While You Were Working - January 19

A scorecard for Government Sachs

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration, so it seems as good a time as any to take inventory of the successes and failures of the Government Sachs wing of the West Wing.

Considering the seemingly unstoppable rise of the markets and the passage of tax reform, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary D. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, can end the year with a proper feeling of Mission Accomplished.

As for Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, people say no one ever gets credit for crises averted. If that is the case, then Powell deserves some credit as there haven’t been any major national security crises on her watch.

It is, however, far more fun to analyze the tenures of Stephen H. B. Bannon and Anthony Scaramucci, who for reasons rather vulgar will forever be linked.  Bannon’s year didn’t end well, but I would stop short of saying it was a failure. Bannon advanced many of the issues that were near the top of his agenda on Day One last January (in fact, the Supreme Court announced today that it would hear a case on Trump travel ban). Like him or not, Bannon was effective.

I have long been a big fan of the Mooch. Scaramucci shot in and out of the West Wing like a comet. And while Mooch’s Comet only lasted about 10 days, it shone so bright and flamboyantly that it will be remembered forever. And no one can say the Mooch was ineffective. If his real targets in the West Wing were Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and the aforementioned Bannon, then he (eventually) hit the trifecta.

A broader question is whether or not Government Sachs has been good for the country. Many feared the Goldman alums would run the government only through the lens of what would be good for Goldman. If you are a Goldman Sachs FICC trader, then you know those fears have proven unfounded. Volatility is good for Goldman Sachs; and the economy has not been volatile at all.  If you believe in economic gauges like the stock market, consumer confidence and unemployment numbers, then maybe the country (and the world) really is better off if Government Sachs is at the helm of the US economy? Just leave the rest of the political issues to someone else.

Better late than never for Nike

In a previous life, I did a stint at a boutique sports marketing firm that was essentially a subsidiary of Nike. My job was to produce videos and other content to drive athletes to a website to buy Nike stuff. But the site wasn’t Nike.com. Quite often, execs at Nike would ask me what they had to do to draw more athletes to Nike.com. I told them they should focus on selling gear and apparel on Nike.com, instead of just trying to post viral videos. Nike.com had a “store” on it, but no one ever shopped there. I even got chastised once for declaring, “I don’t know anyone who ever goes to Nike.com to buy stuff.”

That was 11 years ago. Eleven years!!!

Today, Nike helped power a rise in the markets on the back of its improved direct-to-consumer sales strategy.

The funny thing is that another company based in the Pacific Northwest also helped power today’s market rise … Amazon.

SGX lures IPOs

Singapore Exchange is opening its arms to companies that want to list with dual-class shares. For a variety of reasons, SGX is well-positioned to capture such IPOs.

“As a country, Singapore is making huge efforts to transition into the ‘new economy’. It’s recognized as a leading hub for start-ups that need a capital structure to scale up rapidly,” explains SGX boss Loh Boon Chye.

Few in the West understand how appealing Singapore is to business startups. A move like this is just another reason why.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it

French President Emmanuel Macron is using the World Economic Forum in Davos as an opportunity to lure some of the world’s business leaders to Versailles so he can pitch them on how open France is for business. Very savvy Monsieur Macron.

WYWW Appetizers

  • Government shutdown or not, Trump’s Wall Street regulatory rollback will continue unabated.
  • I wonder what the anti-AirBnB crowd would think about this.
  • Lithium bubble? Maybe consumers are realizing mobile devices are getting too good (and too expensive) to replace ever year.