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Gary Cohn on the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis and the U.S. economy

On Monday evening, September 17th, before a standing room only audience, former Goldman Sachs president and President Trump’s first National Economic Council Director gave a candid, no-holds-barred interview with Reuters Breakingviews Washington Columnist Gina Chon.

Introduced by Reuters Breakingviews Global Editor Rob Cox, Cohn spoke on a wide range of topics including the causes of the crisis, unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank, the recovery and what’s next. Here we publish some of the highlights:

On the bail-outs

“Lehman Brothers got the headlines but AIG deserved them. If it had been only a Lehman event we’d be telling a different story. Lehman was a victim of the bigger problem right behind it.”

“If Lehman had gotten the same deal as Bear Stearns they’d still be here today. The Government was inconsistent. My view at the time was pretty simple – every company should stand on their own two feet, taxpayers should not be liable and if a company can’t, they should fail.”

On Dodd-Frank and too-big-to-fail

“A lot of what’s in Dodd-Frank is fundamentally not bad – capital requirements, liquidity, stress tests. But the unintended consequences of Dodd-Frank made the big banks bigger because no one else could afford the rules and regulations. They made the rules so arduous, so restrictive, so costly … you have to be big to survive.”

On accountability

“What laws were broken? Who broke the law? I love the justice system in this country. It’s one of our biggest competitive advantages, our robust legal systems.”

“I understand the Occupy Wall Street movement. I understand the anger.”

On the recovery and going to Washington

“The recovery is the number one reason I went to Washington, to the Trump administration. Recovery was slow because the United States was over-regulated and over-taxed. I thought we needed to get competitive with the rest of the world. To drive job growth (and) wage growth.”

Gary Cohn at a Reuters Newsmaker in NYC.

On taxes

“I would rather have just cut corporate taxes and not touched personal taxes at all.”

On whether we could have another crisis

“The one thing we’re all really good at is preventing the last crisis. But we won’t have the same kind of crisis.”

On the Woodward book, Fear: Trump in the White House

“I’ve said what I’m going to say.”

On who is a better boss, Donald Trump or Lloyd Blankfein

“Next question.”

On Jamie Dimon (chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase) for President

“I think Jamie would be a phenomenal, spectacular president. Look, after having seen the inside of the Oval Office and worked inside there for hours and hours a day, it’s in many respects very similar to running a complex, multinational global firm. It really is.”

On what’s ahead

“There is no shortage of opportunity in the U.S. The economy is in great shape. There’s an enormous amount of capital. GDP is growing. We have jobs growth … and we’re finally getting wage growth.”

Learn more

Watch the full Reuters Newsmaker with Gary Cohn.

More on the 10th Anniversary of the Financial Crisis from Reuters:

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