Art Cashin: The markets could 'destabilize' if another top Trump advisor besides Cohn leaves

  • The stock market could destabilize if another top White House advisor besides Gary Cohn leaves, Art Cashin says.
  • Did Gary Cohn's resignation "leave the trade protectionist in charge?" Cashin asks.

The stock market could destabilize if another top White House advisor besides Gary Cohn leaves, closely followed trader Art Cashin told CNBC on Wednesday.

Cashin, who is celebrating his 77th birthday Wednesday, said Cohn's announced departure as the White House's chief economic advisor raised questions on Wall Street about a "philosophical balance" in the Trump administration.

Did Cohn's exit "leave the trade protectionist in charge?" asked Cashin, UBS director of floor operations at the New York Stock Exchange. "Obviously, the president wants to go back to the base that elected him."

"The markets are calm now," Cashin said on "Squawk on the Street." "But further changes in the White House — that might destabilize things." He added the "bargain hunters" have come in and have taken out the recent lows.

Stocks fell Wednesday after Cohn, a free trade advocate and former Goldman Sachs executive, chose to step down from his top White House position. Cohn was seen as someone with business-friendly policies and is well-liked on Wall Street.

"You're going to see the market try to come back here and see if there's another shoe to drop in the White House," Cashin said.

Earlier Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross dismissed the notion that Cohn's resignation was part of a "palace coup." The Commerce Department had recommended imposing heavy tariffs or quotas on foreign producers of steel and aluminum last month in the interest of national security. President Donald Trump then announced last Thursday that he would be imposing tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

"He's done very good work on the taxes, he's done very good work on the infrastructure," Ross told CNBC. "Gary, as you know from all kind of media, has been contemplating some sort of a move for some little while."

WATCH: Cashin tries to make sense of tariffs and Cohn's departure

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