Who's Wall Street's Candidate in the Presidential Race?

People of money love a frontrunner

Rick Reynecs, another RiskMetrics account manager, sipped from a glass of beer as he watched the Russian camera team roll tape. Reynecs used to be "your classic Wall Street Republican," he said, but eight years of Bush changed his politics forever. "It was this administration's lack of leadership in world affairs" that put him over the edge, he added. "One thing I don't like is faith-based politics. I don't like George Bush justifying a decision by saying that he talked to God." Unlike his colleague Relthford, Reynecs claimed that there are a lot more folks like him down Wall Street way than people think. "I think it's a sign of things to come," he said. "I think Hillary Clinton is definitely going to get a lot of support from some more conservative circles. I'm fairly certain I'm not the only former Republican disillusioned with George Bush."

Christina, who works in statistical analysis at the Federal Reserve Bank and refused to give her last name, agreed that the financial sector was going to have to accept that under a Clinton presidency, more regulation would be inevitable. "I think that Wall Street is going to be fine," she said. "So I'm not worried about some CEO losing his job."

But what kind of regulation would there be under Clinton? After all, that's partly what Wall Street's paying all that money to help decide. According to Keith Leggett, a senior economist with the American Bankers Association, a Wall Street lobbying group, the Democratic Congress is already moving on several fronts: predatory lending in the housing market; credit-card marketing practices and fees; credit-rating agencies that gave junk-mortgage-backed securities triple-A ratings and convinced investment firms to dig their own graves. But in his own understated way, Leggett promised that the housing market had already taken care of a lot of the problems, and argued that the feds would just screw things up if they went too fast.

"When we look at these markets, they have for the large part—the subprime market, and the securitization of subprime loans—largely disappeared," Leggett said. "This gives policy-makers the ability to go forward in a prudent and thoughtful fashion, to ensure that if you are going to engage in legislation, you do it in a manner that does not create unintended consequences."

This being an election year, Congress only has until the summer to work out the legislation before its members fly back to hit the stump. Many of these issues will simply have to wait until the next president shows up for work. And assuming Clinton makes it all the way, that's when she'll show her gaggle of earnest Wall Street volunteers what she's made of. As Relthford and his new friends confabbed about the next campaign event, three foreign-born Wall Street traders—from London, Mexico, and India—sucked down the suds a few feet away and doubted that anything would really change. "George Bush is on his way out, so anything else makes me happy," sniffed the Brit, who refused to give his name. "But it's interesting how much like Pakistan your politics have become. The family name is all that matters—a few more cycles and then Chelsea can run things."

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