Wall Street donors have a new favorite candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential field: Pete Buttigieg.
The mayor of South Bend, Ind., the fourth-largest city in the 17th-largest state may be an unlikely candidate for Wall Street largesse. But Buttigieg leads his rivals in collecting contributions from the securities and investment industry, pulling in $935,000 through the first three quarters of this year, according to figures from the Center for Responsive Politics.
And as Buttigieg’s star has risen in Iowa as a credible alternative to former vice president Joe Biden, his support from financiers has surged. He nearly doubled his fundraising from the sector in the third quarter, raising about $435,000.
Buttigieg is trailed closely in his Wall Street haul by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who has raised $927,000 from the industry; Biden ($889,000); and Sen. Kamala Harris of Calif. ($765,000), according to figures from the center.
Unsurprisingly, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who have both made confronting the industry a centerpiece of their bids, have raised relative pittances from Wall Streeters. Warren has pulled in $214,000. And Sanders’s collections from Wall Street have been so meager, the sector doesn’t crack his top 20 source of funds.
One Democratic lobbyist for financial services interests said he cut a check to Buttigieg as a sort of insurance policy against Warren in case Biden stumbles. “I don’t want Warren to just be in a position of chasing. I want her to be chased as well,” he said. “I want to put pressure on her with a credible alternative … I don’t think Wall Street has a real great sense of what Mayor Pete might mean or not mean. But we do know what Warren means, and so I want part of every story about her to also be about him moving in tandem up the line.”
For those inclined to criticize Buttigieg’s support from Wall Street, campaign spokesman Chris Meagher noted “similar criticisms were leveled against Barack Obama, and he went on to establish the most aggressive regulation of the financial sector that we’d seen in decades. Pete will do what is right for our country, and is running to move our country forward by leading with bold ideas that the American people can unify around.”
“He is proud to have support from more than 600,000 people who have given everything from a couple of dollars online to the maximum contribution to his campaign,” Meagher said in an email. “And he will use those resources to beat Donald Trump in November 2020.” Buttigieg has defended his practice of attending high-dollar fundraisers on Wall Street and beyond by saying his campaign is "trying to reach everybody at every level.”
The candidate’s fundraising looks primed to continue benefiting from a contrast he is drawing with Warren, especially as the Massachusetts Democrat trades barbs with Wall Street titans. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon just entered that fray, telling CNBC that Warren “vilifies successful people.”
“I don’t like vilifying anybody,” he said. “I think we should applaud successful people.” JPMorgan employees have directed $39,890 to Buttigieg, making him the top recipient of the bank’s giving, per the center. Warren has raised roughly $6,000 from JPMorgan workers, federal records show. She responded to Dimon on Twitter:
The fact that they've reacted so strongly—so angrily!—to being asked to chip in more tells you all you need to know. The system is working great for the wealthy and well-connected, and Jamie Dimon doesn't want that to change. I'm going to fight to make sure it works for everyone.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 5, 2019
Warren is also in rhetorical firefight with billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman, who accused her of “s—ing” on the American dream, prompting her to respond he is only concerned about protecting his fortune.
And former Obama Treasury official Steven Rattner, who now manages Michael Bloomberg’s wealth, writes in a New York Times op-ed that a Warren presidency is a “terrifying prospect” because she would “effectively abandoning the limited-government model that has mostly served us well.” Rattner has contributed to a handful of more moderate Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Buttigieg, Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.).
Buttigieg’s list of donors reads in part like a who’s who of Wall Street heavy hitters. It includes: William Ackman, billionaire founder of Pershing Square Capital; Roger C. Altman, a former deputy treasury secretary and founder and senior chairman of the investment banking firm Evercore; Richard M. Cashin, founder of private equity firm One Equity Partners; Jonathan Gray, the billionaire president of Blackstone Group; billionaire hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, CEO of Avenue Capital Group; billionaire investor Daniel Ziff; Allen & Company investment banker Stanley S. Shuman; and Robert Wolf, a Wall Street fundraiser for Obama and founder of investment advisory firm 32 Advisors.
Warren has proposed a slate of legal and regulatory changes that threaten major financiers. She has called for breaking up the big banks; fundamentally remaking the private equity industry; and imposing a 2 percent wealth tax on households with more than $50 million, and a 6 percent tax on wealth above a billion dollars.
Buttigieg’s plans are fuzzier. Under a section on his campaign site labeled “Consumer Protections,” he calls for overhauling federal arbitration law to allow consumers to sue credit card companies in court; passing “strict regulations on predatory lenders;” and reviving the enforcement authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among others.
— Interest rates rise on trade deal optimism: “Bond yields have moved dramatically back and forth since last week’s Fed meeting, but they have moved higher most recently on reports that the U.S. and China are close to a phase one trade deal. Also, as the worst fears of a trade war have lifted, there has been a gradual steepening of the yield curve, which is now at its widest level since March,” CNBC’s Patti Domm reports.
- Dalls Fed prez calls it a good sign for monetary policy. Bloomberg's Justin Bachman: "Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan is taking comfort from the recent steepening in the yield curve and sees it as a sign that the U.S. central bank now has policy in the right place. 'I feel better with a more normally shaped yield curve,' Kaplan told Bloomberg News on Tuesday after speaking at an event in Dallas. Kaplan had voiced concern in the past that having the Fed’s benchmark policy rate above the entire Treasury yield curve was a warning that it had set rates too high."
— Pence’s USMCA sales pitch falters: “Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime free trader, has been pushing [Trump’s] new North American trade pact by traveling around the country slamming Democrats for being slow to hold a vote on the deal,” Politico’s Sabrina Rodríguez reports.
“But Pence’s pressure campaign, including appearances in 18 states and more than a dozen Democratic districts that voted for Trump, isn’t doing much to convince the targeted Democrats that they should move faster as they work with Trump’s top trade official to iron out the fine print on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Several Democratic lawmakers and aides told Politico that Pence’s roadshow instead is making them question whether the Trump administration is negotiating in good faith — or simply wants to bash Democrats going into 2020.”
- Key quote: “‘I think it’s very dumb for them to politicize USMCA when everyone is trying to get this done in an honest, bipartisan fashion,’ said Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) — whom Pence has called out by name on his national tour. ‘They’re not fooling anyone.’ ”
— U.S.-China trade war losses pile up on both sides: “There may be winners and losers from a political point of view when it comes to the trade war between the U.S. and China. But the latest data shows that economically, both sides are losers. And they can help explain why there is more talk of a deal: Losses are mounting into the tens of billions of dollars for the U.S. and China,” CNBC’s Steve Liesman reports.
“Politically, [Trump] can boast that China has lost far more than the U.S. in dollar terms. Compared with the first nine months of last year, trade data released Tuesday showed U.S. imports from China have fallen a sharp $53 billion. U.S. exports to China are down just $14.5 billion. But the U.S. exports much less to China than it imports. So even the much smaller drop is a bigger percentage fall.”
— CEOs win big when they block competitors with trade barriers: “The compensation of U.S. CEOs rises sharply when their companies gain import restrictions against foreign competitors, according to a new research paper,” Reuters’s Timothy Aeppel reports.
“The study compared executive pay — both direct compensation and incentives — at over 1,000 U.S. companies between 1994 and 2015, before and after those firms won import restrictions through antidumping and countervailing duty orders. It found CEO compensation rose an average of 17% after the barriers were in place.”
— A foreign meat company got your tax dollars. Now it wants to quash the competition: “ … Not all beneficiaries of the taxpayer-funded program are American farmers or patriots. JBS, a Brazilian company that is the largest meat producer in the world, has received $78 million in government pork contracts funded with the bailout funds — more than any other U.S. pork producer,” my colleague Kimberly Kindy reports.
“JBS’s winning hand in securing a quarter of all of the pork bailout contracts is one example of the power a small number of multinational meat companies now hold in the United States. JBS has become a major player in the United States even as it faces price-fixing and other investigations from the federal government. The company’s explosive growth through acquisitions over the past decade has been a dominant factor in the consolidation of the meat industry.”
— Trump’s visits fail to boost all his properties’ bottom lines: “As Trump concludes the tumultuous third year of his presidency, it is becoming clear that the political environment he helped create is having consequences for the real estate empire he and his family built,” my colleagues David A. Fahrenthold, Jonathan O'Connell, Joshua Partlow and Josh Dawsey report.
“While his properties have benefited from his repeated visits and business from conservative customers, there are signs that at least parts of the company are struggling, beset by financial setbacks, regulatory and legal battles, and a tarnished brand name. From the outside, it is not possible to gauge how serious those problems are for the company as a whole, and the Trump Organization declined to comment for this article. But, in recent days, the company has announced two other moves that seem sharply out of character.”
- The Trump organization said last month that it was considering selling the lease on its D.C. hotel
- “In New York the company recently redecorated two properties — a pair of ice rinks in Central Park — to remove or reduce in size uses of the name ‘Trump.’”
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— Walgreens reportedly explores going private: “Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. has been exploring whether to go private following private equity interest in the U.S. drug store chain, which has a market value of more than $55 billion, according to people familiar with the matter,” Reuters’s Greg Roumeliotis and Mike Spector report.
“In recent months, Walgreens has held preliminary discussions with some of the world’s largest private equity firms about putting together what would be the biggest ever leveraged buyout, the sources said. Walgreens has tasked investment bank Evercore Partners Inc with exploring whether a transaction can be put together, the sources said, cautioning that a deal is far from certain. Many private equity firms have pushed back on the idea, concerned about Walgreens’ business prospects and the challenges of financing the deal, the sources added.”
— Wall Street increasingly weighs climate risk: “In the wake of two years of devastating wildfires in California, Wall Street is incorporating a new risk metric when evaluating companies: climate resiliency,” Reuters’s David Randall reports. “Companies located in areas such as California, Florida and Louisiana that put them at a higher risk of being affected by more severe weather patterns are increasingly being asked how they will protect their businesses from climate change.”
— AT&T to pay $60 million to settle claims about misleading data plans: “AT&T has agreed to pay $60 million to resolve allegations it charged millions of customers for ‘unlimited’ data plans while significantly reducing speeds if they used too much data, the Federal Trade Commission announced,” my colleague Taylor Telford reports.
“Under the settlement, which resolves a 2014 FTC lawsuit, AT&T is barred from “making any representation about the speed or amount of its mobile data, including that it is ‘unlimited,’ without prominently disclosing relevant restrictions, according to an FTC news release. Hidden hyperlinks or fine print will not suffice, the agency said.”
- If you’re affected, the money will cover partial refunds: “Consumers will not have to submit a claim to receive a refund; current customers will receive a credit on their bills, and former customers will receive checks for what they are owed.”
— WeWork’s finances are still a mess, rivals say: “SoftBank may be rescuing WeWork with a $9.5 billion cash injection but most rivals say they believe the office space sharing company is still in critical condition,” Reuters’s Carrie Monahan and Sheila Dang report. “They say for Manhattan-based WeWork to survive it will need to slash costs and balance sheet risk, and it will need to do that fast without scaring off customers.”
- SoftBank lost $4.7 billion on its investment. WSJ's Phred Dvorak and Megumi Fujikawa: "SoftBank marked down the total value of WeWork’s equity to $7.8 billion, a long way from the startup’s $47 billion valuation before its attempt to go public backfired amid widespread skepticism about its profitability and management. 'My own investment judgment was really bad. I regret it in many ways,' Mr. Son said at a news conference in Tokyo after SoftBank released its earnings."
— New McDonald’s CEO doesn’t own a single share of the company: “Chris Kempczinski’s rapid ascent to the top job at McDonald’s Corp. has left him in a slightly awkward situation for a big-company leader: He doesn’t hold a single share in the restaurant chain,” Bloomberg News's Anders Melin reports.
“Some investors closely monitor executive stock sales, particularly at companies in turmoil. That said, Kempczinski’s scant ownership doesn’t necessarily mean he’s pessimistic about McDonald’s prospects, and equity awards he’ll receive as CEO will help him reach the required level of ownership.”
- The New York Times hosts its DealBook conference in New York, which features remarks from Bill Gates, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and others
- Office Depot, CBS Health, CenturyLink, Lumber Liquidators, Expedia Group, Humana, Fossil, Wendy’s, Papa John’s, GoDaddy and the New York Times are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger
- The CFPB hosts a symposium on Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which will feature remarks by director Kathleen Kraninger
- AMC Entertainment, NewsCorp, Wynn Resorts, Yelp Inc., Activision Blizzard, Monster Beverage, Party City, Ralph Lauren, Planet Fitness, Meredith and Nielsen are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger
- The Senate Banking Committee hosts a hearing on bipartisan bills to promote affordable housing
- Honda Motor, Duke Energy and Revlon are among the notable companies reporting their earnings, per Kiplinger
- China releases its latest trade figures, per WSJ