From Wall Street to Washington: Which finance execs would make the best public servants?

Hey there! Dan DeFrancesco in NYC. I don’t care what TikTok says, I’m not going to to stop eating raw oysters. (If I die from a raw oyster, please delete this newsletter from the internet so they can’t mock me for it.)

Today, we’ve got stories on BlackRock’s AI ambitions, an under-the-radar firm that’s nabbing deals amid the M&A drought, and why childcare costs so much in certain cities.

The US is one step closer to avoiding a default in a matter of days. The House passed President Joe Biden’s and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s bill.

But first, can I count on your vote?

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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

REUTERS/ Larry Downing

1. If I was president …

Jamie Dimon for president?

There has long been speculation that America’s most-famous banker has plans to run for some sort of public office. The JPMorgan CEO hasn’t shied away from the idea either.

Wednesday marked another opportunity for Dimon to sprinkle breadcrumbs.

“I love my country, and maybe one day I’ll serve my country in one capacity or another,” Dimon told Bloomberg.

Dimon’s already got one vote, it seems. Billionaire hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman offered a soliloquy of sorts on Twitter about how Dimon would be an ideal presidential candidate.

The path from Wall Street to Washington is well worn, with plenty of high-profile executives taking up positions in the government. 

That got me thinking … who else might make a good politician? And what role would suit them?

Kenneth Chenault — Governor of New York

No disrespect to Gov. Kathy Hochul, but she’s had a tough go of it in recent months. Her plan to address New York’s housing shortage went over like a lead balloon. The former American Express CEO and current chairman and MD at General Catalyst might be exactly what the state needs.

Chenault has a history of taking up civic causes, including encouraging CEOs to oppose restrictive voting laws. He’s also not shy about taking a position on things. He recently co-penned an op-ed in The Washington Post criticizing Florida’s new law defunding DEI programs at public colleges.

Larry Fink — White House National Climate Advisor

We’ve already covered how BlackRock is considering life without Larry. A move into the public sector seems like a natural fit.

Fink would make for a good Treasury Secretary candidate, but why not let him take charge of something he’s clearly passionate about: climate change. 

Adena Friedman — Commissioner of Fintech 

I’m bending the rules by creating a made-up position, but stick with me. Fintechs are leveling up from adolescence to adulthood — or at least trying to — and becoming a bigger part of the world of finance. Yet we don’t have a dedicated regulatory body to oversee them. The combination of agencies claiming oversight of fintechs is a game of alphabet soup: SEC, CFTC, OCC, CFPB, etc. 

That’s where Friedman comes in. The president and CEO of Nasdaq is well-versed in technology. When most Wall Street executives were still afraid of the public cloud, she was ready to embrace it with open arms. Someone with that type of foresight is an ideal candidate to oversee the space at a critical juncture.

Jon Gray — Treasury Secretary

Blackstone’s president and chief operating officer has already had a brush with public office. Gray met with then-President-elect Donald Trump about serving as his Treasury Secretary back in 2016. The fact that Gray, a Democrat, was even considered for a cabinet position for a Republican president speaks to the strength of his résumé. 

Gray’s left-leaning beliefs juxtaposed with his private-equity background would make him an interesting jousting partner for Wall Street’s biggest nemesis in Washington: Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

Ken Griffin — Governor of Florida

The billionaire hedge-fund manager has used his considerable wealth to influence politics as a mega donor for the GOP in recent years. Griffin also hasn’t been bashful about his love for the state of Florida, relocating his company from Chicago to Miami.

And while Griffin hasn’t agreed with all of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ politics, it seems as if he’ll eventually back him. If DeSantis were to win the US presidency in 2024, that would leave an opening for a new governor in the state.

Brian Moynihan — Vice President

This is a tricky position. You can’t be too flashy to take the shine away from the POTUS, but you need to be capable enough to step into their shoes.  

Moynihan’s mantra — “responsible growth” — is exactly the type of mindset you want. Bonus points for Moynihan being from a swing state (Ohio), which is always a plus for a running mate. 

Dan Schulman — Secretary of Commerce

Schulman’s days at PayPal are numbered, as the company’s CEO and president has said he will retire by the end of the year. The idea of him holding public office doesn’t seem far-fetched.

As someone who has held executive positions across a number of businesses — American Express, AT&T, Virgin Mobile, PayPal — he’s got boots-on-the-ground experience of what does, and doesn’t, work at companies. That makes him a nice pick to lead commerce. 

In other news:

Taylor Swift.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

2. BlackRock <3 AI. CEO Larry Fink said the massive asset manager was spending “a huge amount of time” on the tech to boost productivity. Here’s how Fink and co. are thinking about the cutting-edge tech.

3. Even amid a dealmaking drought, the rich get richer. Rockefeller Capital Management advised Canadian insurer Great-West Lifeco on the sale of its asset-management subsidiary Putnam Investments to Franklin Templeton. It’s a deal that could be worth up to nearly $1.4 billion. More on how Rockefeller nabbed the deal here.

4. The curious case of Blackstone’s position on office-space investments. CEO Stephen Schwarzman has warned of the challenges that US offices are facing. Meanwhile, a real-estate-finance company managed by Blackstone still holds a sizeable chunk of loans tied to office properties. The office-space conundrum at Blackstone.

5. Nobody seems to want to stay at Credit Suisse. The Swiss bank, which is in the process of being acquired by rival UBS, is losing employees by the hundreds, Reuters reported. The full story.

6. Warren Buffett is basically a quant, you guys. At least, that’s according to AQR cofounder Cliff Asness, who said the famed investor has some commonalities with those who take a quantitative approach. Here’s more on Asness’ thinking.

7. Some good news for a neobank. It’s tough sledding for fintechs nowadays, but UK-based Monzo more than doubled its revenue last year. The digital bank also cut its losses to only $143 million. (These days, that’s a win.) Here’s what’s on tap for 2023, per the CEO.

8. Kids are really expensive. (Yes, I can confirm.) Childcare can be wildly expensive, depending on where you live. Here’s a breakdown of the cheapest, and most expensive, places for getting childcare.

9. If you’re looking to buy a home, start in these cities. These 10 cities have home prices that are affordable when considering income and the rise of property values. Check them out.

10. Taylor Swift fans are wearing diapers to her concerts so they don’t miss any of her songs. More on how Swifties know no limits to their fandom.

Curated by Dan DeFrancesco in New York. Feedback or tips? Email, tweet @dandefrancesco, or connect on LinkedIn. Edited by Jeffrey Cane (tweet @jeffrey_cane) in New York and Nathan Rennolds (tweet @ncrennolds) in London.