Wall Street Executives Brace for a Potential Biden Win as Trump Fades in Polls

Finance executives are now bracing for Joe Biden to potentially win the presidency as Donald Trump slides in national and swing-state polls, CNBC reports.

Various current and former Wall Street financiers, analysts, lobbyists, lawyers and political advisors with banking clients spoke to CNBC about how the industry is bracing for a possible Biden win. Some spoke on the record, others decided to discuss on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

The changes in tone and expectation – and, in some cases, preparation for a Biden presidency – represent an about-face for many executives who privately cheered on Trump’s cuts in corporate and income taxes, along with his rollback of regulations. Many of them have traditionally projected more moderate leanings in public settings.

Michael Novogratz, an investor and philanthropist, said he has noticed a change from many of his wealthy finance friends who were convinced that Trump would win because, at the time, the economy was humming and the market was consistently soaring. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people in America were forced into unemployment, and the market, while it recovered from its steepest losses, remains in flux.

“Five months ago I had a dinner with 10 of the best investors. I was the only guy that thought Biden would win. Eight were for Trump, one undecided and one Biden supporter,” Novogratz said Thursday. “I think if you polled that group today it would be a 50 to 50 split or 60 to 40 for Biden.”

The preparation for a Biden presidency ranges from privately warning clients and affluent friends that their taxes will soon be going up, to veteran executives speaking to people linked to Biden out of hopes they can have access to the White House. Others are donating more to Biden’s campaign.

A Wall Street bundler with ties to former President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has recently noticed a surge in calls being returned by uncommitted finance executives to now give to Biden. This person has also pitched donors that if they donate, they may have a better chance at seeing their philanthropic initiatives supported by a Biden administration.

A lobbyist told CNBC that he estimates over 50% of his Wall Street clients are convinced Biden is going to beat Trump. A Republican political operative, whose clients include financial investment firms and big tech companies, said that in private meetings, finance executives are starting to believe Biden will overtake Trump. This operative also said they hope Biden will not raise corporate taxes until the economy stabilizes in the wake of Covid-19.

Jonathan Hartley, a former associate at Goldman Sachs, affirmed that higher taxes are a predominant concern on Wall Street.

“Taxes across the board [are] definitely at the very top of [the] mind given Biden’s improvements in polling,” Hartley said.

Signum Global, a financial advisory firm led by former Evercore vice chair Charles Myers, have told clients that not only will Biden win, but that the Senate is going to flip to the Democrats. The group has also been clear that it believes taxes across most industries are going up.

A corporate restructuring attorney, who represents a variety of Wall Street firms, says that in recent conversations with CEOs and leaders of various funds, they believe Biden is going to win but Republicans will maintain the Senate. The hope is, this attorney says, that there will be a GOP backstop to prevent Biden from embracing more left-leaning economic policies.

Biden leads Trump by about 10 points in a Real Clear Average of national polls. The former vice president also has opened up leads in swing states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan, all of which Trump won in 2016.

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