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As Gov. Ron DeSantis circles a possible presidential run in 2024, top Wall Street executives are pouring tens of millions of dollars into the Florida Republican’s upcoming reelection campaign.
Billionaire hedge fund CEO Ken Griffin, who recently relocated his firm’s headquarters from Chicago to Miami, chipped in $5 million to Friends of Ron DeSantis — the governor’s state political action committee. Tudor Investment Corporation Founder and CIO Paul Tudor Jones has inked a series of six-figure checks over the last three years, as have former Illinois governor and private equity chieftain Bruce Rauner and Interactive Brokers chairman Thomas Peterffy.
DeSantis’s $142 million war chest — first reported on Monday by Bloomberg’s Bill Allison and Mark Niquette — could reflect an appetite among the GOP donor class for a Trump spoiler who’d be better positioned to capitalize on the public’s waning enthusiasm for another four years of President Joe Biden.
Despite flourishing via Trump-era tax cuts, private equity and banking executives overwhelmingly backed Democrats in 2020 as Trump dumped kerosene on long-simmering conflicts around race, class and income inequality. While Trump is considered the clear favorite for the 2024 GOP nod, donors have increasingly sounded alarms about his sway over the party — particularly as Trump-backed Senate candidates struggle in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Notably, it’s not just conservative Wall Street power brokers who are lining up behind DeSantis.
One of the largest checks that’s been cut to the governor’s PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, was a $500,000 contribution from Disruptor Inc.; a small investment firm led by former Virginia GOP gubernatorial hopeful Pete Snyder.
Snyder had leaned on MAGA bonafides during an unsuccessful primary run last year, and his firm’s hefty contribution to a potential Trump rival is notable given the degree to which he’d touted endorsements from former administration luminaries like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Ken Cuccinelli and Tim Murtaugh. In a not-so-subtle dig on his opponent Glenn Youngkin — a former Carlyle Group co-CEO who beat Snyder and went on to defeat Democrat Terry McAuliffe — Snyder claimed to be the only candidate who’d campaigned for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and “put his money where his mouth is and … donated nearly $50,000 to Trump election efforts.”
It should be said: A $500,000 check backing the reelection of one of Trump’s potential rivals doesn’t preclude Snyder — or Disruptor — from putting its money where its mouth is again should the former president announce his intention to run in 2024. But it is a sign of where some Republican donors in the world of finance have turned their attention — at least for now.
Snyder and Disruptor did not respond to requests for comment.
IT’S TUESDAY — Today’s the 52nd anniversary of when César Chávez and the United Farm Workers mounted the largest farm worker strike in U.S. history — known as the Salad Bowl Strike. Any dissension in the ranks where you work? Send tips, story ideas and feedback to [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected].
U.S. manufacturing and services PMIs released at 9:45 a.m. … New home sales data released at 10 a.m.
FIRST IN MM: FISCAL CONFIDENCE — Voters are feeling more upbeat about America’s fiscal sustainability following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. That’s according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s latest Fiscal Confidence Index, which jumped this month from an all-time low in July.
Voters were more likely to believe the national debt will improve over the next few years (30 percent, up from 22 percent in July), more optimistic about progress being made to reduce the debt (42 percent, up from 36 percent) and less concerned about the debt situation (33 percent thought it was on the right track, compared with 24 percent), according to the index.
COMMENT DEADLINES — August recess? Not for those following a flurry of proposed rules and pending decisions from Biden administration financial regulators.
The latest: The American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association and Bank Policy Institute in a joint letter objected to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s request for information about customer service practices at large banks, and challenged the legal basis for the inquiry. Read the full letter here.
Also: A joint letter from banking trade groups including the ABA, CBA, BPI and Independent Community Bankers of America says an FDIC proposal to increase the rates banks pay to fund the deposit insurance program “rests on incomplete, outdated analysis.” The ICBA in a separate letter said the proposed change would disproportionately impact small banks.
FINANCIAL EXCLUSION — A new report from the Joint Economic Committee finds nearly one in five U.S. adults are either unbanked or underbanked, and of the roughly 20 percent who lack access to a bank account or rely on alternative financial services, a disproportionate share are lower-income earners or people of color.
ADEYEMO’S INDIA TRIP — Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo is in India this week for meetings with his counterparts, as well as with financial services and energy industry executives. “[T]he world economy is at a turning point, the outcome of which will depend in no small part on the economic relationship between our two countries,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Economic Times of India Sunday.
Adeyemo said he plans to discuss infrastructure investment and energy security, including “steps we can jointly take to put downward pressure on energy prices” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (U.S. officials have been trying to build support for a cap on the price of Russian oil.)
STEPPING UP RUSSIA SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT — WSJ’s Ian Talley: “The U.S. has imposed a set of powerful sanctions against Russia’s economy to punish it for the invasion of Ukraine. Now, U.S. officials are pushing to ensure they are effective, closing loopholes, lobbying other nations for support, and cracking down on people abetting Russia’s evasion.”
SHRINKING DEFICITS AND THE FED’S BALANCE SHEET — WSJ’s Sam Goldfarb: “A shrinking federal budget deficit is providing a major boost to investors, enabling the Treasury Department to cut longer-term debt issuance despite the Federal Reserve’s recent move to buy fewer bonds.
“The prospect of the Fed shrinking its bondholdings, a policy known as quantitative tightening, or QT, has long been a nagging concern for investors. While it is early to conclude that the Fed maneuver won’t hit markets, the strong rally in stocks and bonds in recent months suggests that the relationships are more complicated than many analysts had assumed.”
FORD LAYOFFS — WSJ’s Nora Eckert: “Ford Motor Co. confirmed Monday it is laying off roughly 3,000 white-collar and contract employees, marking the latest in its efforts to slash costs as it makes a longer-range transition to electric vehicles. Ford sent an internal email Monday to employees, saying it would begin notifying affected salaried and agency workers this week of the cuts.”
Where? The workforce reduction mostly targets employees in the U.S., Canada and India, WSJ reports. “About 2,000 of the targeted cuts will be salaried jobs at the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker. The remaining 1,000 employees are working in contract positions with outside agencies, the company said.”
PANDEMIC BOOMTOWNS COOL OFF — Bloomberg’s Paulina Cachero: “Home sellers in pandemic boomtowns are slashing prices as they adapt their expectations to a rapidly cooling market. Take Boise, Idaho, where 70% of houses for sale dropped their asking price in July, more than double the 30% that cut prices a year earlier. It’s also the highest share of price drops out of 97 US metro areas analyzed by online brokerage Redfin.”
Meanwhile in the Hamptons: Homes with price drops made up 11% of the overall Hamptons market in July, almost double the level in April, per Bloomberg’s Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.
A WALL STREET BUILT ON BLOCKCHAIN — WSJ’s Paul Vigna: “Wall Street’s biggest banks have largely avoided investing directly in cryptocurrencies. But many are quietly working to integrate blockchain, the technology behind crypto, into trading and other businesses.
“Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is already trading some bonds and other debt securities for clients on blockchain-based networks such as Ethereum, and the bank is building its own blockchain-based trading platform. JPMorgan Chase & Co. already has a platform in place, called Onyx.”
SETTLEMENT ON THE BLOCKCHAIN — Trade clearing service provider Depository Trust & Clearing Corp has launched a new blockchain-enabled settlements platform, known as Project Ion, that’s capable of processing as many as 160,000 transactions per day. Murray Pozmanter, who’s president of DTCC’s clearing agency services and heads its global business operations, said Project Ion’s distributed ledger technology could open “the door to exciting, new opportunities to drive greater efficiencies, risk management and cost savings for the industry.”
Jeremy Newell will return to the Bank Policy Institute as a senior fellow starting Sept. 1. Newell, a former Fed lawyer and partner at Covington & Burling, served previously as general counsel and chief operating officer of BPI, when The Clearing House and Financial Services Roundtable merged in 2018 to form the new organization.
Renato Mariotti has joined the law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner as a partner in the firm’s litigation and investigations practice in the Chicago office. Mariotti is a former federal prosecutor in the Justice Department’s securities and commodities fraud section, and was previously a partner with Thompson Coburn in Chicago. He’s also the legal affairs columnist for Politico Magazine.
The IPO market is on pace for its worst year in decades, leaving fledgling companies with few options but to burn through cash while they wait for the stock market to calm. — WSJ’s Corrie Driebusch
Britain recorded its biggest fall in output in more than 300 years in 2020 when it faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a larger decline than any other major economy, updated official figures showed on Monday. — Reuters’ David Milliken