How Will Steven Mnuchin Affect NYU Students?



Steven Mnuchin was appointed Secretary of Treasury on Feb. 13. While some finance professors think he will be beneficial for the American economy, some NYU students worry about the potential effects of Mnuchin’s policies.

Lorenzo Gazzola, Contributing Writer

The Senate confirmation of Steven Mnuchin as the U.S. Secretary of Treasury added to the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s brief time in office. Mnuchin, who worked at Goldman Sachs before moving to Hollywood to found the film financing firm Rat-Pac Dune Entertainment, has been accused of dark activity in the business world — he was one of the few people who profited from the 2008 financial crisis.

Finance professor Roy Smith said that although Mnuchin’s experience as a Wall Street trader, fund manager and film producer may not best lend itself to the job of Treasury Secretary, he believes Mnuchin is intelligent and knowledgeable about financial markets.

“He is likely to become the principal spokesman of the administration on economic policies aimed at growth and job creation,” Smith said. “To the extent that the [Trump] administration succeeds or not in these endeavors — and it claims to have a plan to increase both by more than the Clinton economic plan — it will affect NYU students.”

Smith also believes that Mnuchin will inherently influence American economic policy, though he said it will be impossible to say which member of Trump’s administration will have the most influence in that sector.

Entrepreneurial finance professor Yakov Amihud believes that Mnuchin has the appropriate credentials to serve as Treasury Secretary and that his appointment could be fruitful. Amihud said that Mnuchin’s potential success in improving the American economy would be felt by the NYU community as a whole.

“Mnuchin intends to carry out policies that enhance economic growth,” Amihud said. “If Mnuchin is successful, it will help everyone in the country, including NYU students.”

However, some NYU students, such as CAS sophomore Katrina Wilson, expressed their disappointment with Mnuchin. She is a politics major and said that understanding the economy is not enough to properly execute the role of Treasury Secretary.

“If you think that having knowledge and experience on economic matters and money management is all one needs to be qualified, then maybe Mnuchin’s qualified,” Wilson said. “But if being ethical, trustworthy and detached from corporate interests is also necessary to be qualified — and I think they are — then no, he’s not qualified.”

Some students believe the lack of support for Mnuchin reflects the absence of political unity in the country. LS freshman Isaiah Galace said this divisiveness will reflect in students’ opinions of Mnuchin.

“I think NYU students, being generally left-leaning in their political views, will react negatively to Mnuchin,” Galace said. “Particularly because a great deal of students at NYU were Bernie [Sanders] supporters prior to becoming Hillary [Clinton] supporters, I think the idea that someone with such strong ties to Wall Street now leads the Treasury raises questions as to whether or not the new administration still possesses the ability to empathize with middle and lower class citizens, [which is] essential in tailoring our country’s economic policies to benefit all Americans.”

Email Lorenzo Gazzola at [email protected].