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May 9, 2013

Wall Street hires Washington

The financial industry has long been a draw for former political operatives seeking a bigger paycheck and New York lifestyle. But with the big banks now under constant assault from reformers, regulators and some members of Congress, the flow of top talent from Washington to Wall Street has become a small flood.

Two of the biggest blue chip firms in the industry, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, will soon have top-level executives with the ear of the CEO who once occupied senior jobs in the White House and United States Treasury. Other banks including Citigroup, Credit Suisse and JPMorganChase have also staffed up with former political and regulatory officials.

The current exodus to New York reflects something of an historic shift.

In the past, traffic mostly moved the other way. Washington drew from Wall Street to help politicians understand the impact of policy on financial markets. Now the flow has largely reversed as Wall Street increasingly needs to understand — and shape — the way Washington works. Critics call the new trend potentially inappropriate influence peddling. Wall Street says it’s just hiring the best talent out there for the way the world works now. Whatever the case, it’s undeniably happening.

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“Critics say the banks are not spending that kind of money just because former political pros have good communications skills.

“’They are paying them millions of dollars for direct access to the most senior policy makers that nobody else gets,’ said Dennis Kelleher, CEO of the financial reform group Better Markets.

Wall Street’s response: Nonsense.”

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Read full Politico article here

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