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September 3, 2014

What Eric Cantor Is Really Going to Do on Wall Street

“Today brings the utterly unsurprising news that Eric Cantor is headed to Wall Street.

“The ousted House majority leader and longtime friend of the financial industry is joining Moelis & Company as a vice-chairman. His paycheck? At least $1.6 million in 2015, plus a million-dollar signing bonus. His duties? To “compete for business and advise corporate and investor clients on takeovers and other deals,” according to The Wall Street Journal. But I get the feeling that won’t be all Cantor will be doing, given his relationships on the Hill and total lack of investment-banking experience.

“But how does influence-peddling work in 2014? What do these politicians really do when they end up on Wall Street? To shed some light on those questions, I spoke this morning with Dennis Kelleher. He’s a former corporate lawyer and longtime Senate staffer who now heads the nonprofit Better Markets, the banking lobby’s lonely public-interest opposition in Washington.

“You hire an Eric Cantor. What do you expect him to get up to?

“Let’s look at Cantor’s résumé. Let’s look at all his investment-banking experience. Let’s look at his capital-markets experience. He has none. He has no experience or skills that would qualify him to be even an intern at a fifth-tier firm in the financial industry. I mean, come on! I love the spin. They’re pushing back this morning. They’re saying, ‘This is really different! This isn’t like everybody else.’

“But Wall Street always goes with the sure bet and the well-worn path. They’re paying him a guaranteed — you’ve got to love Wall Street, you guarantee money because you can’t fail on Wall Street — they’re guaranteeing him $3.8 million. You don’t guarantee someone $3.8 million because you’re training him to be an investment banker.

“Wall Street is after what it’s always buying in Washington: access, influence, and unfair advantage. And Cantor is a big catch for anybody who wants access.”

***

Read the full New York Magazine article by Annie Lowrey here

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