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Wall Street Fixer Goes to Washington

Nides' sense of humor endeared him to many people he has worked with, not least Mack, who describes a prank he once played on his trusted aide.

"In 2007 prior to the meltdown in '08 he came back from Yom Kippur he said 'You know my children drove me crazy, John. I'm fasting. You know they're young enough they don't have to but they're coming in, they're eating pizza in front of me, they're eating ice cream. They drove me crazy.'

Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin says Nides understands "what the private sector is going to find attractive and enticing"

"So next year, it happened to be during the crisis, he goes to Yom Kippur service and he's fasting and at 12 o'clock the doorbell rings and its Dominos pizza. And then for the next 8 hours I sent a pizza to him every hour on the hour," says Mack, who concedes that while Nides enjoyed the joke, other Jewish friends of his found it disrespectful, an effect Mack hadn't considered.

The transition of power at Morgan Stanley from Mack to James Gorman led to a promotion for Nides, and Morgan Stanley's newest CEO says Nides played a crucial role in helping the firm survive the 2008 financial crisis.

"During a financial crisis ordinarily those with financial expertise would drive themselves into the center of the debate and drive the debate. He was uniquely capable to put himself in the center and add value doing something when the main subject matter was actually not his forte," Gorman says.

Since Nides left Morgan Stanley, the two men remain in contact.

"One doesn't make many real friendships in business, meaning that they sustain long after you've left the firm you're at. It's just hard to do and I would regard Tom as being--it's just highly likely that we will stay friends through the rest of our lives," Gorman says.

Indeed, it is remarkable how many powerful people seem to have a soft spot for Nides, which is not to say there is anything remotely soft about him.

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