Big banks have benefited under Trump. Their employees give more to Biden.
WASHINGTON — Just days before the presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden is outpacing President Trump in donations from the largest U.S. banks.
As of Oct. 22, employees at the eight U.S. global systemically important banks — JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, State Street and Wells Fargo — had given more than four times as much to Biden as to Trump, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Donations for Biden exceeded $3.4 million, versus just over $750,000 for Trump. The figures were based on individual contributions by those employed at the eight institutions.
The advantage in individual donations to Biden runs somewhat counter to the benefits the GSIBs have received during the Trump administration, including cost savings under Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and a friendlier regulatory environment.
However, donations across the whole industry and and other political races are more equally distributed between the parties. In general, commercial banks are contributing more to Republicans than to Democrats — $22.7 million versus $20.7 million.
The disparity in donations from the megabanks can be partly explained by financial institutions’ desire for stability in the broader economy and financial markets, said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at Compass Point.
Trump's penchant for announcing new policies via Twitter has moved markets in the past. In August of last year, for example, when he tweeted that he planned to place new tariffs on China, the Nasdaq fell 3% and the Chinese yuan hit an 11-year low. Stocks also slid earlier this month when Trump tweeted that he was ending negotiations on fiscal stimulus talks.
“Macrostability means we don't have to live and die by tweet — that's directionally positive,” said Boltansky.
For some of the largest institutions, the disparity in donations for the two candidates was much wider than the average. For example, Biden has received more than 13 times as much in donations from Goldman Sachs employees than Trump.
The biggest U.S. banks during the 2016 election also supported then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over Trump, in a shift from the 2012 cycle, where Republican candidate Mitt Romney outpaced former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in fundraising from big-bank employees.
Although Biden is drawing in more support from Wall Street this election than Trump, Clinton was still able to rake in more donations than Biden has been able to thus far at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.
Meanwhile, big-bank contributions to Trump this election cycle have outpaced contributions to his 2016 campaign from all eight banks. They have increased by more than fourfold at the nation’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, a bank that has landed in hot water with regulators in both the Obama and the Trump administrations.
Wells Fargo is contributing the most money to Biden out of the eight GSIBs by far, with employees donating almost $922,000, followed by individual donations from JPMorgan, which totaled more than $772,000. Wells Fargo bankers are also giving the most money to Trump compared with the other banks, roughly $297,000, followed by Bank of America, totaling about $270,000.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon himself gave $2,800 — the maximum amount individuals can donate — last year to WinRed, a Republican fundraising platform, according to Federal Election Commission filings. State Street CEO Ronald O’Hanley donated $2,800 to Biden’s primary campaign and another $2,800 to his general election campaign.
Banks have enjoyed regulatory relief thanks to the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back the Dodd-Frank Act, but most aren’t anticipating that a Biden administration would reverse those actions, Boltansky said.
“There are some within these banks that would view Biden as a net positive even if their taxes go up, because there's a belief that he will not completely roll back the deregulatory actions of the Trump administration, and the more progressive policies will struggle to make their way through the Senate, given its composition,” Boltansky said.
That landscape is in stark contrast to the 2012 presidential election, two years after Dodd-Frank was passed, in which the nation’s largest banks contributed significantly more money to Romney. Donations to his campaign from Goldman Sachs and Bank of America both surpassed $1 million.
Banks could also be hoping for another hefty round of fiscal stimulus under Biden and a Democrat majority in the Senate, if Democrats gain control of both the executive and legislative branches. So far, Congress has been unable to agree on a follow-up to the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act from earlier this year, even though economists have warned that too little stimulus could mean a weaker economic recovery.