From bankers to businesspeople, pundits to presidents, meet the 100 most powerful men and women in global finance for 2018. Here’s how they’re changing the world.
PATH TO POWER: His resume is impressive: Harvard Law, Goldman Sachs, founder of fund of funds SkyBridge Capital and—very, very briefly—White House communications director.
But his real path to power is just plain persistence.
POWER PLAY: A year ago, Worth bumped Scaramucci off this list. He had, after all, flamed out spectacularly at the White House, giving an interview (he thought it was off the record) so hilariously profane—is Steve Bannon flexible enough to do that?—that President Trump had little choice but to fire him. Other people might have taken a long vacation in a place with no WiFi. Not the Mooch. He was on TV making mea culpas practically before he was out the door. He even went on Dr. Phil with his wife, Deidre, to talk about their marital problems. “Once I was rejected from the White House…it caused a major re-centering of my priorities,” he confessed. Now Scaramucci is back at SkyBridge, trying to rejuvenate the firm after its planned sale to a consortium of foreign buyers imploded. He’s also looking to bring back SALT, his much-missed Vegas hedge fund conference. And—or are we just imagining it?—if you follow him on Twitter, as 873,000 people do, you might get the impression that he’s distancing himself ever so slightly from the man who sent him packing.
2017 RANKING: 96
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of the University of Kansas, Mallouk also has an MBA and law degree from the same institution. While an estate lawyer, he bought Creative Planning in 2004. At the time, it had about $34 million in AUM. It now has about $37 billion, making Mallouk and his firm one of the real powerhouses in the financial planning world.
POWER PLAY: In 2017, Mallouk partnered with life coach and, increasingly, financial scribe Tony Robbins on the book Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook, which elevated his profile while creating a referral stream. This year Mallouk moved his Kansas City–based firm, some 600 employees in all, into two brand-new buildings totaling about 225,000 square feet that Mallouk built and owns. For Mallouk, it’s not so much a declaration of arrival—he’s well past that—but a foundation for new growth.
PATH TO POWER: Zuckerberg’s rise has been chronicled many times over, from creating a website called thefacebook.com in his Harvard dorm room in 2004, to growing it into one of the world’s most valuable companies. The social network, combined with smart acquisitions of companies including Instagram and WhatsApp, has given Zuckerberg an unprecedented amount of con-trol over huge swaths of public and private life.
POWER PLAY: Facebook has played a critical role in U.S., European and developing world elections, and agents of the Russian and Iranian governments, at a minimum, have gamed it to distribute fake news to pump up divisive political issues and puff antidemocratic candidates. But what may ultimately prove to be more consequential is Zuckerberg’s ongoing quest to gain access to Americans’ banking info, including their bank balances and card use. In the past year, Facebook has approached JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp, according to the Wall Street Journal. Only one bank has reportedly turned down the social network’s advances due to concerns about privacy.
PATH TO POWER: Born in Weehawken, N.J., Ross made his career buying distressed companies for Rothschild and then at the eponymous WL Ross & Co., which he sold to Invesco in 2006, although he continued to operate the fund. His relationship with Donald Trump goes back decades: Along with Carl Icahn, Ross saved Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City from foreclosure in the early ’90s. After he was elected president, Trump named Ross secretary of commerce.
POWER PLAY: Ross has had pretentions of grandeur for decades—in that regard his long-running friendship with Trump makes perfect sense—but the public spotlight has not been good for him. He is perhaps best known these days as the force behind the administration’s controversial decision to include a question on the 2020 Census demanding to know the citizenship of those surveyed. And Forbes reported credible accusations in August that Ross had been systematically grifting and bilking his investors for years, to the tune of at least $120 million. Nevertheless, as commerce secretary, Ross holds a significant amount of power in the ongoing trade disputes between the Trump administration and just about every other foreign government, almost putting Chinese mobile technology company ZTE out of business before settling for $1.4 billion in fines.
PATH TO POWER: A Missourian by birth, Trott earned his AB and MBA at the University of Chicago and upon graduating made a beeline for Goldman Sachs, where he worked for Henry Paulson and developed a niche for himself advising on mega-mergers and acquisitions for family businesses: Mars and Wrigley, for example. Most notably, he orchestrated a $4.5 billion acquisition of Pritzker family assets by Berkshire Hathaway, and, in 2008, $5 billion from Warren Buffett for Goldman itself.
POWER PLAY: Over the years, Trott has become the banker that billionaires trust above all others. As the head of BDT Capital Partners, which he founded in 2009, he advises family business empires and closely held companies. In 2018, for instance, he helped orchestrate the $18.7 billion cash purchase of Dr. Pepper Snapple by Keurig Green Mountain, the Luxembourg-based coffee company owned, ultimately, by the German Reimann family. In June, it was reported that Trott was raising a new $9 billion private equity fund.
2017 RANKING: 80
PATH TO POWER: Andreessen has been one of Silicon Valley’s most influential investors and innovators since the early days of the internet. After studying computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Andreessen moved to California in 1993 and IPOed Netscape in 1995. In 2005, after creating a number of other internet companies, Andreessen began investing alongside business partner Ben Horowitz in a series of 45 startups, including Twitter. By 2009, when they officially launched their venture capital fund, the two had pumped more than $4 billion into tech startups.
POWER PLAY: While there are lots of successful VCs, Andreessen is perhaps the most influential, thanks to seats on key boards including Facebook and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and his closely watched blog. In June, Andreessen’s firm launched a $300 million fund for investing in cryptocurrency startups, a big endorsement of the emerging technology.
2017 RANKING: 52
PATH TO POWER: A Canadian by birth, Harvard- and Oxford-educated Carney began his career at Goldman Sachs before entering public service as Canada’s senior associate deputy minister of finance in 2004. He became governor of the Bank of Canada in 2008 and then governor of the Bank of England in 2013.
POWER PLAY: As the United Kingdom’s top banker, Carney is a key player in the nation’s departure from the European Union. Although Carney originally planned to leave the central bank in 2019, the advent of Brexit caused him to extend his term by another year. He is generally well regarded throughout England. He has been dogged, however, by a slow-burning scandal in which he is accused of proffering one-on-one meetings to individuals who spent money through a charity auction program.
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Yale and MIT, Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2008, and since then, thanks to his incisive commentary at the Times, he’s become one of today’s most influential economists.
POWER PLAY: In the past year, Krugman has been a leading voice against economic inequality, and his commentary has focused on the economic roots of populist governments, both in the United States and Europe. He’s been particularly critical of what he sees as GOP enabling of President Trump’s worst economic and policy instincts. “Make no mistake: if Republicans hold both houses of Congress this November, Trump will go full authoritarian,” he wrote in August, going on to warn of potential abuse of government agencies, such as the IRS, if the administration remains unchecked.
PATH TO POWER: Born in the UK of Sri Lankan descent and educated at the University of New South Wales, Wikramanayake has spent 30 years at Australia’s Macquarie Group, the world’s largest infrastructure bank, most recently as head of its asset management unit. She will take over as CEO from Nicholas Moore in November 2018.
POWER PLAY: In taking the helm of $30 billion Macquarie, Wikramanayake will become one of only a handful of women to run a major global bank. She has said she wants to use her platform to bring more women into finance and to encourage more girls to choose the field as a career. And she stands as an example of the financial benefits of that choice: In 2018, Wikramanayake had a remuneration package of $16.7 million, making her one of the highest paid financial executives in Australia. Macquarie Group has been performing well in the decade since the financial crisis, so Wikramanayake’s job is one of maintaining financial stability while building on the bank’s reputation as a well-managed meritocracy.
PATH TO POWER: A native of the New York suburbs and a graduate of Cornell, Sorkin started out as a high school intern at the New York Times. He became a full-time business reporter for the paper covering the European M&A beat in 1999, and launched its much-read DealBook blog in 2001. Sorkin chronicled the financial crisis in his 2009 book, Too Big to Fail, which was subse-quently turned into an HBO film. He joined CNBC as Squawk Box co-anchor in 2011.
POWER PLAY: Sorkin helps determine how the public perceives Wall Street. He’s known for scoops and trenchant analysis, but it’s his feel for the zeitgeist of the financial world that makes him truly influential. He is the cocreator of Showtime’s Billions, which is closely based on former U.S. attorney general for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara’s investigation of Steve Co-hen’s SAC Capital hedge fund for insider trading. In Sorkin’s fictionalized portrayal, Bobby Axelrod is the Gordon Gekko of the 21st century.
PATH TO POWER: The 52-year-old activist investor started his first hedge fund, Gotham Partners, shortly after receiving his MBA from Harvard in 1992. Although that fund was forced to shut down in 2003, Ackman rebranded to found Pershing Square Capital Management in 2004, and soon became famous for a short on municipal bond insurer MBIA, making $1 billion when its stock collapsed during the financial crisis.
POWER PLAY: Ackman’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in recent years due to a horrible bet on Valeant, the controversial pharma company, in which he eventually lost $4 billion. Then his five-year crusade to bring down Herbalife, the controversial multilevel-marketing company, failed. Those high-profile losses led investors to flee, and many predicted his fund’s demise—which, given Ackman’s reputation as his own biggest fan, may have been wishful thinking. But Ackman is resilient, and this year, thanks to double-digit gains through August, his firm has stabilized at more than $8 billion in assets. Among his winners is Chipotle Mexican Grill, where a new CEO he recruited has reinvigorated the troubled eatery.
2017 RANKING: 95
PATH TO POWER: Born in New York to an Egyptian father and French mother, El-Erian grew up in Egypt, New York, France and England. After earning multiple degrees, including a doctorate in economics from Oxford, El-Erian began working at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, then moved into the private sector in finance. He has served as CEO and president of the Harvard Management Company and CEO and co-CIO of bond firm PIMCO. He left PIMCO for personal reasons in 2014 and has since assumed the mantle of one of global economics’ wise men (and women).
POWER PLAY: El-Erian’s might be described as a “quiet” power, which is to say, the power of influence. He writes columns for Bloomberg, the Financial Times, Project Syndicate and others, and he is a regular commentator on cable news shows. His take: steeped in data and consistently global. His impact: a sage reminder that economics is, at its best, a nonpartisan pursuit in-tended to better the world by understanding its economic forces.
2017 RANKING: 76
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Duke and the University of Chicago Law School, Rubenstein is one of the world’s most successful private equity players. He and two other investors founded the Carlyle Group in 1987 with $5 million. In the years since, he has grown it to $210 billion in AUM.
POWER PLAY: Carlyle is still a massive player, but there have been some stumbles in the past year, including the admission that its Chinese real estate strategy wasn’t working. Rubenstein himself has stepped back from the firm, focusing much of his time and attention on his prodigious philanthropic activities. He also directly oversees Declaration Capital (his love of American history is legendary), the family office he created last year to oversee his personal fortune, estimated at $2.8 billion. Rubenstein also funded an affiliate, Declaration Partners, that may eventually seek capital beyond his own fortune. And the financier is staying in the public eye, hosting a new Bloomberg and PBS television program, The David Rubenstein Show, where he interviews corporate leaders like Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.
2017 RANKING: 93
PATH TO POWER: Colorado native Smith won a competitive Bell Labs college internship when he was in high school. He went on to Cornell and worked as a chemical engineer at Goodyear and Kraft before earning his MBA at Columbia Business School. In 1994, he joined Goldman Sachs, where he led the bank’s early efforts in Silicon Valley. Smith founded Vista Equity Partners in 2000 and since then has grown it into one of the most successful technology-focused private equity firms in the U.S., with approximately $35 billion in AUM.
POWER PLAY: Vista’s ongoing success has made Smith a very wealthy man. He surpassed Oprah in 2018 as the wealthiest African American with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion. He’s the first African American Wall Street billionaire. And Smith is giving back, funding a Cornell engineering fellowship targeted at black and female students and backing the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
PATH TO POWER: Friedman was born in Baltimore and attended Williams College before earning her MBA from Vanderbilt. In 1993, she started her career at NASDAQ, where she worked until 2011, then joined the Carlyle Group as CFO. After assisting in the firm’s IPO, she rejoined NASDAQ in 2014, becoming president and COO.
POWER PLAY: Friedman was appointed CEO of NASDAQ in early 2017. She is the first woman to head a major exchange. Since Friedman took charge, NASDAQ has signed on to the Parity Pledge, meaning that NASDAQ guarantees it will interview at least one woman for each open senior-level position in a bid to boost diversity at the top ranks of finance. And in September, NASDAQ acquired Swedish financial technology firm Cinnober for $190 million, to maintain the exchange’s technological edge in a deeply competitive industry.
PATH TO POWER: A Wharton grad, Wolf launched his Wall Street career in fixed income at Salomon Brothers, later moving to UBS, where he quickly rose through the ranks to become, in 2007, chairman and CEO of UBS Group Americas. Early to recognize the looming financial crisis, Wolf made an early commitment to presidential candidate Barack Obama and left the bank in order to work more closely with Obama, who as president continued to seek Wolf’s counsel. (Wolf is now on the board of the Obama Foundation.) He also launched investment firm 32 Advisors, which has put money into ventures such as drone company Measure and media firm Endless Entertainment.
POWER PLAY: Wolf is an unusual figure, a successful banker who left Wall Street to engage with politics and has continued to occupy both spheres while retaining the respect of each. He is a businessman, an economic advisor and an investor who stakes out left-of-center positions but also appears as a regular commentator on Fox News. For those reasons, and because of his repu-tation as a diligent political fundraiser, he’s likely to be wooed by a line of presidential aspirants hoping he can do for them what he did for Obama: provide sound advice and Wall Street money.
PATH TO POWER: Patterson studied journalism at the University of Florida and began her career as a reporter for the Associated Press. She earned an MA in international relations at Johns Hopkins, an MBA at New York University and then embarked on a career in finance, rising to chief markets analyst at JP Morgan Asset Management before joining Bessemer Trust in 2012.
POWER PLAY: Bessemer Trust, with more than $120 billion in AUM, is one of the largest and most trusted players in the wealth management industry, quietly serving some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals and families. Bessemer is known for retaining its clients and assiduously protecting their money, something that ultimately depends on Patterson’s ability to assess risk and opportunity. Recently, she’s been issuing warnings about the risks of a trade war.
2017 RANKING: 98
PATH TO POWER: Brown grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, studied economics at SUNY Albany and worked for Lehman Brothers and the Treasury Department. After earning an MBA at Columbia Business School in 1998, she joined Morgan Stanley. Brown was part of the Obama administration’s transition team for the Treasury in 2008 and then rejoined the private sector, running diversity recruitment operations at Bank of America. She joined Bloomberg as the company’s first global head of diversity and inclusion in 2015. In July 2018, Brown joined Goldman Sachs as chief diversity officer.
POWER PLAY: In her new role, Brown becomes one of the most powerful women and African Americans on Wall Street. She is charged with boosting the legendary investment bank’s diversity on all fronts, a hot-button political issue as well as a competitive necessity. Globally, Goldman is in a push to achieve gender parity within its ranks by 2021, putting recruitment pressure squarely on Brown.
2017 RANKING: 85
PATH TO POWER: Born Warren Wilhelm Jr. in New York—he changed his name because his father was largely absent and he wanted to embrace his Italian roots—de Blasio pursued urban studies at NYU and international affairs at Columbia. He was a volunteer for Mayor Dinkins’ 1989 campaign and then became a mayoral aide. He ran Hillary Clinton’s senate campaign in 2000. De Blasio was elected city councillor in 2001, public advocate in 2010 and mayor in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Though many in New York don’t seem to like him much, de Blasio has become a leader in progressive politics, increasingly spending time boosting national campaigns and positioning himself as a bulwark of left-wing resistance to the Trump administration. In July, de Blasio created a federal PAC to fund his national political activities. But while de Blasio has scored some victories, his inability to work with Andrew Cuomo and the failure of ally Cynthia Nixon in her September Democratic primary run against Governor Cuomo have demonstrated fissures in the progressive movement he hopes to build.
PATH TO POWER: Hunt comes from a long line of British elites: His father was an admiral, he’s descended from one of the East India Company’s early leaders and he’s related to both Queen Elizabeth II and Oswald Mosley. He attended Oxford and then embarked on a career in Conservative Party politics, first entering Parliament in 2005. Since then he has served in high-level roles including secretary of state for health and social care and secretary of state for culture, media and sport.
POWER PLAY: Hunt took the job of secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs in July 2018, after Boris Johnson resigned the position. To land the post, he had to convince Theresa May that he had transformed his initial opposition to Brexit into mild support. He’s now one of the Brits in charge of extricating the UK from the European Union (along with handling a restive Russia and chaotic Trump administration), a tough position with many downsides.
2017 RANKING: 77
PATH TO POWER: Born in Lugano, Switzerland, Ermotti quit high school at 15 with dreams of becoming a professional soccer player and skier, but took an internship at a bank on a whim and discovered a passion for finance. He never attended college, but he did attain a Swiss banking diploma and studied in Oxford’s Advanced Management Program. Ermotti joined Citibank in 1985 at age 25, then went on to positions at Merrill Lynch and Italian bank UniCredit. He moved to UBS in 2010 and became CEO in 2011, charged with fixing what was then an ailing institution.
POWER PLAY: Thanks in large part to its reputation for discretion and sensitivity to clients’ needs, UBS is the world’s largest wealth manager with more than $2.4 trillion in AUM. Half the world’s billionaires are reported to be clients. But Ermotti is navigating some major transitions going forward. In a surprise move, his heir apparent, president of the investment bank division Andrea Orcel, will be joining Banco Santander in early 2019. Also in September, Ermotti announced UBS has chosen Frankfurt as its post-Brexit EU headquarters, assuming the UK will fall out of the EU without any concrete financial arrangements.
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Cambridge and Oxford and an attorney by training, Raab, a Conservative, was first elected to Parliament in 2010. With the ascendance of Theresa May as prime minister, he first took on the role of minister of state for courts and justice, then housing and planning.
POWER PLAY: Raab has perhaps the most thankless job in the United Kingdom. He’s the lead negotiator for the island nation’s departure from the EU, and he’s been dealt a weak hand: Movement on Brexit has been paralyzed for months and European banks are moving forward with expectations that the deadline for departure will arrive without any financial deals in place. Unless Raab can strengthen his position, there’s a distinct possibility that the UK may be headed for a “hard” Brexit, sacrificing much of its access to European markets with little to show for it.
2017 RANKING: 62
PATH TO POWER: Black has overcome family tragedy—his father committed suicide while Black was in business school at Harvard—to found one of the largest private equity firms in the world. He rose to prominence as head of M&A at the ill-fated Drexel Burnham Lambert, then, once it collapsed amid mismanagement and federal racketeering charges, teamed up with two of the firm’s junior employees to found Apollo in 1990.
POWER PLAY: At the end of 2017, Apollo had $248.9 billion in AUM. Black made $191.3 million in stock dividends alone. He raised one of the largest PE funds ever—$24.6 billion—in 2017, and then started making some big buys in 2018, including $2.6 billion for Aspen Insurance and $1.6 billion for nonperforming loans held by the troubled Bank of Cyprus.
2017 RANKING: 73
PATH TO POWER: An avid swimmer, Lagarde was a member of the French national synchronized swimming team as a teenager. After graduating high school, she lived in Maryland for a year, interning at the U.S. Capitol, before returning to France and earning two master’s degrees. She spent decades working for the international law firm Baker & McKenzie and then served as French trade minister from 2005 to 2007. Lagarde took charge of the IMF in 2011 after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York for assaulting a maid at the Sofitel.
POWER PLAY: Lagarde was reelected head of the IMF in 2016, thanks to her steady hand in the face of the global financial crisis and, in particular, the meltdown of the Greek economy. In 2018, Lagarde’s been using her position as a bit of a bully pulpit, arguing that a “Lehman Sisters” would not have made the mistakes that Lehman Brothers did, and repeatedly denying that she would succeed either Mario Draghi or Jean-Claude Juncker next year as head of the ECB or European Commission, respectively.
2017 RANKING: 21
PATH TO POWER: Icahn gained a reputation as take-no-prisoners corporate raider in the 1980s but worked to rebrand himself as a more statesman-like shareholder activist earlier in this century. More recently, the 82-year-old mega-billionaire was one of the first on Wall Street to back Donald Trump’s presidential bid, and for a short time was special advisor to the president for regulatory affairs.
POWER PLAY: The Queens native is no stranger to controversy. During the Trump transition, Icahn vetted EPA chief Scott Pruitt, then lobbied for changes to EPA renewable fuel rules that were hurting a refinery he owned. Accusations of conflicts of interest drew a subpoena from the Feds and led him to leave the post. Then, just days before Trump announced his steel and aluminum tariffs, Icahn sold stock in a company that would have been hurt by tariffs—raising accusations of insider trading, which he denied. But Icahn has also won in 2018. Driving his gains this year is a surge in the stock of Herbalife, the controversial multi-level-marketing company, where he is 20 percent owner.
PATH TO POWER: A Wharton graduate, Fitzpatrick joined O’Connor & Associates, a Chicago options trading firm, in 1992. When she first started, the predominantly male traders at the American Stock Exchange made wagers on how long she would last. She eventually became CIO at O’Connor (which was subsequently acquired by UBS), and in 2017 became CIO at $26 billion Soros Fund Management, making her one of the most influential voices in hedge funds.
POWER PLAY: Fitzpatrick has been busy making personnel and structural changes at Soros. In October she spun off the Soros family office’s $2 billion private equity group and pledged to invest at least an additional $2 billion in it. The ultimate goal: to move money away from the Soros family and into Soros foundations. Though it is rare for a woman to manage as large an amount of money as Fitzpatrick now does, she actually sees advantages in being a top woman on Wall Street. “One of the things I believe women have more of is humility in their investments,” she told the New York Times. “We’ll cut losers quicker, in a more effective way, than generally men will.”
PATH TO POWER: After graduating from Boston University in 2011 with a BA in economics, Bronx-born Ocasio-Cortez returned home, working two jobs as a bartender and waitress to help support her family, and became involved in nonprofit work at the National Hispanic Institute. She traveled the country to support progressive causes—rallying at Standing Rock against pipeline drilling and in Flint, Mich., for clean water initiatives—then volunteered as an organizer for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Post-election, she was contacted by the electorally focused group Brand New Congress and partner Justice Democrats and urged to run for elected office.
POWER PLAY: In June, the 28-year-old self-described democratic socialist scored one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 election season, defeating Democratic machine politician Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent known as the “King of Queens,” in New York’s 14th District primaries. A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Ocasio-Cortez refused to accept corporate funding but her grassroots campaign activated more than 8,000 individual donors using targeted online advertising, and her progressive rhetoric, door-to-door canvasing and aggressive social media use made her a sleeper success in the primary. Her win represents a newly restive socialist element on the left. Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on a platform of a federal jobs guarantee, Medicare for all and abolishing ICE. She likely can’t deliver on these promises—but she and other newly activist economic liberals are making once farfetched ideas mainstream.
2017 RANKING: 75
PATH TO POWER: Steyer was born in New York and studied at Yale and Stanford Business School. He worked at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs before founding hedge fund Farallon Capital in 1986. Steyer grew the firm to $20 billion—in part on coal investments—becoming a billionaire himself in the process. He left the firm in 2012, turning his attention to environmental philanthropy and liberal politics.
POWER PLAY: Steyer is working on two fronts: He’s funding efforts to make the economy greener, investing in clean energy and backing environmental research and advocacy efforts. And he’s trying to take down President Trump. Via his Need to Impeach campaign and various get-out-the-vote efforts—at an estimated $70 million in 2018—Steyer aims to stack Congress with Demo-cratic politicians who are willing to impeach the president.
PATH TO POWER: Loeffler has taken a circuitous route to becoming one of Wall Street’s top innovators. She studied business at the University of Illinois and earned her MBA at DePaul University before beginning her career in marketing at Toyota. Loeffler subsequently worked her way through Citi, William Blair and Crossroads Investment Advisors before joining Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, in 2002 as its head of investor relations (she is married to ICE chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher).
POWER PLAY: In August, ICE announced the creation of Bakkt, the world’s first federally regulated Bitcoin exchange, with Loeffler at the helm. If Bakkt succeeds, it will not only boost investor trust and access to Bitcoin as an asset, it will also give ICE a serious edge over the myriad other startups trying to corner this emerging market.
PATH TO POWER: The second daughter of conservative megadonor and former Renaissance Technologies chief executive Robert Mercer, Rebekah enjoys widespread influence on the American political right. And while her father is famously reclusive, Mercer is a leading socialite in conservative political circles. Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax and a friend to President Trump, has called Mercer the “First Lady of the alt-right.” She introduced Trump to strategist Kellyanne Conway and firebrand conservative political operative and then Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon, both of whom went on to jobs in the White House. And as director of the family foundation, Rebekah is the key decision maker when it comes to spending Mercer political funds.
POWER PLAY: In the early days of 2018, journalist Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury reported that Bannon had described a meeting between members of the Trump campaign—including the president’s son Don Jr.—and a Russian lawyer as “treasonous.” As the book’s release neared, Mercer told the press that her family no longer supported Bannon. But, she continued, “I have a minority interest in Breitbart News and I remain committed in my support for them.” That remark was an implicit threat. Days later, Bannon resigned his position at Breitbart; he has not managed to return from the wilderness to reclaim the same level of influence since.
2017 RANKING: 25
PATH TO POWER: It wasn’t easy for Robbins, who grew up in Glendora, Calif., in a single-parent home with an alcoholic and abusive mother. While working multiple jobs to support himself, he became a devotee of, then partners with, several early ’80s motivational speakers, then became one himself. But though Robbins became famous and wealthy from making infomercials, he’s grown and evolved. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, he’s focused on financial and retirement security. He published a best seller called Money: Master the Game in 2014 and followed that with Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook in 2017. He’s also become a successful investor, with stakes in, among other things, Major League Soccer, e-sports and the media. And he’s a major philanthropist, giving money to fund meals for the undernourished, clean water for people who lack it and efforts to fight child trafficking and slavery.
POWER PLAY: Robbins made a rare gaffe in 2018 when he engaged in a back-and-forth with a woman at one of his conferences that went viral, and not in a good way: Some saw it as bullying the woman and denigrating the #MeToo movement. But Robbins apologized quickly and the matter blew over; the people who like Robbins like him passionately and were quick to forgive. Meantime, Robbins has established himself as a player in the financial world. In 2017 he partnered with Creative Planning CEO Peter Mallouk, and the two form an effective team; Robbins drives referrals to Mallouk, for which he gets a commission, and he can speak with authority to an issue that has always mattered to him: how people can better their lives, including financially. For many of Robbins’ fans, the information he delivers—about advisor fees, fiduciary responsibility and how 401(k) fees can eat up retirement savings—is both new and essential. (Robbins has also partnered with a provider called America’s Best 401[k] to spread awareness about the issue.)
2017 RANKING: 67
PATH TO POWER: Erdoes grew up in a wealthy suburb on Chicago’s North Side, studied math at Georgetown and earned an MBA from Harvard. She’s spent her entire career in finance. Erdoes joined JP Morgan Asset Management in 1996 and became CEO of JP Morgan Private Bank in 2005. She took the top job at JP Morgan Asset Management in 2009.
POWER PLAY: Erdoes is one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, and because she is a potential heir to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, her pronouncements are watched closely on the Street. JP Morgan Asset Management hit $2 trillion in AUM in January 2018, all ultimately under her supervision. Recently, she’s been issuing warnings of higher volatility driven by global political turmoil and noting that investors may not fully understand the risk in many of the equities that they hold.
2017 RANKING: 66
PATH TO POWER: A Tennessean by birth, Jones studied economics and boxed at UVA before joining E.F. Hutton as a clerk and then a broker. He was accepted to Harvard Business School but, after deciding it couldn’t teach him anything useful for a career as a trader, chose not to attend. Instead, he started trading cotton futures on the NYSE and then launched his Greenwich, Conn.–based hedge fund in 1980.
POWER PLAY: While his investment acumen has made Jones a billionaire several times over—most famously when he shorted the market before 1987’s Black Monday crash—his biggest impact is as a philanthropist. Jones founded the Robin Hood Foundation, whose annual gala is a can’t-miss event on the New York social calendar and which provides millions of dollars to charities and social programs throughout the city. In 2018 Goldman Sachs launched a new ETF that uses the metrics produced by Just Capital, a foundation created by Jones to measure the social and environmental impact of companies. Investors poured more than $250 million into the JUST fund on its first day of trading, making it one of the most successful ETF launches in history.
PATH TO POWER: The grandson of a former head of the U.S. Communist Party, Browder earned an MBA from Stanford, and in the early 1990s worked at Salomon Brothers on its Russia investments before founding the hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management in Moscow in 1996. Hermitage’s shareholder activism eventually ran afoul of Vladimir Putin, and Browder fled to London. His Russian attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, was thrown in jail, where he died under harsh conditions. Browder has been seeking justice ever since. In honor of the slain lawyer, he convinced Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which has been used to seize assets of those connected to his death.
POWER PLAY: Browder has become one of the biggest thorns in Putin’s side—and appears to be a key reason Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election: Many of the Russians affected are Putin intimates, which probably means the seizures are hurting Putin himself. The now-infamous June 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russian representatives revolved around Russian hopes that the Trump administration would overturn the Magnitsky Act. That hasn’t happened. Instead, the Magnitsky Act has become part of a broader human rights movement called the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, and similar laws have been passed in numerous countries.
2017 RANKING: 50
PATH TO POWER: Warren’s family was middle class, but just barely, and her childhood in Norman, Okla., was not easy. Her father had a heart attack when she was 12 and was forced to leave the workforce. She started waiting tables when she was 13. Warren studied speech pathology at the University of Houston and earned her JD at Rutgers before embarking on a career in academia. Specializing in bankruptcy law, she taught at UT Austin, Penn and Harvard. Warren rose to public prominence in 2008 when she chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel and reviewed the government’s response to the financial crisis, then became the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). She won election to the U.S. Senate in 2012.
POWER PLAY: The past year has been a mixed bag for Warren. Considered a leading voice on the left, she’s helped speak for it after Hillary Clinton’s 2016 defeat, and she has strongly hinted that she intends to run for president in 2020. At the same time, her defining achievement, the CFPB, has been gutted by the Trump administration.
2017 RANKING: 70
PATH TO POWER: Born into a politically connected family in Ivory Coast, Thiam studied math and physics before earning his MBA from INSEAD in France and joining McKinsey in 1986. After almost a decade as a consultant, he served in the Ivorian government until a 1999 coup. He returned to business, becoming CFO of Prudential in 2008 and CEO of Credit Suisse in 2015.
POWER PLAY: Credit Suisse struggled in recent years, but since taking the helm, Thiam has righted the ship. In July the bank reported that it had doubled second-quarter profits compared with the previous year and was on track to be profitable on an annual basis, the first time since 2014. The rising profits stem from Thiam’s 2015 decision to expand the bank’s wealth management unit and shift away from investment banking activities.
2017 RANKING: 71
PATH TO POWER:The scion of a prominent Democratic political family in Albany, N.Y., Gillibrand attended the tony Emma Willard School in Troy, N.Y., then earned a BA in Asian studies at Dartmouth, studying in Beijing and Taiwan. She studied law at UCLA and began her career at Davis Polk & Wardwell, later serving as a defense attorney for Philip Morris. After working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Senate, she joined the U.S. Congress in 2007 and was appointed to Clinton’s Senate seat in 2009 following Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state.
POWER PLAY: Gillibrand has worked on key financial legislation, including the STOCK Act, which limited the ability of members of Congress to engage in insider trading, and the FAMILY Act, which expanded paid family leave. More moderate than Elizabeth Warren but similarly vocal in her opposition to Donald Trump, she’s also positioned herself to be a contender for the presidency in 2020. Yet her successful efforts to remove Al Franken from the Senate over alleged sexual misconduct may hurt her with some Democrats, while her past as a tobacco attorney could undermine her populist credentials.
PATH TO POWER: As a child, Erdogan used to sell lemonade and sesame buns on the streets of Istanbul for pocket change. He studied business in college and joined a Turkish anti-communist youth political movement. He became mayor of Istanbul in 1994, was imprisoned for four months in 1998 for violating Turkish laws governing religious speech, and then reemerged as prime minister in 2003, an office that he held until 2014. Erdogan won the presidency in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Erdogan has presided over a nationalist and Islamist turn in Turkish politics, consolidating power, eliminating rivals and cracking down on opposition and the press. By allowing refugees to press through Turkey into the EU, he is indirectly responsible for much of Europe’s current political chaos, and he has used immigration as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the bloc. In 2018, however, the value of the Turkish lira plummeted over the summer, sending prices of consumer goods and staples surging and worries of contagion rippling through global markets.
2017 RANKING: 61
PATH TO POWER: Dalio grew up in Queens, the son of a jazz musician father and homemaker mother, then attended Long Island University and earned a Harvard MBA. After a handful of Wall Street jobs, mostly trading commodities, Dalio founded Bridgewater in 1975. Some four decades later, it’s the world’s largest hedge fund, with about $160 billion in assets, and billionaire Dalio is one of the world’s wealthiest people.
POWER PLAY: In recent years Dalio has shifted his emphasis from the creation of wealth—he claims to have stepped back from daily operations at Bridgewater—to the dissemination of knowledge. He released Principles, a book detailing his mantras of life and work, in 2017, and this year published A Template for Understanding Big Debt Crises, an attempt to fend off destabilizing financial crises. Both books represent Dalio’s effort to download a lifetime of learning onto a collective cultural hard drive, and he’s had impressive success doing it: Whether through print, broadcast or digital media, Dalio is ubiquitous.
2017 RANKING: 64
PATH TO POWER: A pioneer in private equity, Kravis founded KKR with Jerome Kohlberg and George Roberts in 1976. The firm would repeatedly push the frontiers of private equity, becoming the first major U.S. firm to list shares in Europe in 2006. A native of Oklahoma, Kravis graduated from Claremont McKenna College and got an MBA from Columbia Business School.
POWER PLAY: In May, KKR announced it would be converting from a partnership to a corporation this year, a bold move aimed at taking advantage of the new tax law, passed by Congress in December 2017, which reduced corporate income taxes. The move would also, in theory, allow the firm access to new investors. By July, with the firm posting strong second-quarter results—profit rose 46 percent, assets under management expanded 8.5 percent to $191.3 billion and the price of KKR stock rose by 29 percent since May—it was clear that the move had paid off.
2017 RANKING: 93
PATH TO POWER: A Bulgarian national, Georgieva began her career in economic policy in 1993 at the World Bank, becoming vice president and corporate secretary in 2007 and playing a key role in the World Bank’s capital increase and reform responses to the 2008 international financial crisis. In 2010, Georgieva joined the European Commission where, as vice president for budget and human resources, she tripled available funding during the refugee crisis in Europe, led reforms to increase the number of women in management positions at the commission and managed the European Union’s 33,000-person staff and $175 billion (now nearly $188 billion) budget. In 2017, Georgieva returned to the World Bank in the newly created position of CEO.
POWER PLAY: Georgieva now holds a position without precedent. After enacting significant internal reforms and challenging the organization with new goals like seeing women in 50 percent of senior management positions by 2020, Georgieva’s leadership has already begun to show results. In her first year as CEO, she led the bank to a $13 billion capital increase, its first rise since 2010 and the largest in the organization’s history. The deal includes lending reforms and increasing borrowing costs for high-and middle-income countries and is a sign of Georgieva’s ambitions for the bank in the coming years.
2017 RANKING: 84
PATH TO POWER: The former mayor of Burlington, Vt., grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y, and first ran for office in 1972. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1990 and to the Senate in 2006. His campaign for the presidency as a Democrat in 2016 attracted passionate support from young voters but created a bitter rift in the party between those who welcomed his candidacy and those who felt he undermined Hillary Clinton. Many Sanders supporters, however, maintain that the outcome of the 2016 election would have been different had their candidate been on the ballot in November.
POWER PLAY: Sanders has had a busy year, including campaigning against corporations such as Disney and Amazon, which he accuses of mistreating workers. But he has been most visible on the campaign trail. While several high-profile Sanders-endorsed candidates initially fell flat, a series of surprise, media-grabbing wins in the summer of 2018, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional primary victory in New York and Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial primary victory in Florida, reinvigorated his oft-repeated call for a political “movement” to push the Democratic Party left and challenge President Trump. And with 2020 looming ever closer, Sanders has built a robust digital operation that he plans to put to use, either backing himself or another presidential contender. As of now, Sanders, who will be 79 on Election Day in 2020, is widely expected to run.
2017 RANKING: 57
PATH TO POWER: A hydraulic engineer by training, Liu, who also has an economics PhD, entered finance through a position at the China Construction Bank. He moved to the People’s Bank of China in 1996 and advanced to become deputy governor of the central bank in 2006. In 2014 he was appointed Communist Party secretary of the Agricultural Bank of China, then became China’s top securities regulator in 2016.
POWER PLAY: When Liu took charge of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, he initially presided over a period of relative stability in the market. That changed in 2018, and by September, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index had plummeted 20 percent to its lowest level in almost four years. The causes range from the steadily advancing trade war with the United States to growing debt burdens at Chinese companies.
2017 RANKING: 56
PATH TO POWER: Although born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim grew up in Muscatine, Iowa—his father was a professor of dentistry at the University of Iowa. Kim studied biology at Brown and earned an MD and a PhD in anthropology from Harvard. He cofounded Partners In Health, which provided community health services in Haiti, and then went on to positions with the World Health Organization, Harvard and Dartmouth before taking the helm of the World Bank in 2012. He was reelected to a second five-year term in 2016.
POWER PLAY: The World Bank’s explicit mission is to eradicate poverty, but it has struggled in recent years to play a significant role on the world stage. Kim aims to boost the bank’s influence, in part by embracing the habits and strategies of Wall Street. In 2016 he appointed the World Bank’s first-ever CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, to reinvent the day-to-day management of the institution. And he’s reaching beyond the bank’s traditional financing base—governments such as the United States—to raise money from sovereign wealth funds, insurance companies and private equity firms interested in projects in the developing world.
2017 RANKING: 65
PATH TO POWER: Brainard’s parents were American expats, and she was born in Hamburg, West Germany, and spent her childhood in Communist Poland. But she attended Harvard, where she earned a master’s and PhD in economics. Brainard taught economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management and worked as an economic advisor in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. She joined the Fed in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Brainard is a key voice on the Board of Governors, which makes decisions about monetary policy. While it can’t be said that she decides when the Fed will raise rates, she’s thought by many to be the most important consensus builder, and the Board of Governor’s decisions tend to follow her lead. In 2018, she’s been pushing gradual rate increases while warning that if inflation accelerates, the pace of rate hikes may also speed up.
2017 RANKING: 59
PATH TO POWER: A Brit, Lake studied physics at the University of Reading and then went to work for consulting firm PwC, where she remained for eight years. Lake then joined JPMorgan Chase as CFO for European credit trading, then ascended the ranks. She was appointed CFO of the entire bank in 2012 in the wake of the London Whale scandal.
POWER PLAY: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon announced in January 2018 that he would continue in that role for another five years, setting off a slow-moving competition to succeed him. Chatter on the Street, and within the bank itself, suggests that Lake is the front-runner.
PATH TO POWER: A New York native, Klarman grew up in Baltimore and was investing in stocks by the age of 10. He studied economics at Cornell University, then went to Harvard for his MBA, after which he helped create the Baupost Group with two Harvard professors. A disciple of Benjamin Graham’s value investing, Klarman wrote his own investment tract, Margin of Safety, a must-read for value investors that is so coveted it now goes for about $1,700 on Amazon.
POWER PLAY: Soon after Donald Trump’s 2016 election, Klarman became one of the president’s most vociferous critics in the finance community, calling him a “threat to democracy” in a speech at a Robin Hood event last year. While previously a backer primarily of Republicans, he gave heavily to Democrats in the midterm congressional elections, predicting in September that his contributions would hit $18 million to $20 million by Election Day. Meanwhile, Klarman came under attack from social activists for working through a shell company to cloak his purchase of distressed Puerto Rico bonds, which defaulted last year. They’ve bounced back this year, boosting his returns.
2017 RANKING: 58
PATH TO POWER: Cuomo, the 56th governor of New York, won the seat in 2010. His father, Mario, had been New York’s governor from 1983 to 1994, but Andrew didn’t just fall into the job. A graduate of Fordham University and Albany Law, he paid his dues, first as assistant secretary and then secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Clinton, and then as New York attorney general.
POWER PLAY: Cuomo is in an unusually influential position. He’s the head of a state that houses the core of the financial industry and can impact Wall Street through everything from regulations to taxes. As governor he’s led on various Democratic priorities, including raising the minimum wage and creating the Excelsior Scholarship, which provides free state college tuition to students in need. He fought against the Republican tax plan, particularly the $10,000 limit on deductions of state and local income taxes, joining three other states in suing the federal government over the issue in July. And as he pursues a third term, he resoundingly defeated progressive primary challenger and former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon.
2017 RANKING: 55
PATH TO POWER: Born in Bristol, Conn., Corbat studied economics and played football at Harvard. He has spent nearly his entire professional life in the Citigroup universe, beginning at Salomon Brothers, which Citi acquired in 1998. He went on to run Citi’s global corporate bank, commercial bank and wealth management unit. Corbat became CEO in 2012.
POWER PLAY: Citi was hammered in the financial crisis, and Corbat’s main job for the past six years has been stabilizing its foundations and building board and public confidence. He’s been successful: In 2016, Citi was the only major U.S. bank to get a pass from regulators on its “living will.” The board likes Corbat’s performance; current chairman Michael O’Neill said in April that he would consider Corbat to succeed him in that role.
PATH TO POWER: The daughter of Lutheran rectors, Vestager grew up on the coast of Denmark and first ran for office, to be a member of parliament, in 1989 at the age of 21. She didn’t win that race, but quickly became a rising star in the country’s Social Liberal Party; by 2007, she was the party’s leader, then, in 2011, the country’s deputy prime minister. Vestager stepped into her role facilitating competition within the EU in 2014. Her office oversees all commercial activity, making her one of the most powerful politicians in Europe. As a regulator, she is said to be polite but firm in dealing with the world’s most powerful business leaders, whom she likes to meet with in person. When Apple CEO Tim Cook arrived in her office in 2016 to discuss the company’s tax arrangement in Ireland, he tried to intimidate Vestager, interrupting and lecturing, reported the Guardian. It didn’t work: Later that year, she announced that Apple had an illegal tax setup and handed the company a bill for €13 billion in back taxes.
POWER PLAY: Vestager is using her position to pursue U.S. companies. In 2018, the EU slapped Google with a $5.1 billion fine; it was one of the largest regulatory blows a government ever dealt to a tech company, and Vestager was the person behind it. The fine came for a violation of the EU’s antitrust laws; the government said Google promotes its other services through its free-to-use Android phone software, maintaining a dominant position in search and thwarting competitors like Apple, Facebook and Amazon (companies that Vestager is also pursuing other, unrelated cases against). In addition to the fine, Vestager ordered the company to change its practices.
PATH TO POWER: Son was born to Korean parents on the Japanese island of Kyushu. At 16, he scored a chance meeting with the president of McDonald’s Japan, who recommended that he study computers and English if he wanted to pursue a career in business. Taking the advice to heart, Son studied computer science and economics at Berkeley, along the way inventing a digital translator (with his professors), which he sold to Sharp for $1.7 million. He graduated in 1980, founded Tokyo-based SoftBank in 1981 and over the decades turned it into one of the world’s biggest tech investors.
POWER PLAY: Son has made a name for himself by making intelligent bets such as early investments in Alibaba and the acquisition of a majority share of Sprint. He’s also known for making the kind of exorbitant offers for companies that contribute to the creation of bubbles. Either way, he plots his own course. Fond of quoting Yoda, he has a 300-year plan for his company, bought 15 percent of Uber last year and has raised a $93 billion “Vision Fund,” the biggest tech-investment fund in the world, from the likes of Apple and a Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
PATH TO POWER: Kudlow’s first foray into politics came in the late 1960s, when he became a prominent anti–Vietnam War activist with the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society. After studying politics and economics at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, he stopped briefly at the New York Federal Reserve, then launched a multi-decade career on Wall Street that led to an advisory role in the Reagan administration—his politics had changed over the course of two decades—and his most recent gig as a CNBC pundit. When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, Kudlow became an early supporter and campaign advisor, a move that would later land him a pivotal position in the administration.
POWER PLAY: After former Goldman Sachs exec Gary Cohn quit the White House in March over policy disagreements, Trump decided to go in a different direction. In Kudlow, Trump picked another free-trader with whom he didn’t always see eye to eye. But Kudlow had proven himself an ally who had toed the party line to audiences worldwide through appearances on the presi-dent’s favorite medium, cable news. Kudlow’s willingness to make the president’s preferred arguments—even when they fly in the face of the traditional, Republican-embraced, free-market economics Kudlow had touted for decades—is key to his success. And the trade-warring president, with Kudlow at his side, has won some victories, including a pledge from China to cut tariffs on car imports from 25 percent to 15 percent.
2017 RANKING: 49
PATH TO POWER: The Botín family has led Banco Santander, Spain’s largest bank, for four generations. After studying economics at Bryn Mawr and Harvard and a brief stint at JPMorgan, Botín followed suit. Serving in various senior executive roles, she led an expansion of both the Latin America and UK units, then took over as chair of the Santander Group in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Since Santander acquired the failing Banco Popular in June 2017 for the symbolic price of 1 euro at the behest of an EU regulator, Botín has led the bank to steady growth, despite intense competition and uncertainty in its UK and Spanish markets. The addition of Banco Popular made Spain Santander’s second-largest market, and the bank has benefitted from the continuing rebound of the housing market there. Santander’s greatest success this year came from loan growth in Brazil, the bank’s largest market and the source of over a quarter of its profits, beating market expectations. As eurozone banks face rising pressures and shrinking lending margins, it is no small feat that Santander has kept a stable financial profile as one of the world’s largest and most diversified banks.
2017 RANKING: 37
PATH TO POWER: A decade ago, Cohen was the unofficial kingpin of hedge funds, but then Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara’s insider trading dragnet resulted in a guilty plea by his firm, Stamford, Conn.–based SAC Capital, which paid a $1.8 billion fine. Cohen, now 62, was never charged, but he was forced to wind down SAC in 2013 and limited to investing his personal fortune, estimated to be $13 billion, while an SEC complaint that he failed to supervise his employees was adjudicated.
POWER PLAY: After settling with the SEC last year, the restrictions on managing money were lifted, and Cohen raised $4 billion from investors for a new hedge fund, Point72 Asset Management. That is a remarkable feat. But Cohen’s return to hedge funds has been rocky, as it has been marked by a #MeToo scandal—a gender discrimination lawsuit whose sordid details led the firm’s new president Douglas Haynes to quit. Earlier this year, UK regulators said Cohen could not operate his hedge fund in that country.
2017 RANKING: 54
PATH TO POWER: Johnson was born into wealth—her grandfather, Edward Johnson II, founded Fidelity in 1946—but no one would ever say that she’s coasted on her good fortune. After college at Hobart and William Smith, then a Harvard MBA, she joined Fidelity as an analyst and portfolio manager in 1988. She steadily worked her way up through the firm, and was named president in 2012 and CEO in 2014. With a reported net worth of over $15 billion, Johnson is also one of the world’s richest people.
POWER PLAY: Fidelity had an impressive year in 2017: Its assets under administration (Fidelity is the country’s largest administrator of retirement funds) grew to $6.8 trillion, a 20 percent increase from 2016. Operating profit for the year rose 54 percent, to $5.3 billion. The good news comes despite challenges. Fidelity for years resisted offering low-cost ETFs and robo-advisory services in an effort to avoid competing in low-margin businesses. It’s more recently pivoted, and this summer announced that it would offer several mutual funds with no fees whatsoever. Fidelity has also made some unexpected moves into the Bitcoin world, announcing that it would store and trade Bitcoin for professional investors, a watershed legitimizing move for cryptocurrency.
2017 RANKING: 46
PATH TO POWER: Kuroda studied law before joining the Japanese Ministry of Finance, which provided a scholarship for him to study economics at Oxford. He spent decades at the ministry, and became vice minister in 1999, after which he went on to positions in the cabinet and as president of the Asian Development Bank. He took charge of the Bank of Japan in 2013.
POWER PLAY: The Japanese economy was in the dumps when Kuroda took the helm of the central bank. It’s still not in great shape, but he and prime minister Shinzo Abe have been making progress against deflation, with Kuroda presiding over a long-running buying spree of bonds and stocks—2 percent of the Japanese market—by the Bank of Japan. In a statement of confidence, Abe reappointed Kuroda in February for another five-year term.
PATH TO POWER: Nobody knows who the creator of Bitcoin is: Nakamoto could be a man or a woman or a group of people, Japanese, American, Australian or European—or just about anywhere else. Nakamoto claims to be 43 years old and to hail from Japan, but these “facts” could be simple misdirection. An Australian computer scientist, Craig Wright, has claimed to be Naka-moto, but there’s little consensus within the crypto community. What is known, however, is that Nakamoto wrote the code underpinning Bitcoin in 2007, which went live in 2009, providing the basis for every development in cryptocurrency and block-chain since.
POWER PLAY: The price of Bitcoin is highly volatile, surging to almost $20,000 in December 2017 then plummeting to around $6,800 by September 2018. Nakamoto is believed to control 980,000 bitcoins—roughly 5 percent of all of the Bitcoin that can ever be mined—giving him a net worth of $19.4 billion at the currency’s high point. It’s also enough of the cryptocurrency to allow Nakamoto to flood the market and tank Bitcoin’s value if he decides to cash out—either for profit or to prove some kind of philosophical point—however unlikely that might be.
PATH TO POWER: After majoring in political science and economics at Penn, Powell Jobs worked at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs before pursuing her MBA at Stanford. She met Apple CEO Steve Jobs when he delivered a guest lecture there in 1989. The two fell in love and were married in a Buddhist ceremony at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite in 1991. They had three children, and when Jobs passed away in 2011, Powell Jobs inherited his fortune. She has an estimated net worth of well over $20 billion.
POWER PLAY: Powell Jobs says that she is trying to reinvent philanthropy through the Emerson Collective. One big difference between her approach and traditional philanthropic efforts? Emerson Collective—it’s named after Ralph Waldo—is an LLC, rather than a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation, that makes a combination of traditional grants and impact investments around issues ranging from education to immigration to the environment. Whether Emerson Collective can deliver better results than traditional foundations is a question. But if it succeeds, Powell Jobs could transform the way the world’s wealthy give back.
PATH TO POWER: Sprecher studied chemical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and earned an MBA from Pepperdine in 1984. He began radically changing the world of finance when he acquired the debt-laden Atlanta-based Continental Power Exchange for $1. He took the troubled electricity exchange and turned it into a digital competitor to Enron, making it the first piece of what would eventually become Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the publicly traded company that owns some of the world’s biggest exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange.
POWER PLAY: In 2017, ICE revenue rose 3 percent over the previous year, to some $4.6 billion. Continued growth and success for ICE means constantly finding new marketplaces or enhancing the technology underpinning existing ones. In 2018, the company launched Bakkt, headed by Sprecher’s wife, Kelly Loeffler, with the goal of becoming the biggest and most trusted, fully regulated Bitcoin exchange.
2017 RANKING: 44
PATH TO POWER: The sixth of eight children born into an Irish Catholic family in Ohio, Moynihan studied history at Brown and played rugby before earning a JD at Notre Dame. He worked in corporate law in Providence, R.I., then entered the financial world as general counsel at Fleet-Boston in 1993. When the bank was acquired by Bank of America in 2004, Moynihan stayed on, becoming CEO of Merrill Lynch when it was absorbed in 2008. He took charge of Bank of America in 2010 and added chairman to his resume in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Bank of America went through massive downsizing of people and branches and was forced to pay $17 billion in fines during the financial crisis. But Moynihan fought through those challenges and cemented his reputation in the first quarter of 2018, when the bank reported quarterly profits of $6.9 billion, its best quarter in its more than 100 years of operation. Still, BoA’s investment banking unit is struggling. While competitors have seen an average 50 percent increase for the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2010, BoA investment banking revenue is basically flat.
PATH TO POWER: California native Newsom began his post-college life as an entrepreneur, opening a wine shop that later morphed into the powerhouse PlumpJack Group. But he’s better known for his political career, starting at low levels of San Francisco politics, then winning two terms as mayor of that city before serving two terms as lieutenant governor under Jerry Brown. He won the Democratic primary in this year’s California gubernatorial race and, as of this writing, was expected to convincingly beat his opponent, GOP businessman John Cox.
POWER PLAY: The governor of California may be the most powerful elected official in the country other than the president—so if Newsom has won this office by the time you read this, he should be higher on this list. California is the world’s fifth-largest economy, behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany. Its economic engines include Hollywood, manufacturing, tourism, tech and agriculture ranging from avocados to wine. Naturally, the person who oversees the regulation and promotion of those industries—who helps determine, for example, what gas mileage cars registered in California are required to have, or how much carbon California factories are permitted to discharge—has enormous impact. On these and other issues, Newsom has committed his state to positions that conflict utterly with the Trump White House but could shape the economy of both the country and the world.
2017 RANKING: 42
PATH TO POWER: Buckley earned his MBA from Harvard before joining Vanguard in 1991 as an assistant to the company’s founder, John Bogle. He rose through the company’s ranks, and in 2017 the board unanimously voted to make him the head of the world’s second-largest investment manager—as of the start of 2018, Vanguard had $5 trillion in AUM, 17,000 employees and was arguably more of a household name than the top asset manager, BlackRock.
POWER PLAY: Key to Vanguard’s brand is the loyalty of its more than 20 million customers. Upon taking over the firm in January 2018, Buckley announced plans to revamp how customers interact with the company—almost all of them do so via an online portal or over the phone. The news was welcomed by customers increasingly frustrated with glitches on the Vanguard website. But his real challenge will be competitor Fidelity’s new zero-fee index funds. One response so far: free trades on some 1,800 ETFs.
2017 RANKING: 47
PATH TO POWER: The mild-mannered son of a carpenter, Tusk has been head of the European Council since 2014 and has played a key role in steering the EU through mounting challenges as the political order in both Europe and the world beyond has lurched through a series of disorienting changes in a few short years. Before helming the EU body that forges consensus among European leaders, Tusk was a star Polish politician. In 2001, he cofounded the centrist Civic Platform party, and he later served as Polish prime minister from 2007 to 2014. During that time, he steered the country through the international financial crisis and, in campaigning against his party’s chief rival, the conservative Law and Justice party, became intimately familiar with the right-wing populist attacks on European democracy that came in the wake of the crisis.
POWER PLAY: In May, after President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, Tusk said, “I have no doubt that in the new global game, Europe will either be one of the major players, or a pawn.” He is doing what he can to make sure it is the former. On the same July day that Trump held a joint press conference with Vladimir Putin, ending a tour of Europe in which Trump declared Europe a trade “foe,” Tusk was in Beijing meeting with top Chinese officials. Negotiators emerged with a joint commitment to enhance market access and investment. The following day, in Japan, Tusk announced the biggest trade agreement in history, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which in part emerged from the ruins of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and encompasses a third of the world’s economy.
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of New York University, where he received both a BS and an MBA, Sussman founded hedge fund Paloma Partners in 1981, which makes it one of the oldest surviving hedge funds. His claim to hedge fund fame is in recognizing new talent and staking some of the early hedge funds. He was the original seed backer of D.E. Shaw, the first quantitative hedge fund, which has gone on to become one of the world’s largest and most well-known. He also invested early on in Paul Singer’s Elliott Management and Nassim Taleb’s Empirica Capital.
POWER PLAY: While he still runs Paloma Partners from Greenwich, Conn., Sussman has emerged as a top donor to Democratic Party politicians and liberal causes during this year’s pivotal midterm Congressional elections—behind only political activist Tom Steyer. So far Sussman has given $21,239,900 to Democrats and liberal groups—almost as much as he gave to Hillary Clinton during her ill-fated 2016 presidential bid, when he was her top individual supporter. Known also for his philanthropy, Sussman is a member of the board of trustees of Carnegie Hall, a member of the board of directors of ProPublica, which publishes investigative journalism, and an honorary trustee of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
2017 RANKING: 93
PATH TO POWER: Griffin famously started trading convertible bonds from his Harvard dorm room, then founded Citadel in Chicago in 1990, a year after he graduated, with a $1 million investment from Glenwood Capital’s Frank Meyer. After his firm faced a near-death experience during the financial crisis of 2008, Citadel has thrived to become a $27 billion hedge fund empire, one of the largest in the world.
POWER PLAY: Now worth $10 billion, Griffin is the richest person in Illinois. In 2017, he earned $1.5 billion as Citadel’s funds earned double-digit returns, and in 2018 he has continued to rack up big gains, up 11 percent through August. Last year, he gave $125 million to the University of Chicago, which is renaming his economics department after him. Griffin is also a big donor to Republicans, giving more than $8 million for the midterm Congressional races.
2017 RANKING: 29
PATH TO POWER: Singer, who grew up in Teaneck, N.J., received a JD from Harvard Law School in 1969 but never practiced law. After a brief stint at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, he started his hedge fund, Elliott Management, in 1977. Early losses made Singer risk averse, which has helped Elliott outlast many of its peers. It is now one of the oldest hedge funds in the U.S., and has $34.4 billion in assets.
POWER PLAY: After winning his 15-year legal battle with Argentina in 2016, Singer went on to use the scorched-earth tactics honed in sovereign debt and bankruptcy battles to become a feared shareholder activist. His tactics continue to be controversial, with CEOs he has attacked reportedly forming a support group. Singer has been a top Republican financier for years and is the chairman of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.
2017 RANKING: 27
PATH TO POWER: Schwarzman attended Yale and, after a stint in the National Guard, earned an MBA at Harvard. He entered investment banking and became a managing director at Lehman Brothers at just 31 years old. Then, with his old boss Peter Peterson, Schwarzman founded Blackstone in 1985. He’s grown Blackstone into one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, taking it public in 2007.
POWER PLAY: Schwarzman personally made $786 million in 2017, one of the largest sums ever earned by the chief executive of a public company, but it’s his relationship with Donald Trump that has drawn the most scrutiny in the past year. A longtime friend of the president, Schwarzman chaired Trump’s short-lived Strategic and Policy Forum and has maintained his influence in the West Wing even after the forum’s dismantling in mid-2017. The Blackstone CEO, who has substantial business dealings in China, has thus far dissuaded Trump from labeling the country a “currency manipulator,” although Schwarzman’s ability to restrain the president may be weakening.
2017 RANKING: 20
PATH TO POWER: The Oracle of Omaha started studying the fundamentals of investing as a child, even as he sold newspapers door to door. He studied at the University of Nebraska and at Columbia under his childhood hero Benjamin Graham. After pursuing a series of smart investments in undervalued companies, Buffett took control of the textile company Berkshire Hathaway in 1962. Almost six decades and a myriad of investments later, Buffett, with a personal net worth of $84.6 billion, may be the greatest value investor of all time. He’s also a leader in philanthropy, having cocreated the Giving Pledge, which commits signees to give away the majority of their wealth.
POWER PLAY: In recent years, Buffett has been pushing for executives at public companies to stop issuing forward earnings guidance on the belief that it may cause them to make bad long-term decisions in order to achieve short-term earnings, and other prominent financial figures, including Larry Fink and Jamie Dimon, followed suit. In August, President Trump joined in, encouraging companies to shift to six-month projections. And midyear data from S&P showed that companies may finally be getting on board: Just 98 companies issued quarterly guidance in the third quarter of 2018, compared to an average of 107 over the past five years.
2017 RANKING: 43
PATH TO POWER: Clayton grew up near Hershey, Penn., where his dad worked at the local chocolate factory. He studied engineering at Penn, then received a second BA and a master’s in economics at Cambridge, followed by a JD from Penn. After several years as a judicial clerk, Clayton joined Sullivan & Cromwell in 1995, becoming a partner in 2001. He was appointed chair of the SEC in 2017.
POWER PLAY: In 2018, the SEC levied millions in fines against Wells Fargo, Moody’s and Citigroup, among others. Clayton’s organization also quickly took action against that infamous texter Elon Musk, fining Musk and Tesla $40 million and forcing Musk to step down as chairman after his ill-advised “funding secured” tweet.
PATH TO POWER: Obrador grew up in Tabasco and studied political science at the left-leaning, and highly selective, National Autonomous University of Mexico. He then returned to Tabasco and entered local politics through the PRI, long the dominant party in Mexico. Obrador left the PRI in 1988 to join a left-wing splinter party, the PRD. He was elected mayor of Mexico City in 2000 and has built a national profile as an anti-corruption crusader.
POWER PLAY: Obrador was elected president in July by the largest margin in 40 years, with 53 percent of the vote. His win broke the PRI’s hold on the Mexican presidency. His coalition party, MORENA, bridges left-wing and right-wing parties, and won a majority in both houses of Congress. Expectations are high for Obrador and for Mexico. He will enter office during a period of high tension with the U.S. and ongoing debate over trade agreements, and his leftist roots may mean that the Mexican government will take a bigger role in combating poverty both domestically and throughout Latin America.
2017 RANKING: 30
PATH TO POWER: Born in Bermuda, Duperreault grew up in New Jersey and studied math at St. Joseph’s University. He’s spent 40 years at various major players in the insurance industry, including a stint at AIG in his 20s. He took the reins of the company in 2017.
POWER PLAY: AIG has recovered from the self-inflicted damage it endured during the financial crisis, and Duperreault’s job is to maintain its edge in a fiercely competitive industry. To do so, he’s giving leaders of individual units greater leeway to make decisions and is on the hunt for acquisitions as a pathway toward growth and greater profitability. Most important, he’s putting a renewed focus on risk management and eliminating underperforming or money-losing accounts.
PATH TO POWER: The son of a teacher and a real estate developer in Charlotte, N.C., Mulvaney studied economics at Georgetown. He attended law school on a full scholarship at the University of North Carolina and then practiced law and worked for the family real estate company. Mulvaney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2006, then the State Senate in 2008. He entered national politics as a congressman in 2010 and as a Tea Party favorite. In 2016 and 2017 he was appointed director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, respectively.
POWER PLAY: Mulvaney’s tenure at the CFPB has been defined by infighting over everything from whether he’s even allowed to hold the office to his overarching goal of emasculating the bureau. As head of the CFPB he’s stopped collection of some fines, ended rulemaking and hiring and has put investigations under administrative review. And he’s recommended to Congress that the bureau essentially lose its independence, making its rules subject to approval by the governing body and making the director removable by the president without cause.
2017 RANKING: 40
PATH TO POWER: A former law professor and founder of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, Rao was confirmed in 2017 to lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is housed within the Office of Management and Budget. The little-known agency often gets a chance to suggest the final tweaks to regulations before they go on the books which often determine how the law is applied in practice. Rao attended Yale and earned a law degree from the University of Chicago before clerking for justice Clarence Thomas, working as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee under Republican senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and serving in the Bush administration.
POWER PLAY: Under the Trump administration, OIRA’s authorities have expanded—in April, it was given the chance to comment on tax rules—and academic studies suggest the office has had far more input on regulations than it did under previous admin-istrations. Rao’s office has paid special attention, she told a Brookings Institution audience this year, to whether rules written by agencies are “promoting presidential priorities.” One hugely important example: Under her office’s new, expanded power, Rao had the final sign-off on the implementation of the Republican tax law passed at the end of last year.
2017 RANKING: 35
PATH TO POWER: After studying economics at England’s Trinity College, Cambridge, Masters entered finance, joining J.P. Morgan in 1991. She tore through the bank’s ranks, becoming at age 28 the youngest managing director in its history. She became CFO of J.P. Morgan Investment Bank in 2004 and head of global commodities in 2007, inventing the credit default swap along the way. In 2015 Masters joined Digital Asset Holdings, a blockchain startup, as CEO.
POWER PLAY: The blockchain and cryptocurrency space is extremely competitive and filled with hustlers and wannabes. Despite the noise, Masters has strategically positioned Digital Asset to win by focusing on core banking services. Digital Asset aims to improve not just the speed but also the reliability with which transactions are completed using distributed ledger technology, and it’s already put its tools to work on the Australian Securities Exchange. Signaling Masters’ industry-spanning intentions, Digital Asset joined forces with Google Cloud in July to provide a suite of programming tools and a software development kit to engineers working with its blockchain technology.
PATH TO POWER: Miller grew up in Santa Monica, Calif., and started to become an outspoken and activist conservative while in high school there. He pursued a similar path during college at Duke and, despite the fact that his mother’s family fled Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, developed a passionate hostility to most immigration to the United States. Moving to Washington, he served as a press secretary for conservative Republican House members Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg, then joined the staff of then Alabama senator Jeff Sessions in 2009, ultimately becoming communications director. Like Sessions, he was an early Trump supporter, joining the campaign in January 2016 and moving to the White House after the election.
POWER PLAY: Once in the White House, Miller quickly made himself the architect of Trump’s immigration policy. He and Steve Bannon created the original executive order, aka the travel ban, restricting travel and immigration by citizens of seven largely Muslim countries. Miller also advocated for the crackdown on sanctuary cities, pushed for the construction of Trump’s wall with Mexico, promoted the separation of immigrant children from their parents and reduced the number of legal immigrants to the U.S. to record lows. In October, the Financial Times reported that at Miller’s urging, the White House had considered a total ban on issuing student visas to Chinese nationals, ostensibly as a way to reduce Chinese espionage. Miller argued that his plan would have the additional benefit of damaging top universities whose students and faculties had criticized Trump—but internal critics argued that such a move would damage U.S. financial competitiveness, just as external critics had argued that Trump’s fervent hostility to immigration was actually impeding economic growth.
2017 RANKING: 26
PATH TO POWER: The second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history, Trudeau studied literature at McGill and was part of the university’s debate team, once facing off against Ted Cruz and Princeton. Trudeau came onto the national stage after delivering a highly praised eulogy at the funeral for his father, Pierre Trudeau, himself prime minister from 1968 to 1984. Trudeau built a career in Liberal Party politics and became prime minister
POWER PLAY: President Trump has put free-trade agreements, such as NAFTA, in his crosshairs from day one. It has been on Trudeau, about as different temperamentally and politically from Trump as possible, to find a way to maintain Canada’s free-trade relationship with its neighbors to the south. On October 1, after a year of touch-and-go negotiations, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico announced a replacement for NAFTA, dubbed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. While maintaining the free-trade agreement was an overall victory for the Canadian and Mexican governments, Trudeau could not fend off key concessions to the U.S., including greater access to the Canadian market for American dairy farmers and continued tariffs on Canadian and Mexican aluminum and steel.
2017 RANKING: 38
PATH TO POWER: Jin’s college education was disrupted by the Chinese Cultural Revolution; he joined the Red Guards and then was assigned to hard labor and sent to rural China to work in rice paddies by the Mao government. He reenrolled at Beijing Foreign Studies University in 1978, when the nation’s university system reopened, and earned a master’s degree in English in 1980. In 1987 he received a yearlong fellowship at Boston University. He then joined the Chinese contingent at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., eventually returning to China and running the Asian Development Bank and chairing the China Investment Corporation. He was put in charge of the newly created, 100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2014.
POWER PLAY: The AIIB, which Jin has essentially created, is the linchpin in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. One Belt, One Road aims to extend Chinese geopolitical power by funding ambitious infrastructure and trade projects throughout the world, particularly in emerging and undercapitalized markets. The AIIB acts as a direct competitor to the World Bank and potentially the IMF—and thus as a competitor against the influence of Western democracies. In September Jin brought in its 87th member nation, Lebanon.
2017 RANKING: 24
PATH TO POWER: The son of a Roman banker and a pharmacist, Draghi earned a PhD in economics from MIT and worked in academia in Florence before becoming the Italian director at the World Bank and general director of the Italian Treasury. He later joined Goldman Sachs as vice chair and managing director and helped set the investment bank’s European strategy prior to the financial crisis. Draghi then served as governor of the Bank of Italy before taking the top job at the European Central Bank in 2011, in the midst of the eurozone crisis.
POWER PLAY: As head of the ECB, Draghi has been in charge of monetary policy for the eurozone since the dark days of the crisis, and he’s repeatedly brought the economic and political union back from the brink. In 2018, he announced that the Central Bank would end its years-long bond-buying spree by year’s end and begin a return to market normalcy. Yet a simmering trade war with the U.S. and uncertainty around Brexit has left many investors and businesses wondering whether Draghi has the will to step in once more should the European economy deteriorate.
2017 RANKING: 23
PATH TO POWER: Abe was born into a family with political connections stretching back three generations to the late 19th century. He entered politics in 1993 and was elected prime minister in 2006, although he resigned a year later due to a bout of ulcerative colitis and a financial scandal in his cabinet. He retook the premiership in 2012 and has held it since, putting him on track to be the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history—a significant feat in a country accustomed to short-lived PMs.
POWER PLAY: Abe’s economic program seems to be working—slowly—and the Japanese economy is growing. Abe also kept the Trans-Pacific Partnership otherwise intact after President Trump bailed on it, and signed a massive bilateral trade agreement with the EU. But his successes have been dogged by a diplomatic spat with the U.S. over Iranian oil imports and a financial scandal involving Abe’s wife, a preferential land deal and a massive government cover-up.
PATH TO POWER: Hu has over 35 years of experience in the Chinese state-run financial apparatus, including a stint as deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China. She holds a seat on the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, which sets Chinese economic strategy. She took charge of the Export-Import Bank of China in 2015.
POWER PLAY: The Export-Import Bank is a key player, along with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in China’s global Belt and Road Initiative policy. As such, Hu oversees about $102 billion in overseas funding, and she’s been pushing the bank away from fast-money investments, such as hotels, and toward core infrastructure areas such as manufacturing, energy, transportation and water. The end goal? Projecting Chinese power and influence abroad.
PATH TO POWER: Hannity is the son of a corrections officer father and a stenographer mother and attended Catholic school. Although he studied at New York University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Adelphi University, he never earned a degree. Instead, he painted houses and hosted a talk radio show on a college station in Santa Barbara. Over the years, he moved up from controversial talk radio host to the most powerful conservative TV commentator in the country. His nightly show, simply called Hannity, began broadcasting on Fox in 2008.
POWER PLAY: Hannity may have a closer relationship with the president than any member of the Trump cabinet. Many observers suspect that much of Trump’s policy opinions are drawn from watching Hannity, who in turns showers Trump with positive coverage. The two are reported to talk on the phone almost every night before bed. (Or, as Jimmy Kimmel once joked, “Did you know that when Melania is out of the country, the acting First Lady is Sean Hannity?”) As the nation’s most potent Trump whisperer, Hannity maintains a remarkable level of influence over the president’s decisions on everything from trade to immigration. He interviews/introduces Trump at rallies, warned the president not to fire deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and reportedly urged Trump to hire tainted Fox exec Bill Shine as his communications director.
PATH TO POWER: Solomon grew up in the New York suburbs; his father was an executive at a small publishing company and his mother worked in an audiology clinic. After studying political science at Hamilton College he joined Drexel Burnham in 1986, got into the junk bonds trade and moved to Bear Stearns, then to Goldman Sachs in 1999, rising to lead the firm’s investment banking operation in 2006. Solomon became co-COO in 2016 when Gary Cohn left the position to join the Trump economic team. After much speculation about the internal politics at Goldman Sachs, the public learned in March 2018 that Harvey Schwartz, who was co-COO alongside Solomon, would be leaving the firm. In July, Goldman announced that Solomon would officially take over as CEO from Lloyd Blankfein, who had been the bank’s chief for more than a decade. He is scheduled to become chairman in January 2019.
POWER PLAY: A few weeks before taking over as CEO in October, Solomon discussed his plans to reshape the Goldman board in the months to come during remarks at a dinner attended by some of the firm’s largest investors. “As a banker, I tell my clients, ‘Make the board your own,’” he said, according to Business Insider. “I’m going to follow my own advice.” CEOs, of course, work for boards, not the other way around. It will be interesting to watch how much leeway Goldman’s board allows Solomon in influencing its direction. Two of the firm’s 11 outside directors are set to retire by the 2019 annual meeting.
PATH TO POWER: A graduate of Georgetown and its law school, Lighthizer worked for Kansas Republican senator Bob Dole for many years, eventually serving as chief of staff for the Senate Finance Committee. He went on to serve as deputy U.S. trade representative under Ronald Reagan, then practiced law for several decades at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Lighthizer reentered public service in 2017 as U.S. trade representative under Donald Trump.
POWER PLAY: Trump’s antagonistic trade relationship with China is in many ways the product of Lighthizer’s influence in the West Wing. In April, following a presentation by Lighthizer on the U.S. trade relationship with China, Trump announced an investigation into the theft of U.S. companies’ IP by the Chinese followed by the first $50 billion round of tariffs, a move that many attributed to Lighthizer. He was also instrumental in driving the renegotiation of NAFTA between the U.S., Mexico and Canada in September.
2017 RANKING: 17
PATH TO POWER: Australian Gorman studied law at the University of Melbourne before moving to New York to pursue his MBA at Columbia. He worked at McKinsey, becoming a senior partner at the consulting firm, then later joined Merrill Lynch. Gorman moved to Morgan Stanley in 2006 and was promoted to copresident in 2007, then CEO in 2010. He became chairman of the board in 2012.
POWER PLAY: Although at first a divisive leader who told unhappy employees to “just leave,” Gorman has guided Morgan Stanley from a shaky position at the height of the financial crisis to being one of the most stable and best-performing banks on Wall Street. He helped triple the bank’s profits from 2014 to 2017, largely by doubling down on its wealth management practice. By May 2018, Morgan Stanley’s market cap had topped $100 billion, making it more valuable than archrival Goldman Sachs.
2017 RANKING: 16
PATH TO POWER: Born into a wealthy family—his father was a partner at Goldman Sachs, then an art dealer—Mnuchin attended Yale, class of ’85, where he roomed with future hedge funder Eddie Lampert and was a member of the secret society Skull and Bones. He would next spend 17 years at Goldman, eventually becoming the firm’s chief information officer. Mnuchin left in 2002 to start hedge funds and cofound a company with conservative bête noire George Soros. One of his companies, Dune Capital Management, invested in two Donald Trump buildings and was subsequently sued by Trump. In the 2000s, Mnuchin founded Dune Entertainment and had a successful career as a movie producer, helping to finance films such as Avatar and the X-Men franchise.
POWER PLAY: Mnuchin joined Trump’s presidential campaign as national finance chair in April 2016, well before Trump was considered the front-runner for the GOP nomination. Skeptics suggested it was a cynical ploy to become Treasury secretary, a job, according to the newsletter Dealbreaker, that “would not come his way under literally any other administration.” Cynical or not, the gambit worked: Trump named him Treasury secretary in November 2016. No one would have considered Mnuchin a policy heavyweight, but he has succeeded—which is to say, survived—in the role by advocating for Trump’s tax cut, one of the president’s most tangible political successes, pushing to weaken Dodd-Frank restrictions and criticizing regional trade deals of which the president disapproves. His latest challenge may be his hardest: navigating U.S. financial relations with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, accused of orchestrating the murder of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
PATH TO POWER: A Harvard-trained economist, Navarro spent three years in Thailand with the Peace Corps, spent much of his life as a Democrat and even ran for office as a Democrat four times in California. As late as 2007, Navarro still espoused liberal positions on a number of issues, including an aggressive policy to combat climate change. But he has nonetheless spent much of his career flouting the economic consensus embraced by many of his peers, and when it comes to trade, Navarro is firmly Team Trump. He joined the Trump campaign after receiving a cold call from Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who had found Navarro’s book Death by China on Amazon while researching talking points for the candidate. The title was an apt description of its author’s views—that China has hurt the U.S. economy in a way that merits an aggressive response—and those views have come to hold significant sway within the Trump administration.
POWER PLAY: This was a big year for Navarro. In early 2018, with proponents of free trade such as Gary Cohn and Rob Porter on their way out of the White House, Navarro became the key voice in Trump’s ear on economic policy. The effects were clear, with many of the policy ideas Navarro embraced becoming official U.S. policy. Among them were a “rebalancing” (as he calls it) of NAFTA, tariffs on billions of dollars of imports, a deep skepticism of new trade deals and threats of trade wars with China, Europe and Canada.
2017 RANKING: 18
PATH TO POWER: After graduating from Harvard Law in 1979, Roberts clerked for William Rehnquist, an associate justice on the Supreme Court at the time, then became a lawyer for the Reagan administration. In 2003, president George W. Bush appointed Roberts to a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court. Only two years later, after the death of Justice Rehnquist, Roberts was confirmed as chief justice with a 78-22 margin in the Senate—the highest number of votes received by a justice in over two decades.
POWER PLAY: With President Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch, the court’s ideology tilted markedly towards Roberts’ conservative outlook, and nearly all of 2018’s biggest rulings were made by a 5-4 majority. Roberts’ influence on the majority vote is clear: Some of the most notable cases, including on digital privacy, commercial sports betting, immigration and collective bargaining, reflected the majority’s hostility to upholding federal regulations. Following Justice Kennedy’s announced retirement in June 2018, the court may take an even harder line on regulation in years to come.
2017 RANKING: 07
PATH TO POWER: The daughter of a vicar, May grew up near Oxford and studied geography at the university before spending 14 years working in finance. She entered politics in 1997 as a Conservative MP and became part of the shadow cabinet two years later. May served as home secretary under David Cameron from 2010 to 2016 and rose to prime minister in 2016, entrusted with one major task: exiting the European Union.
POWER PLAY: The last year has been difficult for May, who is essentially in a lose-lose situation. Regardless of whether the UK undergoes a “hard Brexit,” leaving the EU without new trade and economic agreements, or a “soft Brexit,” maintaining much of its access to the continental market, many Brits are going to be unhappy. By October, the May government’s strategy seemed to essentially be to play chicken with Brussels, as negotiations were deadlocked and EU negotiators had rejected the UK’s so-called Chequers proposal outright. A failure to reach agreements with the EU by the March 29, 2019, deadline could leave the UK cut off.
2017 RANKING: 15
PATH TO POWER: Dimon began his career as an assistant to Sandy Weill at American Express, where his father had also worked. When Weill left in 1985, eventually creating Citibank, Dimon followed. Dimon, who became president of the firm, left Citigroup in 1998 after a falling out with Weill. Bank One hired Dimon as CEO in 2000, and when JPMorgan Chase purchased the bank in 2004, Dimon became president and COO of the combined company. He became CEO in 2006 and chairman in 2007.
POWER PLAY: JPMorgan Chase, the world’s largest bank by market capitalization with around $390 billion, has been performing well lately. Second-quarter profits were up 18 percent year over year, while its share price surged 12 percent. The bank’s performance can partly be attributed to Dimon’s steady hand and the influence he wields on Wall Street and in Washington (tax cuts and a less stringent regulatory environment certainly help). Dimon does make the occasional gaffe, like when he remarked in September that he could beat President Trump in the upcoming 2020 election. He quickly clarified that he did not intend to run. But he has been particularly vocal in condemning the president’s trade war with China as a potential threat to U.S. businesses and the economy. “It could easily offset some of the benefits that we’ve seen from regulatory reform and tax reform,” Dimon told CNBC in September.
2017 RANKING: 03
PATH TO POWER: The son of a chai wallah, one of the lowest-status jobs in India, Modi sold tea alongside his father as a child. He rejected an arranged marriage as a teenager and instead joined a Hindu nationalist youth party, starting him on a journey through India’s right-wing political parties that culminated with his election as prime minister in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Modi has sought define his tenure as prime minister around economic reforms and modernization. The best example: 2016’s demonetization campaign, which took 500 and 1,000 rupee notes out of circulation and forced rural, cash-dependent Indians to open bank accounts, many for the first time. Since then, he’s faced criticism that the policy also provided a pathway for India’s notoriously tax-avoidant rich to pass untaxed money into their bank accounts. More recently, the Modi government has implemented a national biometric ID program, Aadhaar, which it says will act as the spine of improved tax collection and public benefits programs.
2017 RANKING: 04
PATH TO POWER: The daughter of a Lutheran minister, Merkel grew up in East Germany, became fluent in Russian and earned a PhD in quantum chemistry at Leipzig University (then called Karl Marx University) in 1986. She entered politics when the Berlin Wall fell, initially as minister for women and youth as part of Helmut Kohl’s government. A Bundestag member since 1990, she was elected chancellor in 2005 and has held that position since.
POWER PLAY: In October, Merkel announced that she would step down as chair of the Christian Democratic Union by the end of this year and that she would not run again for chancellor in 2021. The announcement would appear to mark the end of Merkel’s political career, and was generally seen as a political win for Germany’s right wing and for Donald Trump; Merkel had long positioned herself as a check on the power of both. But while the liberal world order takes a hit with her exit, Merkel remains a wily politician. Her preemptive move could help preserve the fragile coalition between the CDU and Germany’s Social Democrats while tamping down opposition to her within her own party.
2017 RANKING: 13
PATH TO POWER: Macron became the youngest president in French history when he was elected in 2017 at age 39. He was born in Amiens and studied philosophy at Paris Nanterre University, writing a master’s thesis on Machiavelli and Hegel. After a stint at a literary magazine, Macron earned a second master’s in public affairs at Sciences Po. He joined the Ministry of Finance in 2004 and moved to Rothschild & Cie Banque in 2008. Macron entered politics in 2010 as part of the administration of François Hollande, rising to minister of economy and finance by 2014.
POWER PLAY: Macron has sought to be a bulwark for liberalism and a strong EU alongside German chancellor Angela Merkel. He ran against the far-right Popular Front in France, eking out a victory, even as similar parties took power in Italy and Hungary and Merkel faces off against her own populist challengers. Since then, he’s been managing union strikes while warning of the possibility of a European “civil war.” And although he began his presidency calling for greater European integration via the creation of a combined military, harmonized minimum wage and taxes, and the creation of a eurozone budget, those proposals appear DOA without strong German backing. By the beginning of October, Macron’s approval rating had sagged from 64 percent to just 29 percent.
PATH TO POWER: Yi studied economics at Beijing University and then Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., before earning a PhD at the University of Illinois. He entered academia, teaching at the University of Indiana and at Peking University before joining the People’s Bank of China in 1997, where he held positions of increasing responsibility. He was appointed governor of the central bank by Chinese president Xi Jinping in March 2018.
POWER PLAY: Yi is expected to be a liberalizing force in Chinese monetary policy. An early indication of his tactics is a shift toward acting through the currency swaps market, providing a forward indicator of the movement of the yuan, rather than using China’s $3.12 trillion in foreign currency reserves to prop up the currency. But he has not tried to completely arrest the slide in value of the yuan versus the dollar. Instead, in an attempt to offset the impact of American tariffs, Yi allowed the Chinese currency to depreciate by around 7 percent from June to August.
2017 RANKING: 09
PATH TO POWER: The son of a dairy company accountant and a homemaker, Bloomberg grew up in the Boston suburbs and became an Eagle Scout as a teenager. He studied electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins and earned an MBA at Harvard in 1966 before starting his career at Salomon Brothers. When Bloomberg was laid off by Salomon’s parent company, he used $10 million in stock he owned to finance the creation of the first Bloomberg terminal. Information soon became his currency, and his eponymous company made him a billionaire. But politics called, and he served as mayor of New York from 2002 until 2013, running as both a Republican and an Independent.
POWER PLAY: Bloomberg’s mayorship, and his politics since leaving office, can be defined as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, particularly on issues such as the environment and gun control. He’s now bringing that mindset to bear on the national and global stages. In June he announced a plan to spend $80 million backing Democratic congressional candidates in an attempt to disrupt the Trump administration’s hard-right policies on guns, immigration and climate change. By September Bloomberg intimated that he was considering a presidential run as a Democrat. And also in September, the United Nations appointed him to head a campaign to raise $100 billion in green investments from private sources in an effort to shore up the Paris Climate Agreement. In October he announced a contribution of $250,000 to Miami Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, hosted a fundraiser for Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Bredesen and announced a $20 million gift to the Democratic Senate Majority political action committee.
PATH TO POWER: A Washington, D.C., native, Powell attended Georgetown Prep and studied political science at Princeton before earning a JD at Georgetown, where he was editor in chief of the Georgetown Law Journal. He moved to New York in 1979 and worked in a variety of legal and financial positions until he joined the Treasury in 1990; in 1992, he was appointed undersecretary of the Treasury for domestic finance by president George H.W. Bush. In 1993 he returned to private finance, first at Bankers Trust and then at the Carlyle Group in 1997. After several other detours, he was nominated to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors by President Obama in 2011. Powell was nominated as Fed chairman by President Trump in November 2017 and approved by 21 out of 22 members of the Senate Banking Committee, with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren the lone holdout.
POWER PLAY: The Fed under Powell is gradually raising rates, a decade after the beginning of the financial crisis. President Trump disapproves and went on CNBC in July to tell the world. A president weighing in on monetary policy is highly unusual and calls into question the independence of the central bank, something that is normally considered a necessity for market and economic stability. In a sign of power and wisdom, Powell simply ignored the president: There’s nothing the president could do to remove Powell, even if he wanted to.
2017 RANKING: 08
PATH TO POWER: A former prime minister of Luxembourg, from 1995 to 2013, Juncker is an attorney by training, although he never practiced law. Instead he worked as a secretary at the Luxembourgian parliament, and then was elected to the chamber of deputies in 1984. He was one of the key authors of the Maastricht Treaty establishing the European Union. Juncker became president of the European Commission in 2014.
POWER PLAY: Juncker’s term expires in 2019, and he’s announced that he won’t seek a second. That said, he’s not going out quietly. He’s been playing rope-a-dope on tariffs with President Trump and hardball with the UK in the ongoing Brexit negotiations. A consummate technocrat, Juncker is a master at ratcheting up the pressure on his opponents. In the case of Brexit, for instance, he casually warned during an October talk in the small German city of Freiburg that British planes could be completely blocked from landing in continental Europe unless Theresa May’s government acquiesces to European demands.
2017 RANKING: 11
PATH TO POWER: Born and raised in Van Nuys, Calif., Fink graduated from UCLA in 1974. He began his Wall Street career at First Boston in 1976, then left in 1988 to found BlackRock. Thanks in part to its 2009 purchase of Barclays Global Investors, the investment management firm has since risen to become the world’s largest; it has more than $6 trillion in AUM.
POWER PLAY: Fink is one of the most respected executives on Wall Street, perhaps the most respected. The remarkable success of his firm is the main reason, but there’s also the fact that Fink has increasingly—through his writings, television appearances and leadership of BlackRock—become a leading global voice for sustainable capitalism. In his 2018 “letter to CEOs,” Fink used unusually pointed language for someone in his position. “Since the financial crisis, those with capital have reaped enormous benefits.” But, he continued, “for millions, the prospect of a secure retirement is slipping further and further away.” Society, Fink argued, is demanding that companies both public and private serve “a social purpose.” To that end, in October BlackRock announced that it was offering a new line of ESG-centered ETFs, called iShares Sustainable Core. The firm said that these new funds would “bundle the ability to focus on purpose and performance.”
2017 RANKING: 01
PATH TO POWER: Xi has built a life, and immense personal power, within the Communist Party. His father fought as part of the Communist revolution, then was rejected by party leadership and tortured during a purge. Xi himself was sent to the countryside and lived in a cave during the Cultural Revolution. After he escaped, he was consigned to digging ditches. But Xi played his cards right and, after studying chemical engineering and Maoism at Tsinghua University, he gradually maneuvered through the dense ranks and apparatus of the Communist Party until he was elected general secretary in 2012 and president in 2013.
POWER PLAY: Xi has solidified power by eliminating competition, cracking down on political resistance and imprisoning high-flying oligarchs on corruption charges. He’s also fully cemented China’s status as a world superpower. In 2018, he faced off against President Trump in an escalating trade war. Neither leader seems prepared to blink; as of October the tariffs covered roughly half of bilateral trade. And Xi continues to expand the Belt and Road Initiative, an economic development project that projects Chinese power into virtually every corner of the globe. In September alone, China pledged $60 billion to developing infrastructure projects just in Africa. It increasingly looks like the BRI is a classic debt trap: China offers mountains of debt to developing nations in dire need of infrastructure improvements and then uses debt renegotiation or forgiveness as leverage to achieve other goals, such as 99-year leases on strategic ports.
2017 RANKING: 02
PATH TO POWER: Born in Leningrad, Putin trained in martial arts as a youth, mastered German and, after studying law at the local university—and writing a thesis about international trade law—was recruited into the Soviet security apparatus. He worked as a low-level spymaster in East Germany until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Soviet communism’s demise was good for young Vlad, though, and he rose through the political ranks in St. Petersburg and then Moscow, mastering the arts of graft and corruption that would create today’s Russian oligarchs and slyly eliminating his competition along the way. He attached himself to Boris Yeltsin, becoming his chief of staff and the head of the FSB (the successor to the KGB), and insinuated himself into the top job in 1999 after Yeltsin’s surprise New Year’s Eve resignation. Since then, Putin has tightened his control over Russia, prosecuting wars in Chechnya and Crimea and seizing Russia’s major businesses and natural resources, albeit with plausible deniability; Putin’s favorite cellist and godfather to his oldest daughter, for instance, is the paper owner of offshore companies with some $2 billion in annual revenue.
POWER PLAY: There’s little doubt that Putin orchestrated Russia’s intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to favor Donald Trump. The question is, why? And the answer is directly connected to financial power, both Putin’s and Russia’s. Many of Trump’s actions have been to the benefit of one man: Vladimir Putin. Since his election, Trump pulled out of the world’s largest ever free-trade deal, the TPP, jeopardized America’s relationship with NATO and entered into a debilitating trade war with China. And while these actions do benefit Russia in a geopolitical sense, they’re also a sign of Putin’s essentially acquisitive nature; his attempt to trade Russian spies for hedge fund manager and Magnitsky Act instigator Bill Browder indicates that the U.S. sanctions regime has put the squeeze on his business interests and personal fortune, and the fortunes of his cronies in Moscow. Putin’s total net worth, including the profits thrown off by state industries and other hidden assets, has been estimated at $200 billion by Browder, while others have placed the number even higher, making him the wealthiest person in the world. His track record indicates that he’ll defend it ruthlessly.
2017 RANKING: 05
In the weeks before this fall’s midterm elections, Donald Trump crisscrossed the country in support of Republican congressional and gubernatorial candidates. The themes he used to motivate GOP voters were pretty alarming. An immigrant horde replete with hardened criminals and “Middle Easterners” was marching toward our southern border; Democrats aimed to steal the election by perpetuating widespread voter fraud; the Democrats had also turned into an “angry left-wing mob” determined to promote socialist policies while simultaneously taking away Americans’ health insurance. None of this is what you could call “true,” and as it turned out, it wasn’t effective either, as the Democrats picked up 39 seats in the House and won the popular vote by eight percentage points.
Numerous commentators have already debated the ethics of such appeals, but there’s another point to make about Trump’s approach: He could have campaigned on a positive message. He had the material. The president could have gone to American voters and said, “When I was running for office, I made promises to this country—and to the world—about what I would do as president, and I have kept those promises. The economy is strong, unemployment is down, economic growth is up, your taxes are lower. Happy days are here again—and if you want them to stick around, vote for the people who support my agenda.”
That argument would also have prompted debate—everything does, these days—but it is certainly as viable a campaign proposition as many that are currently made, and has the benefit of being true, unlike the stuff and nonsense that Trump did campaign on.
In no area is this more the case than finance. Trump promised voters a tax cut. In January 2018, they got one. (Some folks more than others, but still.) He promised to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—it was “an attack on America’s business” that will “lead to even greater unemployment,” he tweeted in 2015—and he did. He promised to renegotiate NAFTA, and he did, embarrassing Canada by threatening to omit that country from a deal and forcing the Canadians to scramble back to the negotiating table. He vowed to fight Chinese protectionism, and by applying about $500 billion worth of tariffs to various Chinese goods, he has. He promised to crack down on both legal and illegal immigration. He’s certainly done the former, and no one could deny that he is passionately trying to execute on the latter. He appointed a new Fed chair and also won the successful nomination of two conservative Supreme Court justices, who will have a profound impact on the regulation of American business for decades to come.
As is typically the case with Trump, there are elements of uncertainty and hyperbole to all of this. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal—it’s called the USMCA—is basically NAFTA with a few tweaks. Trump is softening the impact of the tariffs with a $16 billion giveaway to U.S. farmers. He’s attacked Jerome Powell, his new Fed chair, saying that “he looks like he’s happy raising interest rates.” The tax cut has had such a profound impact on tax collections, it’s adding about $100 billion a year to the federal budget deficit with no end in sight.
Trump fans and critics can argue the pros and cons of these moves. What isn’t in doubt is that Donald Trump is having an enormous impact on the American and global economies. He is forcing Chinese president Xi Jinping to deal with the reality of tariffs and the threat of more; he made Canada’s Justin Trudeau bend his country’s collective knee for fear of being excluded from a North American trade deal; he has alternately embraced and rebuffed the EU. When on the campaign trail he started talking up the idea of a middle-class tax cut, members of the administration and Republicans in Congress scrambled to concoct one.
The consequences of Trump’s unpredictable behavior—many economists fear that Trump’s moves are actually harmful to economic growth—haven’t seemed to matter too much because they come against a backdrop of a booming economy, low unemployment and, until recently, a steadily rising stock market.
The question for Donald Trump is, what happens if the good times stop rolling? What will you do then?