By Emily Glazer and Liz Hoffman

Aug. 12, 2020

Wall Street’s warm welcome to Joe Biden’s running mate reflects a belief that tougher financial regulation isn’t a top priority

With Kamala Harris as his vice presidential pick, Biden pointed to her tough-on-banks record. Much of Wall Street cheered anyway.

The warm welcome reflects some relief that in choosing Ms. Harris, Mr. Biden has—for now at least—fended off the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party that has called for tougher financial regulation. During her own primary campaign, Ms. Harris managed to impress a Wall Street set that tends to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

As Mr. Biden’s running mate, they see a noncontroversial partner—closely aligned with him on the issues nearest and dearest to their hearts—and an asset with big donors. About half a dozen leaders in business and finance said they expect Ms. Harris to be a moderate voice committed to rebuilding an economy upended by the coronavirus pandemic. They expect her to take some swings at Wall Street; as California attorney general, she helped take big banks to task for their role in the foreclosure crisis, and she has proposed taxing financial transactions to pay for a health-care overhaul. But they said they won’t take it personally.

“I think she is a reasonable, rational person who has worked in the system,” said Bill Daley, Wells Fargo & Co.’s head of public affairs and a former chief of staff to President Obama. “Is she a progressive? Yes. Is she someone who wants to burn the building down? No. I think she wants to strengthen the building.” Ms. Harris proved adept at courting wealthy donors in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard while speaking credibly to middle-class concerns.

She sought input—and money—from CEOs across industries for her campaign in listening sessions, and touted her record supporting small-business owners at an event in Iowa sponsored by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the Wall Street powerhouse. Blair Effron, co-founder of boutique investment bank Centerview Partners who donated to Ms. Harris’s presidential primary campaign, called her “direct but constructive.”

He said Ms. Harris thinks big business has “a responsibility to be part of the solution, but she makes clear how we will all benefit with shared prosperity.” Ms. Harris’s record as a prosecutor could signal a tougher stance on consumer protection, but new financial regulation—much of it relaxed under President Trump—is likely to take a back seat to the more immediate task of repairing the economy.


This article first appeared in the Wall St. Journal