- Anthony Scaramucci marks just the latest in a series of Wall Streeters to get prominent positions in Trump's inner circle.
- This time, though, it's someone who can help the president formulate a clear message.
- One analyst believes Scaramucci will be a help to big banks by helping block a return to the Glass-Steagall law separating commercial and investment banks.
Anthony Scaramucci is well-known on Wall Street. And Washington. And Singapore. And Davos. And in virtually every other corner of the world where the carefully honed practice of high finance is practiced.
So seeing him at a senior-level post in the White House might not come as much of a surprise. To see him running the communications operation, though, has served as a bit of a shock to those on the Street familiar with the high-visibility path Scaramucci has trod on the road to his current post.
For most, it's been a pleasant surprise.
While Scaramucci marks just the latest in a series of Wall Streeters to get prominent positions in Trump's inner circle, this time it's someone who can help the president formulate a clear message — something that's been missing in the tweetstorming and verbal mud wrestling that has punctuated Trump's communications so far.
"Trump's made a lot of mistakes early on," said Alfred Zaccagnino, who runs the Samarian Group, a New York-based private equity firm. "You want to learn from a guy who's learned from his mistakes. Scaramucci has definitely learned from his mistakes and has proven his success by fighting adversity and coming out on top. I want to make a bet on that guy every time."
Indeed, Scaramucci has never been shy about admitting his career path has seen its share of potholes. He was famously hired, fired and rehired by Goldman Sachs, and he has recounted his other travails as well in order to highlight how hard it is to succeed. He most recently led SkyBridge Capital, the $11.4 billion firm he founded then sold as he sought a spot in the Trump White House.
"You make your own luck by working hard," he said during a recent speech in New York, at a time when he was rumored to be in line for the ambassadorship to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
On the Street, he's viewed not only as a master salesman but also someone who intimately understands the financial world. Zaccagnino is a frequent attendee at the SALT conference, an annual event in Las Vegas sponsored by SkyBridge that Scaramucci had hosted. The conference features a glitzy slate of top names in business, politics and entertainment.
Zaccagnino has become privy to insider talk on how Scaramucci is viewed: A voluble and sometimes volatile combination of personality and perspiration that has catapulted the Long Island, New York, native to the forefront of the national political scene and at the right hand of President Donald Trump.
"The two of them are going to complement each other, which will have a positive effect on Wall Street and on top of that you have a Wall Street that is very respectful of Scaramucci," Zaccagnino said. "You put all those things together — Scaramucci is well-respected, he is a pro, Trump being pro-business — there's all those complementary factors that will result in a positive impact for the market."
Indeed, stock indexes posted fresh all-time highs Tuesday.
To be sure, there's been a little head-scratching. Some on the Street had anticipated seeing Scaramucci in a role more closely tied to finance, not running the White House's message machine.
"The fact is that the appointment to a lot of us is sort of puzzling," said Michael Cohn, chief investment strategist at Atlantis Asset Management, a boutique advisory and money management firm in New York. Cohn also has attended SALT on multiple occasions and has interacted with Scaramucci. "He's a very smart guy — intelligent, articulate per se. Maybe that'll play well."
On a sector level, analysts already are expecting Scaramucci to provide help to the banking sector, particularly at the top of the bracket. Jaret Seiberg at Cowen Washington Research Group expects that, among other things, the move will make it less of a possibility that a new version of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated commercial and investment banks will become a reality.
However, Seiberg cautions that Scaramucci will struggle to control a president who badly needs to focus on pushing through tax reform, infrastructure spending and raising the debt ceiling but instead seems preoccupied with battling his enemies on social media.
"The White House message might become a bit clearer, but it is not reasonable to expect anyone will be able to control the president's tweeting. And no one can solve the Russia mess. That is just going to have to play out," Seiberg said in a note.
"At this point, we believe the upside of having someone who understands financials in the White House outweighs the political problems it may cause," he added. "That said, we don't see how this advances the president's biggest legislative priorities."
While it's true that no one is likely to control Trump, Wall Street is hoping he has a communications director who at least can get him pointed in the right direction.
"With Scaramucci, Donald Trump gets someone who's loyal, who also has some media savvy and some connections to try to improve the relations with some of the media outlets," said Sal Arnuk, a principal at Themis Trading, which is also well-known as an advocate for market reforms. "I don't think it's more complicated than that."
Wall Street will be watching whether he can turn those assets into success for the president. For Scaramucci's part, managing expectations will be as important as anything.
Speaking to a gaggle of reporters at the aforementioned New York event, Scaramucci, a former contributor for CNBC, expressed humility rather than gloating that he'd finally landed the administration position he coveted after agreeing to sell SkyBridge. And of course, that was before the OECD job turned into the communications post.
"I never had any interest in politics," he said, but later added, "I'm happy to serve if called upon to serve."