Malpass Seen as Leading Pick for International Treasury Job

Updated on
  • Former Bear Stearns economist has served as adviser to Trump
  • Malpass brings experience from Reagan, Bush administrations

David Malpass, who has served in two Republican administrations, is the leading candidate to be President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs, a transition official confirmed.

Malpass, a former economic adviser during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies, would bring government experience to the new administration. He served as deputy assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan administration and had a similar role at the State Department during Bush’s tenure. He has also served as Republican staff director of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.

As of late, he has acted as an adviser to Trump. He also ran New York-based consulting firm Encima Global, which Strategas Research Partners said on Thursday it had acquired.

The transition official asked not to be identified by name because Malpass’s candidacy isn’t public. Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s spokeswoman Tara Bradshaw declined to comment. The news of Malpass’s candidacy was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

Should Malpass get the job, which is subject to Senate approval, he and Mnuchin would be at the front line in stewarding the U.S. economic relationship with China, which has already come under pressure since Trump won the election. Trump has accused China of carrying out unfair trade practices that hurt U.S. workers and said he wants to impose tariffs on Chinese goods. He has taken on the Chinese government over social media, rejecting criticism for his decision to flout diplomatic protocol by accepting a phone call from the president of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rogue province.

As a presidential candidate, Trump said he would instruct his Treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator, even though Treasury in a semi-annual assessment in October declined to deem the country as such. Mnuchin in a Nov. 30 interview adopted a softer tone than Trump, saying the designation is an option and not a sure thing.

Read more: Trump’s Yuan Manipulator Tag May Be More Politics Than Practical

Malpass’s background could attract criticism from congressional Democrats, considering he held a high-profile position at Bear Stearns before its collapse and acquisition by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2008 as the financial crisis gathered steam. The year before his employer’s demise, Malpass penned a column in the Wall Street Journal where he downplayed “housing- and debt-market corrections,” which he said would probably help with economic growth.

Malpass received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Denver and studied international economics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He speaks Spanish, French and Russian, according to his biography posted on Encima Global’s website.

— With assistance by Jeanna Smialek

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