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From Wall Street to Washington

The Good, the Bad, and the Mean

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Corzine on the Issues
Get a quick summary of his views on topics ranging from abortion to tax reform.

From Wall Street to Washington
Senator Jon S. Corzine, '73

At first glance, Jon Corzine seems a study in contradiction. He grew up in a small Midwestern farm town, yet he thrived on Wall Street and became chairman of investment giant Goldman Sachs. In college, he was a Young Republican, yet he ran for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat on the most liberal platform of any major candidate. He spent $60 million of his personal fortune to run for office, yet he supports campaign finance reform.

Bearded and bespectacled, affable and analytical, Corzine seems more like a thoughtful educator than a Wall Street wizard or junior senator. He ponders questions, pauses, and then responds with a flow of words that makes you think he has not yet learned - or has chosen not to embrace the sound bite.

His voice is a low rumble that recedes as he considers, then crescendos as he concludes his thoughts. Replace the navy pinstripes and red tie with a cardigan and corduroys and you almost want to call him "Professor."

Just who is Jon Corzine?

Those familiar with the 2000 U.S. Senate race in New Jersey know his basic biography. Corzine was born January 1, 1947, in Taylorville, Illinois. He worked construction jobs to pay his way through the University of Illinois, briefly served in the Marines, and enrolled in the GSB's evening program while working as a bond officer at Continental Illinois National Bank in Chicago.

"I had just gotten out of the Marine Corps, I was broke, and we'd just had our first child," he said. After taking a dozen courses part time, he transferred to the campus program and graduated in 1973.

The Goldman Years
In 1975, the young M.B.A. moved to the East Coast, where he joined Goldman Sachs as a trader. His ascent at the investment bank has been called "meteoric," and that does not seem to be hyperbole. In 1977, he was a vice president. By 1980, he was named general partner-in-charge of government, mortgage, and money markets trading within fixed income.

"I was either very lucky or reasonably consistently good as a trader," Corzine said. "I had my good days and bad days, but I was reasonably effective in the world I was responsible for: fixed income trading."

In 1988, he became co-head of the fixed income division, where he held joint responsibility for the firm's finance and treasury functions. In 1994, he was appointed co-chairman and co-CEO.

"It was a period of time when Goldman was expanding dramatically," Corzine said. "I think when I joined Goldman Sachs they had 1,700 people, and when I became chairman, they had about 16,000. It was one of those sweeping times that globalization and technology and other things were making possible. [There was] tremendous expansion of franchises, which all played to my advantage."


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