Here are three reasons why Wall Street should be worried about the current presidential candidates:
1) Trade: If any of the leading candidates are elected, you can kiss goodbye to free trade. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump are against the Trans Pacific Partnership that would eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs and make it easier for U.S. products to compete abroad.
Historically, countries have resorted to trade protectionism during periods of economic downturn. But Obama didn't ratchet up tariffs during the recession. Instead, he realized that we cannot hide in a globalized world and signed trade agreements like the one with South Korea. Moreover, Wall Street banks operate in many countries, so if the U.S. adopts trade barriers, other nations may counter by prohibiting American firms to conduct business in these various jurisdictions.
2) The economy: Cruz supports a flat tax that is unlikely to raise enough revenue to cover the government's costs, and which would explode the deficit (after it has narrowed in each of the last five years) and perhaps dampen growth. Donald Trump is proposing a dramatic overhaul of the tax code. Clinton and Sanders want rich people to pay more in taxes. All of these policies would be a jolt to the status quo, which ain't bad right now.
Obama has turned around the worst economy since the Great Depression: 9 million new jobs, 5 percent unemployment rate, 20 percent increase in business start-ups. Indeed, some things haven't improved significantly like wage growth, and GDP growth isn't robust. But by and large, the economy is better, and the financial sector benefits from a growing economy. Don't forget that if Obama didn't act decisively, the country may have slipped into depression, which could have spelled more bank failures and fewer bonuses.