Wall Street Is Scared Shitless About Bernie and Liz 2020

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It’s nowhere close to Halloween, but Wall Street is indulging in some spooky, scary storytelling: What if Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders gets the Democratic nomination for president? Cripes!


Politico reported this morning that while Wall Street execs “would love to be rid of President Donald Trump”—which I don’t fully believe, since his tax bill was so beneficial for them—they’re “panicked” about Democrats nominating a lefty.

Who keeps them up at night most? Who is the monster under their bed? Warren and Sanders:

“It can’t be Warren and it can’t be Sanders,” said the CEO of another giant bank. “It has to be someone centrist and someone who can win.”

A centrist! Someone who can win! Like... Who?

Wall Street executives who want Trump out list a consistent roster of appealing nominees that includes former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California. Others meriting mention: former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, though fewally know his positions.

In terms of the policies they say they support now, you couldn’t really describe Booker, Gillibrand, or Harris as centrists, but when you consider their past positions—like Booker’s love of pharma—you can see what they mean. It seems what they really mean is “someone who won’t be too mean to us,” or “someone who will talk to us.”

One of the piece’s few named sources suggested Gillibrand—who made calls to Wall Street executives to gauge support late last year, according to CNBC—could be an agreeable candidate.


“She is a pragmatist, not an ideologue, and of the announced candidates so far she is the most electable,” said Larry Rand, who Politico describes as a “Wall Street veteran” who is now a professor, so not necessarily the most current Wall Street of the Wall Street sources. But another anonymous bank executive said there’s “not a lot of trust” in her. Dang! Back to the drawing board.

Still, one source told the site that they’ll be on board with almost anyone: “Frankly, if people believed Warren would win, they’d jump on board. And everyone in the top tier not named Bernie Sanders could probably win.”


Look, I don’t think it’s sensible to assign too much weight to what one anonymous Wall Street guy tells Ben White at Politico. I am sure some Wall Street executives would donate to Warren if she were the Democratic nominee, but I think a lot more would just sit it out. I would note, though, that the fact that the Wall Street guy can’t even conceive of Sanders winning—despite the fact that he’s the most popular U.S. senator and polls have him beating Trump by more than Warren (second only to Biden)—should tell you something.

If you’re picking candidates based on who gives Wall Street the most nightmares—and you could do a lot worse than to pick that way—it looks like there’s not going to be much distance between Sanders and Warren. But I’d guess the candidate who they can’t or won’t even imagine winning is the safer bet.

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com