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9 Feb, 2010 21:35

Wall Street switching sides

After years of donating to Democrats, and US President Barack Obama in particular, major banks and brokerages seem to be moving their money to the other side.

 After several years of showering money on the Democratic Party, Wall Street executives are betting on Republicans in 2010. The political action committee of JPMorganChase, whose CEO is a friend of US President Barack Obama, has refused requests from national Democratic organizations and instead given thousands to Republican groups. Bankers and hedge fund managers say they are tired of being blamed for all the economy’s problems – especially after Obama raised millions of dollars for Democratic campaigns by building personal connections in the financial community.

However, some believe the anger of the financial community is misplaced. The economy is still in recession, but the bailout has assured that banks are once again making money – resulting in big bonuses for bankers. Additionally, no meaningful financial reform has been passed, and is unlikely to be, and a Wall Street scion, Timothy Geithner, is secretary of the treasury.

“Nothing has happened to them except for bad press,” said Les Leopold. “There have been no new regulations that prohibit any of the speculative activity that caused the crash in the first place.”

And despite the war chests Wall Street can help provide, losing that kind of financial support may not be that damaging to Democrats since the anger many Americans still feel towards bankers and brokers could cause a backlash against politicians who accept their money.

“I think this time around, support from Wall Street could be the kiss of death,” Leopold said. “Wall Street is not going to win a big popularity contest.”