Well that’s it, folks.
Gary Cohn has seen enough. First thing Tuesday morning in “It’s High Noon For Gary Cohn’s White House Career,” we noted that Cohn’s departure was likely imminent in the wake of Trump’s decision to slap punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Sure enough, The New York Times reports that Gary will be leaving the White House in the coming weeks. To wit:
Gary D. Cohn, President Trump’s top economic adviser, plans to resign, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the Trump administration, White House officials said on Tuesday.
The officials insisted there was no single factor behind the departure of Mr. Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council. But his decision to leave came after he seemed poised to lose an internal struggle amid a Wild West-style process over Mr. Trump’s plan to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
“Gary has been my chief economic adviser and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again,” Mr. Trump said in a statement to The New York Times. “He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”
You’re encouraged to recall the history here (from the first post linked above):
Last August, Cohn was aghast when, following the Charlottesville boondoggle, his boss decided to turn a press conference ostensibly convened to discuss infrastructure into a not-so-funny episode of Drunk History, complete with Donald Trump reminding America that “George Washington was a major slave owner.”
Because you might have understandably decided to erase that exceedingly unfortunate episode from your memory, allow me to rekindle the moment. At one point, it devolved into Trump literally demanding that reporters tell him whether or not they are Thomas Jefferson fans (“What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? Do you like him?”).
Again, Cohn was there and can be seen in the following infamous snapshot, beaming with pride:
A couple of days later, a rumor began circulating among traders that Gary was thinking of resigning. That rumor catalyzed one of the worst days for stocks in all of 2017 (this was back when 1% moves in either direction were a big deal). Here’s the chart (click it to enlarge):
It should thus come as no surprise that USDJPY is taking a notable leg lower on the headlines:
Futures are diving:
And Axios reports that the meeting Cohn planned on Thursday with end users of steel and aluminum has been canceled.
- TRUMP SAID TO CANCEL THUR. TARIFF MEETING COHN ARRANGED: AXIOS
Clearly, Trump knew this was coming when he tweeted this, first thing on Tuesday morning:
The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2018
You can expect this to weigh heavily on risk sentiment.
Oh, and Lloyd is “disappointed”:
Gary Cohn deserves credit for serving his country in a first class way. I’m sure I join many others who are disappointed to see him leave.
— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) March 6, 2018
More to come.