As President-elect Donald Trump looks to “Make America Great Again,” he’ll be relying on advice from a who’s who of Wall Street titans and corporate executives, including his picks for Treasury and Commerce secretaries, Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross.
That list of Wall Street advisors grew longer on Friday as the Trump transition team announced the creation of what’s being called the “President’s Strategic and Policy Forum,” a group of 16 business leaders who will be asked to meet with Trump frequently and share their views on “how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation, and productivity.”
“My administration is committed to drawing on private sector expertise and cutting the government red tape that is holding back our businesses from hiring, innovating, and expanding right here in America,” Trump said in a statement.
Never mind that the unemployment rate as of today stands at 4.6 percent, the lowest since August 2007. Or that, as the Obama White House points out, U.S. businesses have added 15.6 million jobs since early 2010. Or that the number of people who are working part-time but would rather be working full-time is now 5.7 million, an improvement of more than 400,000 over the course of this year.
Those numbers all suggest that the labor market has, by and large, been making steady progress and “bringing back jobs” for years now. But there’s still clearly more progress to be made — wage growth, for example, has shown signs of picking up in recent months but could still be stronger.
So there’s certainly room for an advisory board like this to make recommendations for further strengthening the job market. And Trump’s group is reminiscent of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which was chaired by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and also included one of the names below, Jim McNerney of Boeing, though Trump’s board has more names from Wall Street than Obama’s.
The question is just what kind of advice the next president might be expected to get from this group — and who on this list will be looking out for the interests of Trump’s voters, or the American worker more generally. Some of the companies represented by forum members have spotty records when it comes to jobs. Disney, for example, has been embroiled in a controversy over outsourcing IT jobs held by Americans in Florida. Boeing has been accused of fleeing Washington state for South Carolina in order to pay lower wages to non-union workers. And Walmart, the largest employer in the U.S, has long been accused of paying crushingly low wages to its more than 2 million domestic employees.
Here’s the list of members, as released by the Trump transition team. You’ll see a number of Wall Street financiers and a couple of large employers, with some members known to be Republican (Schwarzman, Welch) and some Democrats (Dimon, Fink):
- Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone;
- Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
- Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors;
- Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic;
- Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co;
- Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock;
- Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company;
- Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group;
- Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
- Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing;
- Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners;
- Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM;
- Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
- Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY;
- Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric;
- Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit