Unstructured Finance

NJ Governor Chris Christie spotted outside Goldman Sachs

May 15, 2013

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie shakes hands with Lloyd Blankfein lookalike outside Goldman Sachs on Wednesday

Editor’s note: Updated with reason for Christie’s visit.

These days it seems New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is everywhere, from TV talk shows and radio appearances to accompanying Prince Harry on a well-publicized tour of the devastated Jersey Shore. So maybe it’s not too surprising he was spotted outside of Goldman Sachs’s Lower Manhattan office Wednesday morning.

An Unstructured Finance reporter happened to see the sharp-tongued Republican governor walking into 200 West Street just before 11:30. Spokespeople for Goldman and the governor’s office said he was there for the bank’s Global Macro conference, which invites politicians, regulators, diplomats, CEOs and other power players to talk about big-picture trends.

Christie, who filed papers last year to run for re-election in 2014, recently announced that he had gastric bypass surgery to deal with his weight problem and he was looking in good spirits on Wednesday. He had a thick security detail and shook hands with a guy who, from behind, looked like Lloyd Blankfein but turned out not to be. He buttoned his jacket and waved to onlookers on his way into 200 West Street.

Christie has a lot of connections to the Wall Street bank — starting with having beaten its former co-CEO Jon Corzine in the governor’s race in 2009 —but no clear reason to be visiting this week.

Goldman bankers helped Christie get into office that year by offering a cash-flow analysis of the state that formulated his view of the budget, according to a New York Times Magazine report in 2011. Christie’s hard-line on budgetary issues has been controversial  but has made him popular among fiscal hawks and some segment of the voting population.

Perhaps Christie’s closest link to is his brother, Todd, who ran the specialist stock trading firm Spear, Leeds & Kellogg. Goldman acquired the business in 2000, giving Todd a $60 million payout as CEO.

The merger worked out less well for Goldman, as stock trading has become less and less lucrative since that time, due to shrinking margins and high expenses, all mostly related to electronification. (When a reporter mentioned the deal to a senior Goldman executive last year, the exec joked that Goldman’s P&L on Spear, Leeds & Kellogg was nothing to write home about and was a lesson the bank is keeping in mind these days as it looks at the increasingly electronified bond and derivatives markets.)

New Jersey’s first lady, Mary Pat Christie, also worked as an investment banker at the bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald, but left after the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks. Yet Christie himself doesn’t have a lot of Wall Street on his resume – he was a lawyer and prosecutor for most of his career before becoming governor.

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