Goldman Sachs CEO: Gary Cohn Doesn’t Read a Lot of Policy Papers

The Associated Press
The Associated Press/ Carolyn Kaster

Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, endorsed his former deputy Gary Cohn as Fed chair. But Blankfein couldn’t help himself from taking a little jab at Cohn’s reading habits — or rather lack of them.

“Gary is very, very capable,” Blankfein said in an interview that was part of a conference hosted by the German newspaper Handelsblatt.

Cohn served under Blankfein for years at Goldman before leaving to join the Trump White House. Donald Trump has said that Cohn is one of the potential candidates for the Fed chairmanship when Janet Yellen’s term expires in February.

But Blankfein pointed out that appointing Cohn would be a big departure from recent appointments to the Fed.

“He’s not an academic. I don’t know that he reads a lot of policy papers, let alone writes them,” Blankfein said.

That’s an understatement. When Cohn was at Goldman, his deputies knew that any written communications with Cohn needed to be limited to a few sentences if they were to be effective. In interviews with dozens of former associates, none could recall reading anything Cohn wrote that was longer than a few paragraphs.

Blankfein tried to put a nice gloss on this.

“He’d be much less theoretical, much more practical. We have gone in that direction in a few generations as far as the Fed, but we used to. And who’s to say what’s better or not?” Blankfein said.

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