Steven Mnuchin will be point man for Trump’s “phenomenal” tax planby George Magnus / February 21, 2017 / Leave a comment
Last week Steven Mnuchin, President Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, was finally confirmed by lawmakers. Another ex-Goldman Sachs banker, he joins those in the new administration deemed to be “pragmatists,” compared to those of a more ideological bent. Given that the appearance of normality passes for good news in Washington DC nowadays, it is perhaps noteworthy that Mnuchin got off to a decent start.
He has had amicable conversations with both UK Chancellor Philip Hammond and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble. The Trump administration has only had kind words for Brexit Britain but Peter Navarro, who heads the National Trade Commission, had previously let fly at Germany over currency manipulation and unfair trade. More importantly, Mnuchin has had talks with Chinese officials: Vice Premier Wang Yang; Liu He, a minister and a close adviser to President Xi Jinping; People’s Bank of China Chairman Zhou Xiaochuan; and Finance Minister Xiao Jie.
These conversations were probably courteous introductions with both sides expressing the intention to co-operate and maintain the Strategic Economic Dialogue—a formal structure, established in 2006, under which US and Chinese officials regularly hold discussions. Combined with the silence from the more anti-free trade members of the administration, this suggests that for now at least, the risk of a trade conflict has been dialled back.
We can never know for sure, though, where the administration will go on these or indeed other matters. Donald Trump may allow the pragmatists headroom, but his campaign mindset is more in tune with the ideologues.
Though Mnuchin appears to have kicked of…