Wall Street Hopes For a Kinder, Gentler Obama
When President Barack Obama takes the stage at Monday’s Town Hall event, many on Wall Street will be watching to see if he keeps up his attacks on banking executives as "fat cats" or adopts a more conciliatory tone.
For most of this year, Wall Street has felt it has been under siege by the White House. The Obama administration has positioned itself against Wall Street on the level of policy and with heated rhetoric.
But in recent weeks, the White House has been reaching out to Wall Street behind the scenes. White House officials have placed calls to top executives at major financial firms with the message that the administration does not view Wall Street as an antagonist, according to several sources familiar with the conversations.
The big question Wall Street is wondering is which Obama will appear at the Town Hall: the conciliator or the fat-cat-bashing populist?
Wall Street and the administration have been at odds over bonuses and the Volcker Rule. But it is the fiery rhetoric that seems to have most alienated Wall Street from the president.
"The president tried to deflect attention from his inability to get the economy rolling by bashing Wall Street. That’s just cheap politics," one Wall Street executive recently told CNBC.
No one expects a major pro-Wall Street change of policy from Obama on Monday. But they would like to hear less of an “us-versus-them” tone from the president.
"While I'd like to get the sense that Obama is calling a truce in his war against Wall Street, I'm not exactly sure I can keep that particular hope alive," said David Katona of Abundance Partners, a New York based hedge fund.