Anthony Scaramucci had his longest, highest-volatility call option come into the money on Nov. 8. That call option, of course, was Donald J. Trump beating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
Scaramucci, 52, is the founder and co-managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, a fund of hedge funds with $11.8 billion in assets under management. He’s also on Trump’s transition team as an executive committee member.
“The Mooch,” as he’s affectionately called, is one of the more visible figures on Wall Street. A former CNBC contributor, he has also made frequent appearances on Fox Business Network where he also previously co-hosted “Wall Street Week,” the iconic financial program he resurrected. He published his third book this year, “Hopping Over The Rabbit Hole.” He’s best known for hosting the SALT Conference, a star-studded hedge fund event in Las Vegas that brings together billionaires, politicians, and celebrities.
He’s become even more visible in his role on the presidential transition team. As a member of the team’s executive committee, Scaramucci proposes, interviews, and recommends candidates for jobs in the new administration. These positions include deputy, under and assistant secretary positions, as well as the thousands of positions needed to be filled in the new administration including ambassadorships. He’s also made numerous cable news appearances on behalf of the transition team.
Late last week, Scaramucci confirmed that he’s weighing a sale of SkyBridge and exploring the possibility of taking a government post.
Yahoo Finance sat down for a wide-ranging interview this month with Scaramucci, whom we’ve named our “Wall Streeter of the Year.” He didn’t rule out a future in public service when asked about possible future political ambitions.
“Can I look you straight in the face and say that I will never run for office or never work for the American government in some capacity? I honestly have no idea. I would’ve probably been more confident about that five years ago and say adamantly ‘no’ the same way I would have been very confident about saying 20 years ago that I would never be on TV,” he said.
When asked about what he’s most proud of in 2016, he responded: “I want to be in one part of President Trump’s Cabinet — I want to be in the secretary of loyalty section of the Cabinet.”
He continued: “[What] I’m most proud of is when people were railing on me and telling me that I would put my business at risk, I’m going to be an abject failure post-election, people are telling me that I am an idiot, commercially stupid for supporting Mr. Trump, that I actually had no chance to win, what I was doing is backing a loser and making myself into a loser — The thing I’m most proud of is that I never walked away from the fight.”
For the most part, hedge fund managers and investment bankers tend to shy away from the media. Not Scaramucci. In a way, he’s become a voice for the hedge fund community.
“I’m not really even trying to be the voice of the hedge fund community, to be candid. I don’t really think of myself in a self-important way…I just have an opinion and because there’s a shortage of opinions, generally, therefore, my opinion is fairly prominent. I mean if there were 10 guys’ opinions, and let’s say 10 of them were 10 billionaire hedge fund managers, then my opinion would be de minimus.”
He added: “But the problem is the billionaire hedge fund manager being told by their PR people, ‘Keep your mouth shut. Stick your head in the sand.’ I think a very big mistake for them. I wrote about that in the book — your head’s in the sand like an ostrich, but your butt is up in the air and the sun is burning down on it.”
Scaramucci also has a reputation for defending people, including Steve Cohen, whose firm SAC Capital pleaded guilty to insider trading. He’s also stood up for Jon Corzine, the former New Jersey governor who came under fire for his leadership at MF Global, which collapsed in 2011.
“My attitude is you got to stay with your friends. Stick with your friends,” Scaramucci said. “People make mistakes too, by the way. I hate sanctimonious, self-righteous people that pretend they’ve never made mistakes.”
That attitude extended to Trump, as well. When a tape surfaced of Trump making lewd comments about women on a hot mic with Billy Bush on “Access Hollywood,” Scaramucci still defended him on Twitter.
No one can excuse the statements but they weren’t public.Think for a moment of your worst private moment exposed, then start your judgment.
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) October 8, 2016
A former finance co-chair for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, Scaramucci joined the Trump campaign in late April. During the primaries, Scaramucci first signed on with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and moved to Jeb Bush’s campaign after Walker called it quits. In the fall of 2015, when Trump criticized the hedge fund industry for being “paper-pushers,” Scaramucci called him a “hack politician” in a Fox Business Network appearance. That was before he got on the Trump train.
Having a great time post speech. We are going to work harder than ever. To Win for the American People pic.twitter.com/E2cKUsLpj0
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) July 22, 2016
For Scaramucci, the biggest surprise in 2016 wasn’t Trump’s victory.
“The biggest surprise to me is how quickly the American public is actually embracing the post-Obama era. And what is the post-Obama era going to be? In my opinion, it will be a lot less ideological. It will be more consensus-building, more deal making. It’ll be more pro-American worker and pro middle-class family and it will be less nonsense about transgender bathrooms and this sort of like political correctness, which is all nonsense by the way,” he said.
He continued: “It will be more about fairness. You know if life is unfair, which that’s an axiomatic fact, it is the government’s job is to make it fairer, not fairest or to make it fair. It’s never going to be fair, OK. The rich and the poor will always be among us, OK. That’s just an axiomatic fact of life. It just has to do with the way the world works, and you can read in the Bible and you can observe over 5,000 years of secular history. What a government can do is provide a safety net. What government can do to provide a climate for entrepreneurship and innovation which will lead to greater prosperity.”
Scaramucci has an interesting perspective on class in America. He was raised in a middle-class family on New York’s Long Island, and his father started out as an hourly-wage construction worker before moving to a desk job.
“It’s Christmastime so I’ll say something nice about [Senator] Elizabeth Warren. The one thing that she actually gets, she said none of us do any of this alone. I think she totally misstated, ‘You didn’t make that’…But what she does get right is that we need, foundationally, really good schools, because at the end of the day I’m a product of a good public school.”
He added: “But without a really good public school I could not have the life that I have. And without America, forget it.”
When asked about where he gets his ambition, he responded: “I don’t know, I mean, I think that’s like poverty anxiety. Actually, I think, what happens is, [Blackstone Vice Chairman] Byron Wien said this better, but you’re likely to start to form your patterns of behavior between the ages of 11 and 17. What’s happening to you at that point in your life is probably the thing that you’re going to end up doing. And so for me, we had a great middle-class life, there was no question about that. But there was always a little bit of a monetary anxiety in the house and so I think that got transformed into my entrepreneurial ambition. I remember being 11, 12, 13 years old and said, ‘OK, I’m going to go become my own boss and make my own money’ and started with a paper route and and kept going from there.”
Scaramucci graduated from Tufts University and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School. After Harvard, he landed a job at Goldman Sachs’ investment banking unit. A year later, he was fired. Two months later, he was rehired, this time for the bank’s sales division. He spent seven years at the firm before moving into the hedge fund business. He attributed a large part of his success in the financial services community to his early career experience at Goldman.
Trump’s Cabinet, which features a handful of prominent Goldman alums — including Steve Mnuchin, Steve Bannon, and Gary Cohn — has been viewed by some as being out of touch with “the forgotten men and women” of America.
“This is such nonsense. In the last eight years, we’ve had class warfare rhetoric and anything from Washington and from politicians is absolutely nonsensical. I grew up in a middle-class family where my parents never went to college and at the dinner table at night we didn’t rail on rich people. My parents said, ‘Go do your homework and get a really good job and maybe someday you too could be rich.’ We didn’t rail on success. We celebrated success.”
He continued: “If you’re a Goldman Sachs banker, the chances are—Goldman Sachs is very meritocratic place— you’re a very successful person and you actually know how to operate inside of a global mechanized system. So why wouldn’t Mr. Trump draw on people that have that skill set? I am tired of people railing on Goldman Sachs.”
He added that he would “like to personally debate the cabal that’s out there.”
Many of the folks being tapped for Cabinet positions are in his relationship network.
“I have found that when my career has progressed the most is by helping other people progress their careers,” he said.
He later added: “I’m always interested in what is the goal of the person next to me you know the person wants to be the secretary of energy and they’re a good friend of mine, I try to help them become secretary of energy….I’m a big believer — I’ve told my kids this, ‘You will go so far in life if you can celebrate the successes of your friends.’”
A life-long Republican, Scaramucci always had an interest in politics “the same way someone would read about sports.”
He didn’t become politically active until a fellow Harvard Law graduate, Barack Obama, ran for president in 2008. Scaramucci supported Obama back then.
“I like President Obama — I’d never say anything bad about him as a guy, but I don’t like the policies that emanated from his administration. At the end of the day, my political philosophy is a little bit more non-ideological.”
Scaramucci views himself as a “socially inclusive person.” He’s a supporter of gay rights. He’s written checks to the Human Rights Campaign and the American Unity PAC, which promotes gay rights inside the Republican party.
“I view myself as a socially responsible person where we have to try to get our revenues and our expenditures to match so that our children will do better, so that’s my political philosophy,” he said.
“But what really became clear to me is as I started to get some level of success, I’ve now [become] minority partner in my own life. So if you’re at a 53% net effective marginal tax rate you are the minority partner in your life and who’s the majority partner? Politicians. They are taking the money from you and they’re allocating it and things,” he said. “So if I’m the minority partner in my own life, I better get involved in the hiring process.”
Now there’s the possibility he may be hired.
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance.
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