Hedge funds and Wall Street bet big on Biden. Will he deliver?


Remember when Joe Biden tried to sound like the populist in the race by claiming he was the candidate of Scranton, Pennsylvania, while President Trump was the candidate of Park Avenue? It was a nice phrase, and reporters loved it, but it was also malarkey, totally undermined by campaign finance data. Biden outraised Trump 8 to 1 from Park Avenue, and Trump raised more from Scranton than from Park Avenue.

Now,we have a nearly complete view of who funded whom in the 2020 election, and Biden’s populist posturing is destroyed by the actual facts. The most politically interested and politically active industries favored Biden with their donations and expect to reap the rewards of his victory.

Biden quadrupled Trump’s haul from hedge funds and Wall Street, according to numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Biden raked in a record $74.4 million from Wall Street (the “Securities/Investment” industry as counted by the Center for Responsive Politics), more than four times Trump’s $18.1 million. Likewise, Biden raised $42.6 million from hedge fund partners, executives, and employees in 2020, more than four times Trump’s haul of $9.4 million.

Commercial banks supported Biden by more than 2 to 1, $5.1 million to $2.1 million. Overall, the financial sector, which includes the above industries, favored Biden $201.7 million to $84.1 million.

This doesn’t merely undermine Biden’s self-crafted image — it also undermines the message Trump tried to convey during the campaign: that the markets would tank under a Biden win.

Ben White at Politico explained during the campaign: “Far from panicking at the prospect of a Biden win, Wall Street CEOs, traders, and investment managers now mostly say they would be fine with a change in the White House that reduces the Trump noise, lowers the threat of further trade wars, and ensures a continuation of the government spending they’ve seen in recent years.”

So, if the Republicans hold the Senate by winning one of two Georgia runoffs, is that a loss for Wall Street? It would dampen the hopes for a reliably wide-open spigot of government spending, but I don't think it would be a disaster.

The existing firms on Wall Street and the existing commercial banks will do particularly well under Biden. He will push more regulation, which historically protects incumbent financial firms. He also has historically supported bailouts.

Biden also will try to increase state-industry cooperation. His chief of staff will be a former lobbyist for Fannie Mae, the pinnacle of corporatism. His nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, was a longtime champion of government-industry cooperation. That cooperation often takes the form of government-backed financing, which means free money for banks.

The Left arguably has more clout today than it did under Obama, but I expect the next four years will be a reprise of Obamanomics, which is good for the financial sector's incumbents.

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