Despite surging populism, Goldman Sachs is set to be more more deeply entrenched in government in 2017 than perhaps ever before.
A tour of the top offices in President-elect Trump's administration next year reveals just how far the megabank's alumni network extends.
The treasury secretary, the most important position in shaping the nation's economic policy, is slated to be Steven Mnuchin, a hedge fund manager and former Goldman Sachs partner.
Directing the National Economic Council, tasked with coordinating economic policy for Trump, will be Gary Cohn, the outgoing president of Goldman Sachs.
Trump's top adviser within the White House will be Steven Bannon, the right-wing former publisher of Breitbart and one-time Goldman Sachs banker. Outside the White House, Goldman Sachs alum and hedge fund executive Anthony Scaramucci will provide advice to Trump.
Yet Goldman's network of influence was already growing without Trump. Within the Federal Reserve system, responsible for monetary policy and regulation of banks, four of the 12 regional bank presidents have ties to Goldman Sachs.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, it appeared that bankers would be less welcome in government. Over the past several years, in particular, populist Democrats such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have campaigned to keep financial industry executives out of regulatory roles. Sometimes the rhetoric ran hot: In January, while running for the presidency, Sanders cited Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein personally as an example of Wall Street greed, criticizing him for his "huge" earnings "after destroying the economy."
For a time, lobbyists and lawmakers thought that Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the presidency and implement a number of liberal tough-on-Wall Street measures, including new regulations meant to slow the revolving door between banks and government posts.
But even in a Clinton administration, Goldman Sachs wasn't likely to be shut out: Gary Gensler, a former partner at the bank, was a top campaign adviser and likely to get a high-ranking position.
Bankers have always been involved in U.S. government, dating back prominently to J.P. Morgan's efforts in responding to the financial crisis of 1907, which prompted Congress to create the Federal Reserve in 1913.
Since CEO Sidney Weinberg helped FDR recruit business leaders to aid with the war effort, and later advised on Treasury nominations, Goldman Sachs has played a particularly large role in shaping policy.
Robert Rubin, President Bill Clinton's treasury secretary, spent a quarter-century at Goldman Sachs before joining the administration and reshaping the Democratic Party's economic platform, to the chagrin of many progressives.
Under President George W. Bush, the bank became known as "Government Sachs." Bush appointed the bank's former chairman, Stephen Friedman, a top economic adviser, former executive Joshua Bolten as chief of staff, vice chairman Robert Steel undersecretary of the treasury, and former CEO Hank Paulson his treasury secretary.
Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker, managed the implementation of the TARP bailouts as a member of the Bush Treasury and now is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
The populist interpretation of the bank's representation in the upper echelons of the government is that the revolving door is good for business, and Goldman Sachs is good at business.
In that view, the "vampire squid" view, bankers in government serve banks, not the public, and shouldn't be placed in positions with responsibility for setting financial policy.
Warren laid out that view in 2014, during confirmation hearings for Stanley Fischer to become vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. Noting that Fischer would be one of several high-ranking Democratic nominees to have worked at Citigroup, Warren challenged him directly, warning that "it's dangerous if our government falls under the grip of a tight-knit group connected to one institution — former colleagues get access through calls and meetings, economic policy can be dominated by group think, other qualified and innovative people can be crowded out of top government positions."
The case for bankers, on the other hand, is that they might have understanding of business and markets that politicians, civil servants, academics or people from other backgrounds might not have.
Why Goldman Sachs in particularly is poised to be so influential in the Trump administration is a more difficult question.
One possibility is that Trump has consciously chosen people from Goldman Sachs to reassure investors who might otherwise be thrown off by his erratic behavior.
"There's no better way to calm people in the financial markets ... than to appoint a slew of people from Goldman Sachs," said William Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World. "That's instant credibility."
Goldman Sachs, like other prestigious megabanks, invests heavily in training and grooming employees in a way that companies in other industries do not, preparing them for futures in banking or other industries. The bank "has been built at least for the past 50 years on priding itself on attracting and retaining the best and the brightest" and molding them a certain way, Cohan said.
Phillip Swagel, a University of Maryland economist and former official in the Bush Treasury, suggested that "some of the same things that make you good at banking make you good at public service," especially in building relationships.
As an example of a banker who has transferable skills between banking and government, Swagel mentioned Richard Berner. Today, Berner runs the Office of Financial Research, an entity within the Treasury created by the 2010 Wall Street reform law to conduct analyses of the financial system as a whole to search out new threats. Before taking that role, Berner was the co-head of global economics at Morgan Stanley.
Whether Mnuchin will fit that description is not known. The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
But whatever baggage or interests he might bring to the job, Mnuchin certainly possesses the number-one advantage of having a banker in the job, namely that he knows who to call and how to speak the language of markets. Of course, one problem is that some of the biggest names won't be on Wall Street to pick up the phone, but instead will be in the government with him.