Obama is short of fans on Wall Street

The other evening I went as a guest of friends to a dinner to raise money for a hospital in New York. This was the same hospital where my twins were prematurely born. On entering this world they weighed only 2lb and 3lb respectively, but went on to thrive. So I was glad to be at this event with friends whose company I always enjoy.

Until, that is, the comedian Jon Stewart, probably New York’s most beloved television host, started to speak and to my astonishment was heckled. The unlikely-looking heckler was a dark-haired woman whose jewels were bigger than she was.

Her problem was Stewart’s enthusiastic support for Barack Obama. “He’s a communist,” the woman yelled, while her table sat stony-faced. “His tax program will make us all poor.”

Stewart, to his credit, carried on with his speech, though he drily observed it was a tough crowd that night. The underlying reality is that though New York leans Democrat and will inevitably vote for Obama, the Wall Street community is very wary of his economic policies.

I have repeatedly heard from financiers that the only reason they are not voting for John McCain is his appalling judgment in picking Sarah Palin as his number two. “Raising taxes in this environment will create a depression” is the mantra one hears from the financial community, which hopes that once Obama is elected, as seems likely, he does not actually deliver on his promises.

They are very skeptical of what are perceived to be his so-called “Left-wing” economic advisers, including former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who, like the former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, has had his reputation tarnished by the credit crisis.

So, for Wall Street, this election is far from being the “exciting” moment the mainstream press would have us believe. “We’re between a rock and a hard place,” an ordinarily Democratic financier told me the other night.

Everyone agrees America needs a fresh face and new ideas. But most of all we need confidence in our leadership. And Wall Street, whatever you may think of it, needs to believe, too, if bankers are to lend and markets to get off the floor.

In other words, when he is elected, Obama needs to sweep even that irritating bejewelled lady off her feet.

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