(Bloomberg News) Campaign season has been rough on Wall Street, with President Barack Obama demonizing Bain Capital Partners LLC when challenger Mitt Romney was its leader, and Romney himself bringing unwanted scrutiny to private equity.
Wall Street has decided overwhelmingly to back Romney so far. The Republican has collected $9.4 million from the investment and securities industry, according to the Washington- based Center for Responsive Politics. Obama has amassed $3.4 million, hurt by comments about "fat cat bankers" and an advertising campaign against Romney's private-equity record.
"I grew up middle class, and now I'm part of the 1 percent and I shouldn't feel bad about that," said Anthony Scaramucci, a former Obama supporter and current Romney backer who runs hedge-fund investor SkyBridge Capital LLC. "I don't subscribe to the president's anti-business rhetoric -- we should be a country based on class movement, not class warfare."
Bankers and traders may see little relief even if Romney wins. With a record U.S. deficit, rising unemployment and an anti-rich mood born of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the former Massachusetts governor may be forced to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and go back on his campaign promise to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, the 2010 law meant to bring more regulation to banks.
"Given where the congressional elections are going, it's not clear he's going to be able to move in any direction," said Stan Collender, a managing director at Washington-based public relations firm Qorvis Communications and a former federal budget policy director at two international accounting firms.
"A President Romney would have the same kind of problems that a President Obama has had," he said. "The ability to repeal Dodd-Frank will be just as limited next year as it is this year."
The potential for continued gridlock hasn't stopped billionaire hedge-fund managers Daniel Loeb, Paul Tudor Jones and Ken Griffin from switching their allegiances to Romney this election. Four years ago, Wall Street executives were among Obama's biggest backers, collectively donating $16 million to his campaign.
The swings in support have been extreme. Chicago-based Griffin contributed $4,600 to Obama in 2008 and helped raise more than $50,000 for his campaign. This time he's contributed more than $2 million to two Republican Super-PACs.
"Mitt Romney understands that the private sector is the source of economic growth and job creation," Griffin said in November when he announced he would back Romney. "His ideas can help get America's economy moving again and start putting people back to work."