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Trump aide, top Republican staffers, BlackRock exec among Mnuchin's top staff at Treasury

Treasury announces Secretary's senior staff

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A former top aide to the campaign of President Donald Trump, two top Republican staffers, and a former executive at BlackRock will serve as the senior staff to Steven Mnuchin, the Department of the Treasury announced Friday.

Mnuchin, now firmly installed as Treasury Secretary, said that the four staffers will serve as key advisors on areas ranging from the federal budget, to tax reform, legislative issues, domestic finance, housing finance policy, and regulatory reform.

“I am pleased to have these highly capable and accomplished individuals join my Treasury leadership team,” Mnuchin said. “I look forward to having their valuable input and leadership as we move President Trump's ambitious economic growth agenda forward on behalf of the American public.”

Each of the four staffers will serve as a Counselor to Mnuchin.

The four staffers are:

Craig Phillips, who joins the Treasury from BlackRock, where he served as Head of Financial Markets Advisory and Client Solutions. According to Phillips’ Treasury bio, while at BlackRock, he led a “broad-based practice which advised central banks, banking supervisors and multi-lateral organizations around the world, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

Reuters reported back in September that Phillips planned to leave BlackRock for a potential “transition to the public sector.”

Here’s a selection of that article that sheds more light on Phillips:

A Wall Street veteran for decades, Phillips joined the company during the apex of the global financial crisis as the once-marginal bond-focused manager became the largest company of its kind globally and found new heft and demand for its counsel in the years during and since the global financial crisis.

BlackRock marshaled the unit Phillips runs—Financial Markets Advisory, or FMA—in 2008 when the company was tapped by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to help manage assets and keep the financial system running smoothly.

"FMA has not only become a thriving business, it has contributed to BlackRock's reputation in a way that truly sets us apart from other asset managers," said the memo, which was signed by BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink and two of his senior deputies, Rob Kapito and Rob Goldstein.

According to Phillips’ BlackRock bio, he joined the company in 2008. Previously, Phillips served as a managing director of Morgan Stanley from 1994 to 2006. While at Morgan Stanley, he worked in the company’s Fixed Income division, and was responsible for oversight of its global Securitized Products Group.

At the Treasury, Phillips will work with Mnuchin on issues relating to “domestic finance, housing finance policy and regulatory reform,” the announcement said.

Dan Kowalski, who joins the Treasury after serving 19 years on Capitol Hill, most recently as the deputy staff director of the Senate Budget Committee. Kowalski also served as deputy national policy director and senior advisor for budget policy for the Trump campaign.

Kowalski also served as a member of Trump’s economic advisory council, announced during the campaign. Other members of the Trump campaign’s economic advisory council included Mnuchin, and Wilbur Ross, who now serves as Secretary of the Department of Commerce in the Trump administration.

At the Treasury Department, Kowalski will focus on federal budgetary issues, matters involving the debt limit, and infrastructure finance.

Shannon McGahn, who joins Treasury with more than 15 years of experience on Capitol Hill and in public affairs. Most recently, McGahn served as staff director for the House Financial Services Committee under Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

According to the Treasury announcement, McGahn also previously served in communications roles for three members of House Republican leadership.

At the Treasury Department, McGahn will advise Mnuchin on “matters relating to both legislative and public affairs.”

Justin Muzinich, who joins Treasury having held leadership roles in policy and in business, according to the department’s announcement.

According to this article from the Washington Post, Muzinich served as the policy director for the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush.

Most recently, Muzinich served as president of Muzinich & Co., an international investment firm, and taught at Columbia Business School.

Muzinich also helped pen a Washington Post op-ed in 2013 about changing the mandate of the Federal Reserve.

Here’s a selection of that article:

But a Fed focused on identifying excess could more actively use its bully pulpit to alert the public to perceived overheating, much as Stein did to some effect with the corporate bond market several months ago. If the excess becomes a systemic threat, the Fed should then address it through its (existing) powerful interest-rate levers.

No solution will eliminate financial excesses, but the country can reduce the probability of another crisis. The debate leading up to Dodd-Frank is a cautionary tale of what happens when there is an emphasis on individual rules without a discussion of framework and organizations.

At the Treasury, Muzinich will “work closely with Secretary Mnuchin on major policy initiatives, both domestic and international, and will work with the Office of Tax Policy and the Office of Economic Policy on tax reform.”

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