- Getty/Mark Wilson
A couple of weeks ago, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a Hillary Clinton supporter, was asked whether he wished he had backed Donald Trump.
“So, in hindsight, do you wish you had backed the other horse, then?” Joe Kernen of CNBC asked him in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Or do you like more regulation and higher taxes?”
“But there’s other things, there’s other factors at work here, too,” the Goldman Sachs CEO responded.
Yes, there are – and this weekend’s events made that clear.
Starbucks responded by committing to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over five years. Thousands of people have protested at cities and airports around the US. One of the largest of Sunday’s protests took place at Battery Park in lower Manhattan, a short walk from the world’s financial capital.
The Wall Street bosses did finally weigh in, too. JPMorgan had to reach out to employees who might be affected by the order over the weekend, and it has set up a hotline for those who think they might be affected. Blankfein, who has been consistent in his concerns over Trump’s presidency, sent a memo to employees vowing to minimize any disruption resulting from the order.
Mike Corbat, the CEO of Citigroup, said “we are concerned about the message the executive order sends.”
The question that remains unanswered is at which point Trump policies become an embarrassment for those who have lined up behind Trump’s promise to cut taxes and regulation, or indeed the Wall Streeters who have joined the administration.
Finance is a global industry, and Wall Street firms hire from everywhere.
Wall Street banks also do business around the world. A case in point: Citigroup and JPMorgan recently worked on the sale of $1 billion in bonds from the Republic of Iraq backed by the US government. Iraq is one of the seven countries affected by Trump’s executive order.
Now, I know what you’re going to say. True, Wall Street has traditionally been a Republican stronghold in the same way Silicon Valley is largely Democratic. And yes, from Wall Street’s perspective, there is a lot to like about Trump’s administration.
They see people they know. They see their share prices rocketing. They see the promise of reduced regulation and lower corporate taxes. For some, it’s a sign that it’s time to stop apologizing – that greed might be good again.
But those Wall Streeters are now being reminded of something that was lost in the postelection euphoria, as Wall Streeters jumped aboard the Trump train. There is more to life than share prices and taxes.