Following yesterday’s press reports that Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross would be selected for two of the top economic posts in Donald Trump’s administration, earlier today the two confirmed their nominations to lead the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Department, respectively. Mnuchin and Ross spoke on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Steven Mnuchin made his comments on “Squawk Box,” as his selection was being announced. He said he believes the U.S. economy can grow at a sustained rate of 3 percent to 4 percent. Fair trade will also help boost the economy, Mnuchin said — sentiments echoed on CNBC by Trump’s choice for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross. Mnuchin said tax reform is going to be a major driver of that growth, and added that the Trump administration is going to bring a lot of money back into the U.S. by cutting the corporate rate to 15 percent.
Ross said he aims to fix “dumb trade” deals, while getting rid of tariff barriers. The Dodd-Frank banking regulations are too complicated and a headwind to lending, said Mnuchin, a key Trump campaign figure and a Wall Street veteran with ties to Hollywood. Mnuchin said interest rates are likely to stay low for a few years, but the recent rise in bond yields make sense. “We’ll look at potentially extending maturity of the debt because eventually we’re going to have higher interest rates.”
Regarding the Fed, Mnuchin said that Fed Chair Janet Yellen has done a good job, said Mnuchin. Ross, a billionaire distressed asset investor, also said he thinks Yellen has done a “reasonably good job” under tough circumstances.
Mnuchin, 53, will be the second Goldman Sachs alumnus with a key role in the incoming administration, following Stephen Bannon’s nod as chief strategist and senior counselor. If confirmed by the Senate, Mnuchin would become the third former Goldman Sachs executive to head the Treasury Department since the mid-1990s.
With the Mnuchin and Ross selections, Trump’s economic team is taking shape. As Treasury chief, Mnuchin would be a crucial player in carrying out Trump’s campaign pledges to quickly tackle some of the nation’s most contentious political and economic issues. Those include overhauling the tax code, reconsidering a deal that lifted some sanctions on Iran, renegotiating trade agreements to help American manufacturers and designating China a currency manipulator.