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Wall Street Fixer Goes to Washington

Even before the 2008 crisis turned Wall Street bankers into public enemy number one, convincing the lords of finance to try their hand at government wasn't always such an easy task.

John Mack, now Morgan Stanley's chairman, says he was "approached" about a government position several years ago but turned it down.
Morgan Stanley's Chairman sent Domino's pizza to Nides' house on Yom Kippur.

"A few years later I said to the Vice President, 'Dick, I made the right decision, didn't I?' He said, 'absolutely.'"

Mack declined to say what the position was, though he told TheStreet in an interview he would consider working in government in the future.

Mack points to former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey Pitt as an example of the dangers of leaving the private sector to work in government. Pitt lasted just 15 months as chairman and was forced to resign amid what The New York Times described as "a series of political missteps."

Mack, on the other hand, contends Pitt was an innocent bystander who got blown away by the fallout from the Enron accounting scandal.

"You think his reputation was enhanced or hurt going down there? I would argue it was hurt," Mack says of Pitt.

For his own part, Pitt writes via email that despite what he describes as "small-minded, politically motivated attacks," he believes his experience as SEC Chair has helped him in his career, though he originally took the job out of a belief that "public service is everyone's obligation."

Nides makes similar comments in explaining his motivation for taking the State Department job. Having been fortunate enough to make lots of money, he says he is a big believer in "giving back."

"Arguably I had one of the best jobs on Wall Street, and to leave there to come to the State Department? I don't need to be here to get my next job," he says.

It isn't likely to hurt, though. Taubman believes Nides wants to provide "a bridge between the public and private sectors," something that will make him a great asset to the private sector assuming he returns to business, which he says he would like to do.

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