From plush penthouse apartments on the Upper East Side to bars in midtown Manhattan, New York’s financial community watched in stunned dismay on Wednesday as Republican Donald Trump clinched the White House.
An early party mood quickly soured as donors and supporters of Hillary Clinton realized that the Democratic candidate, Wall Street’s preferred choice because she represented the status quo, had lost.
Many were stuck for words.
“Not really much to say,” said Marc Lasry, a billionaire credit investor.
Trump’s unpredictable pronouncements and opposition to free-trade agreements have made the real estate mogul unpopular with many financiers, who fear that he could disrupt global trade and damage geopolitical relationships.
The U.S. dollar sank and stocks plummeted as investors fled risky assets. S&P 500 index futures crashed.
Joseph Peiffer, a lawyer who has represented investors and others in class-action lawsuits, cracked open a third bottle of wine, his “only in the case of an emergency” bottle, while watching the returns during an election night party he hosted for about 20 friends and family members in his hometown of New Orleans.
“This seems like enough of an emergency to break it open,” he said.
Trump’s pronouncements on the financial sector have perplexed Wall Street.
On the one hand, he has pledged to dismantle much of the regulation put in place after the financial crisis, known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. On the other hand, he has called for a “21st century” version of the 1933 Glass-Steagall law that required the separation of commercial and investment banking.
Trump has not said what that version would entail other than saying that he would prioritize “helping African-American businesses get the credit they need.”
“Sometimes you hear him on the stump criticizing the banks,” Peiffer said. “Then his policy paper says he wants to deregulate the bank. The two things don’t jive. But who knows what he really thinks. And we won’t know that until he does it.”
From “Delusional” to Right
For Trump supporters who work on Wall Street, his victory is a vindication.
“I’m very happy,” said Matthew Tyrmand, a private investor and contributor to the Breitbart News website, who was attending a Young Republicans party at a bar off Madison Avenue.
Tyrmand, who had shorted stocks ahead of the election—a bet that stock prices will fall—said he had been called “delusional” for predicting a Trump win.
Tyrmand said Trump would be good news for markets because he understands the benefit of letting businesses fail. He predicted equity markets would go through a prolonged correction before recovering.
“We will be healthier long term,” he said.
Around Tyrmand, other Trump supporters hugged one another, sang “God Bless America”, clinked glasses and called out “M-A-G-A!”—the acronym for Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
But in one corner of the bar, a man and a woman downed shots before starting on fresh pints of beer. Asked if the drinks were out of celebration or depression, the response was quick: “Depression,” the man said, declining to give his name. “But either way we drink”
Matthew Farley, a lawyer with Drinker Biddle & Reath in New York, said he had been warning friends and colleagues about an electoral upset for months.
“I told them that … a significant portion of the country wanted someone to do a cannonball into the pool and mess up the status quo,” said Farley, who advises Wall Street brokerages on regulation and arbitration issues.
“The cannonball party is not united. They’re progressives and conservatives, but they’re fed up with the status quo and all they know is that anything is better than what we got.”
Trump supporter Steven Chiavarone, associate portfolio manager for Federated Global Investment Management, a fund that invests in stocks, bonds and currencies globally, said the market gyrations should not be seen as a harbinger of doom.
“The world doesn’t end. Assuming capitalism survives, you manage through the volatility and then find the opportunity.”