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Trumps the brazen pact with the 0.001 percent

Trumps the brazen pact with the 0.001 percent
Trumps the brazen pact with the 0.001 percent

 


One thing we can say with certainty about Joe Biden's three and a half years in office: it has been a very rewarding time for an American capitalist. Since the end of 2020, the S.&P. 500 rose almost fifty percent and companies in the index saw their earnings per share almost double. Big banks, hedge funds and private equity funds have all made huge profits; The Financial Times recently reported that the founders and executives of the largest private equity groups in the United States have seen the value of their shares increase by more than $40 billion since the start of 2023. This rising tide has also benefited many investors and world leaders. technology sector. According to the Institute for Regional Studies, a Silicon Valley research group, the market capitalization of Silicon Valley-based companies reached $14.3 trillion last year, and venture capital funding reached the figure incredible 30 billion dollars.

How grateful is the capitalist class to Biden for presiding over this shower of wealth? In some cases, not at all grateful, it seems. In recent weeks, the political media has been awash with stories about Wall Street bigwigs and tech barons throwing their support behind Donald Trump, whom some of them disowned after the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. At the time, billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group, a major private equity firm, denounced the attack as appalling and an affront to the democratic values ​​we hold dear as a nation. Americans. Last month, Schwarzman released a statement: “I intend to vote for change and support Donald Trump for president. The Financial Times reported that Bill Ackman, the billionaire hedge fund manager who campaigned to have Claudine Gay removed as Harvard president over her handling of pro-Palestinian campus protests, would soon also bring his support for Trump.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, tech investor and Elon Musk associate David Sacks recently hosted an expensive fundraiser for Trump in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood, not far from where Nancy Pelosi lives. Sacks said the event attracted about 100 people and raised $12 million. Musk himself met with Trump in Palm Beach on March 3, the Wall Street Journal reported. So far, the world's richest man does not appear to have donated to Trump's campaign. But, according to the Journal, the two men have developed a friendly relationship and speak on the phone several times a month in the run-up to the election.

In interpreting these developments, it is important to note that, until very recently, Trump was well behind Biden in terms of overall fundraising. According to figures compiled by OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan organization that tracks money in politics, as of mid-May, the Trump campaign and groups associated with it had raised about two hundred and forty-four million dollars, while the Biden campaign and its affiliates had raised about $244 million. more than three hundred million. In terms of individual industries, Trump raised significantly less money than Biden in the tech sector, the latest data from OpenSecrets shows. On the other hand, in the financial and energy sectors, Trump had a considerable lead: about sixty-four million dollars compared to about forty-one million.

In this context, Trump absolutely needed to raise more money, especially since his campaign was spending large sums on its legal costs. They seem to have changed the situation. The campaign and the Republican National Committee say they raised $141 million in May, a third of which came from online donations hours after a New York jury found Trump guilty of dozens of crimes related to the secret money. paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. These fundraising figures are not yet confirmed. Both campaigns are expected to submit their latest numbers to the Federal Election Commission later this week. But when I called Scott Bessent, a Republican hedge fund manager who recently co-hosted fundraisers for Trump in South Carolina and Palm Beach, he told me that the shift to Trump around the world financial was palpable. .

I think the Wall Street guys kept coming back, said Bessent, who has been mentioned as a possible Treasury secretary if Trump is elected. It was just a question of when. When I asked whether taxes, regulations or economic policy were the main underlying factors, he replied: “All of the above and more.” Bessent, who was chief investment officer at the family office run by Democratic megadonor George Soros before founding his own company, Key Square Capital, said Trump's conviction acted as an accelerant in the process of Republican donors returning to the fold. You have the feeling, he said, that Leviathan might be coming for you. Bessent was speaking from London, where the previous evening he had hosted another Trump fundraiser, at which Donald Trump Jr. was in attendance. I asked him what he would say to those who consider it scandalous that the rich are donating large sums of money to a candidate trying to overthrow American democracy. I reject that he tried to overthrow democracy, replied Bessent. And I haven't seen Marc Elias or Jaime Harrison, Democratic election lawyer and chair of the Democratic National Committee, respectively, say they would honor the November 5 result if Trump wins.

Trump's fundraising efforts have included a brazen solicitation of donations from individuals and business interests who have big stakes in regulatory decisions. Last month, the Washington Post reported on a meeting Trump had in April at his Mar-a-Lago estate with top energy executives. According to the Post article, Trump said that if elected, he would reverse Biden administration policies that restricted Arctic oil and gas drilling and froze liquefied natural gas export permits. In pressuring energy executives to donate to his campaign, he told them that giving $1 billion would be a good deal…because of the taxes and regulations that 'they would avoid.

Given this type of influence peddling, it's no surprise that Trump outperformed Biden in the energy sector. In courting Wall Street, Trump's fundraising appeals may not have been as explicit. However, they were quite clear. Under Biden, the Securities and Exchange Commission, led by Gary Gensler, pursued a broad agenda of reforms, which included prosecuting crypto exchanges for acting as unregistered broker-dealers and introducing new disclosure requirements regarding climate change and other issues for all public companies. Trump has said publicly and privately that he will gut regulatory agencies, fire Gary Gensler and eliminate many reporting requirements, Charles Myers, president and founder of Signum Global Advisors, a financial advisory firm and longtime donor date for Democratic candidates, told me. All of this is of interest to some people in the financial services industry.

Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, an organization that represents many of the city's CEOs, told Politico that some Republican business leaders have told her that the threat to capitalism from Democrats is more concerning than the threat to democracy. of Trump. I contacted Wylde to ask why business leaders felt this way, and she sent me a statement from Joe Biden on the latest monthly jobs report, which accused Republicans of siding with big corporations oil companies to raise utility bills, leaving big banks to rip off Americans. and explode the debt by cutting taxes on billionaires. Wylde also wrote me a note that said: “The White House's rhetoric about banks, billionaires and corporations helps explain why some business executives are worried and might give to Trump. The specific issues I hear mentioned regarding frustration with the Biden administration are related to the regulatory actions of the FTC, DoJ, and SEC… My feeling is that taxes are not the main issue.

Under the leadership of Biden appointees Lina Khan and Jonathan Kanter, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department have sued a number of private sector giants, including Amazon, Google and Live Nation-Ticketmaster, on monopoly grounds. . Wylde, in her memo, highlighted Biden-era antitrust actions against companies that she said are clearly not monopolistic under the classic American definition. She cited the Justice Department's lawsuit seeking to block a merger between JetBlue and Spirit, as well as the FTC's lawsuit seeking to block a fashion industry merger that would have combined the Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors brands. In both cases, regulators argued that the proposed deals would eliminate competition and harm consumers.

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