Usually, bankers start to salivate when they see the GOP convention on the horizon. It's that once every four years chance to get some major whale clients in one city and drum up new business while doing a little lobbying.
This year, the one-stop shop for cementing those power revenue relationships is in Cleveland, but that's not the only reason most of the big banks are reportedly bucking tradition and staying away. That conspicuous honor goes to the new orange face of the Republican party...
But with real estate mogul Donald Trump running on an anti-trade, populist platform — while sporting sky-high unpopularity ratings — many bankers and traders want nothing to do with the convention this year.
Neither do most corporate CEOs. The prospect of Trump bashing trade deals and talking about building a wall with Mexico, coupled with the threat of potentially disruptive protests, is largely keeping the financial world away from Cleveland.
That's from Politico's Ben White, who seems to have taken something of an unofficial straw poll among the big boys and learned that there is a uniformity to the avoidance of the greatest city on the southern coast of Lake Erie.
So far, no major Wall Street CEOs have said they plan to attend the convention. JPMorganChase, which played a sponsorship role in 2012, declined to do so this year. Goldman Sachs will also be largely absent, as will Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Citigroup plans only a low-key presence.
While it's maybe not surprising to be hear that Michael Corbat's bank is eschewing high-wattage, In Da Club behavior, it is pretty jarring to see JPM and Goldman sit on their hands during a major party convention. And inside 200 West Street especially, interest in The Cleve is seemingly nil.
At Goldman, typically one of the most politically engaged banks on Wall Street, there may be almost no one at all going to Cleveland. “I asked around and couldn’t find a single person who planned to be there,” said one Goldman executive who declined to be quoted by name. “Most people who want to see someone from the Trump campaign can do it some other place at some other time. And the potential is there for Cleveland to be a complete shit show. It’s a real problem for executives because if you go you are certainly going to offend women and minority groups within your own company.”
But while the big banks staying away from his convention is bad for Trump in terms of both optics and fundraising, it's also not too great for planners over at the Democratic convention who will now have to do without a lot of participation from the big banks as well. Because while they have and will contribute to Hillary in droves, it looks bad to be involved in one convention and not in another.
Then again, while Trump would perhaps like to have the support of Jamie, Lloyd, Brian and their ilk - what with being the business genius candidate and all - not having the big bankers at her convention gives Hillary a little more cover to keep up appearances that she will actually make good on her pledge to Sanderistas and play hardball with her friends on Wall Street.
Regardless of how it plays out, there seems to be no getting around the fact that Cleveland and Philly will not be getting the high-roller economic injection they hoped for and it will remain hard to get a table at hot spots in The Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard all summer long.