Annie Lowrey, Slate.com
Wall Street hates Barack Obama. That much, we know. But why? Just three years ago, he was Wall Street’s favored candidate. After being elected, he helped bail them out. He stopped Congress from going after their pay. He rejected proposals for radical reforms like breaking up the biggest banks. You would think Wall Street would give Obama a big Christmas bonus this year. Instead, they’re mobilizing against him.
There have been several competing theories for why the finance industry has turned on the White House. One is policy: The administration pushed through the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill, which tamps down on proprietary trading, leverage, and other tools banks use to increase profits. Another is ideology: Wall Street fingered Obama as a socialist, seeking to redistribute its hard-earned capital gains to the lazy and poor. A third explanation is psychology: Obama clearly doesn’t respect Wall Street. Therefore, Wall Street hates him.
All of those may be—and probably are—part of the story. But now there is a new and far more concrete contributor to the antipathy. Perhaps Wall Street hates Obama because Wall Street is doing terribly—and everybody blames the incumbent when the economy turns sour. The big investment banks are hardly broke—they remain, for the most part, profitable enterprises. But they are not thriving in the way they were a year or even six months ago, and they are dropping employees and slashing bonuses as profits tumble.