Trump and Wall Street: A divorce of convenience
In publicly breaking with Trump, banks and corporates are set to make scrutiny of their choices more intense, not less. This is a good thing.
Corporate outrage rarely looks like the noblest of sentiments. There was certainly no shortage of it in the wake of January 6’s riot in the US Capitol by supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump.
Faced with the crossing of a line that few could ignore, financial institutions and corporate titans fell over themselves to present their pristine credentials.
Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan announced plans to pause political donations, with the latter’s CEO Jamie Dimon stating on Wednesday that it was “taking a pause, a little bit of a deep breath, figuring out what we should change and how we should change it”.
Whether through bans on political funding, or pledges to stop doing business with Trump individually or his enterprises collectively – or moves by social media companies to silence his most prominent channels – many of the measures now being announced are, however, characterized by little more than their convenience.
The blanket nature of some moves also seems nonsensical. Suspending all political donations risks looking like the kind of ‘drain the swamp’ mentality that fed the Trump bandwagon.
Likewise, short-term suspensions of funding hardly look rooted in principle – raising the suspicion of a quiet resumption when no one is looking or a hedging of one’s bets.