Trump's Treasury Secretary: The Short List
Mortgage bankers are anxiously waiting to see who President-elect Donald Trump will pick as the next Treasury secretary. Several prominent names have been floated for the job, though with every passing day, a new possible choice seemingly pops up. Following is a look at the current crop of candidates and their chances.
John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T, emerged relatively recently as a possible pick for Treasury secretary. Allison is slated to meet with Trump on Monday, according to the president-elect's transition team. Allison is well known to the banking industry, having led BB&T from 1989 to 2008. He has spoken out against the Federal Reserve Board, with which he would be working closely if nominated and confirmed to the Treasury role, and opposed much of the Dodd-Frank Act while favoring higher capital requirements for the largest institutions. A former president of the libertarian Cato Institute, Allison testified in July that the current system isn't working.
"The banks today are focused on making regulators happy instead of going out and making loans," Allison said. "It is a big mistake to believe that regulators know the proper level of risk. … They are tightening standards way too much and it is hurting the normal growth rate of the economy."
Chances: Allison is a bit of a wild card, but if he clicks with Trump, his free-market and financial services credentials will make him a popular choice among bankers and Republicans alike.
Paul Atkins, a former commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is also scheduled to meet with Trump on Monday, though it's not clear if he's interviewing for a job at Treasury or somewhere else. Atkins is already deeply involved with the Trump campaign, serving as the point person for the future administration on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Chances: It's likely that Trump is looking at Atkins for a different role than Treasury.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is considered a leading candidate for the Treasury spot, and has indicated he would accept the role if offered. The Texas Republican is close to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and has a deep and long history with financial services issues. Hensarling is a fierce opponent of the Dodd-Frank Act and supports privatization of the mortgage market.
Chances: Good. He is widely considered to be near the top of Trump's short list.
Steve Mnuchin, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, was the top fundraiser for Trump's victorious presidential campaign, and would bring significant experience on Wall Street to the Treasury job. He was instrumental in the recapitalization of the failed mortgage lender IndyMac, its return to financial health as OneWest Bank and its ultimate sale to CIT Group in a lucrative deal. Still, OneWest has faced questions about whether it engaged in redlining, including a lawsuit by two nonprofit groups filed in California this month.
Chances: Unclear. Mnuchin's name was the first to surface for the job, and he was reportedly recommended by Trump's transition team. That said, if Trump were inclined to give him the post, it's not clear why there'd be a delay in naming him or a search for other contenders.
Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, was a surprise pick as possible Treasury secretary. For starters, it's not clear he would want the job or why Trump would want him, given the president-elect's criticism of Wall Street during the campaign. Dimon would also likely face trouble in winning confirmation from Senate Democrats. Still, Dimon's name continues to pop up as a possible contender, and there have been bigger shocks this campaign season.
Chances: Unlikely. Sources indicate that Dimon truly doesn't want the job. After his lack of interest became clear, some sources in Trump's transition team have reportedly said he had never been a contender, though that claim should be taken with a grain of salt.
Wilbur Ross is another well-known figure to the financial industry. The billionaire and former banker has made his fortune in buying distressed companies and turning them around. Once initially thought to be a candidate for Treasury secretary, Ross is now presumed to be Trump's pick to head the Commerce Department.
Chances: Unlikely. Ross will likely be nominated as head of Commerce.
Jonathan Gray, the head of real estate at the Blackstone Group private equity firm, was thought to be a leading pick for Treasury secretary until just last week, but he has subsequently said he would not be getting the job.