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Is Gary Cohn a Good Pick to Head the Fed?

Trump’s top economic adviser, a Goldman alum, is a front-runner to become the next chair of the Federal Reserve.
Gary Cohn.

Gary Cohn.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

In their decades of dominating the intersection of Wall Street and Washington, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers have captured many of the world’s most powerful economic and financial positions. Gary Cohn, a longtime Goldman president and Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, is now within arm’s reach of the holy grail—chairman of the Federal Reserve. Trump has signaled that he’s strongly considering Cohn for the job, telling the Wall Street Journal on July 25 that he’s “certainly” in the mix to replace Janet Yellen when her term as chair ends in February. And while publicly shrugging it off, Cohn seems interested in the job, according to two White House officials.

Cohn is now viewed as the clear front-runner, according to a July 27-28 Bloomberg survey of economists, which shows him rocketing past Yellen as the odds-on favorite to be the next nominee. “All signs out of the White House are that he is the leading contender,” says Omair Sharif, senior U.S. economist at Société Générale SA. On top of making Cohn the most powerful central banker in the world, with influence over U.S. interest rates and banking rules, the job would give him a chance to escape a chaotic White House while gaining influence and prestige. It would also give Trump a way to put his own mark on another Washington institution. Picking a Fed chair is almost as grand a decision as nominating a Supreme Court justice. Trump could decide to live with his predecessor’s pick, or he could name one of his favorite bankers to the job.