Mr Fink, who was widely discussed as a potential Treasury secretary had Hillary Clinton won the White House, told Nikkei last week that he wanted a “strong President Trump” who was able to “achieve the wishes of the people”. He said: “The number one phenomenon for the next five to 10 years will be addressing the anger felt by people whose jobs are under threat from technology.”

At least two members of the new forum have also served on similar bodies for Mr Obama. Jim McNerney, former chief executive of Boeing, was on the current administration’s council on jobs and competitiveness, and Bob Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney sits on the president’s export council.

“This forum brings together CEOs and business leaders who know what it takes to create jobs and drive economic growth,” said Mr Trump. “My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America.”

Mr Schwarzman said he was excited by the incoming administration’s plans for personal and business tax reform, deregulation, and incentives for US companies to repatriate cash held overseas.

Lobbyists for Wall Street have been hopeful that the US election results will allow them to roll back some of the rules that were introduced in the wake of the financial crisis.

As a candidate for president, Mr Trump spoke of doing away with the 2010 Dodd-Frank reforms, and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have launched a barrage of attempts to roll back specific provisions of the act, or of Obama administration regulations.

Via FT