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Thursday, 19 January 2017
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Nov 1 2010 | 11:28am ET
Wall Street and Washington have always been joined at the hip, and despite President Barack Obama's banker-bashing rhetoric, industry watchers say this tight-knit relationship is unlikely to change anytime soon.
"If you talk to these guys on Wall Street, they're going to come back to [Obama]," said Charlie Gasparino, senior correspondent for Fox Business Network. "[Wall Street's] flirtation with the Republicans right now is somewhat of a hedge.... They do very well off of a divided government."
Gasparino's comments came at last week's FINforums event, Power, Politics and Hedge Funds, in which attendees gathered in New York to listen to financial industry experts discuss the effect that government policies are having on the financial services industry.
In a one-on-one fireside chat, moderator John Seigenthaler, CEO of Seigenthaler Public Relations, NY, asked hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci what he thought tomorrow's mid-term elections would bring.
"I do think that the Democrats are going to get trounced. Now are they going to lose both houses? That I don't know," said Scaramucci, founder and managing director of SkyBridge Capital, which has over $7 billion in assets under management and advisory. But like Gasparino, Scaramucci isn't writing off President Obama just yet.
"I think the President is highly likely to get re-elected, despite what you see going on right now," he said, adding somewhat jokingly that Obama has something that the other candidates don't: "He's got that blue and white plane."
While talk touched briefly on the likely winners and losers in the mid-term race, the underlying current of the event was the need for long-term, practical solutions to spur business development and employment—both inside and outside of the financial industry.
"We have gigantic problems in this country," said Scaramucci. "[Angry rhetoric] is not going to be the winning strategy for the society. We need a much longer-term thought process and decision making process if we are to get ourselves out of this."
The Thwack Heard Round The World
Scaramucci knows a little something about angry rhetoric—or at least about being on the receiving end of it. Last month at a town hall meeting with Obama, Scaramucci asked the president when he was going to stop treating Wall Street like a piñata and whacking it with a stick. The hedge fund manager thought his question was an opportunity for the president to dial down his anti-Wall Street rhetoric. No dice.
"He took the baseball bat out, he didn't just stop with the piñata stick," Scaramucci told the audience, adding that while he views himself as a middle-class kid, the American public views him as a Wall Street fat cat.
"The irony is that SkyBridge was almost No Bridge during the crisis. It was almost Blown-up Bridge," joked the Long Island native, adding that his firm was too small to get bailout money, and, like any small business owner, he had to manage his company prudently to survive the crisis.
"We were taking the onslaught from the bad decisions that were made on Wall Street as much as anybody else," Scaramucci said. "But my point to the president, rightly or wrongly, was that when you are singling out one industry that is 15% of the Standard & Poor's 500, the other 85% are frozen in their tracks.... You paralyze people.... I voted for the president, I supported the president, but I think he is really off on this and he's hurting the country."
While Scaramucci is always armed with a quick fact illustrating America's problems—"We've got $60 trillion plus dollars in unfunded entailments that we can honestly not afford"—the always optimistic entrepreneur summed up his thoughts on a high note.
"These are fixable problems, but it is going to require strong political will and people in this room who are normally agnostic to politics to get themselves involved," he said.