The Tell: Survey of investors shows growing anxiety over Elizabeth Warren’s rise in presidential polls
As Elizabeth Warren’s poll numbers rise, so does anxiety on Wall Street.
That’s a according to a survey of U.S. institutional equity investors published Tuesday by RBC Capital Markets, which showed a declining share of money managers expect President Donald Trump to win reelection next year. A rising expect the Democratic nomination to go to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
In addition, while a majority of investors say that a victory next November by former Vice President Joe Biden — who held a commanding lead in pre-primary polls until recently — would be neutral for markets, 89% of respondents said a win by a Democrat other than Biden would be “bearish or very bearish” for U.S. equities.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.26%, S&P 500 index SPX, -0.53% and Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -1.13% have all fared well during both the Democratic Obama and Republican Trump administrations, but investors appear to fear that a leftward lurch in policy proposals from Democratic Party candidates could be a game-changer.
While the survey showed a majority of smart-money investors growing slightly more optimistic about stock market performance over the coming six to 12 months since RBC’s last survey in June, “one exception — where views actually took a turn for the worse, from a stock market perspective — was politics,” wrote Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets in a research note accompanying the survey results.
“Most still think Trump will win re- election in 2020, but those holding that view declined for the second survey in a row,” she added. “Meanwhile, those expecting Biden to win the Democratic nomination fell as those expecting Warren to win the nomination rose sharply.”
Growing belief in Warren’s chances to capture the Democratic Party nomination for president reflect polling trends. A Quinnipiac primary poll of Democrats and independent voters whom lean Democratic, released Wednesday, showed Warren with a slight edge over Biden. And while national poll averages still have Biden in the lead, surveys of key primary states, including Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus show Warren with broader support.
Thierry Wizman, strategist at Macquarie, wrote in a Tuesday research note that there are several reasons why a Warren presidency could be bad for markets. Aside from populist tax and regulatory proposals that would require congressional approval, a Warren presidency would likely not relieve markets of the protectionist policies that Trump has instituted unilaterally.
“Why is this important? Unlike Biden, Warren is not an internationalist free-trader. Her platform of ‘economic patriotism” stipulates countries that trade freely with the U.S. must uphold international labor standards, protect human rights, and [meet] environmental requirements,” he wrote. “Clearly, this would not favor building on U.S. trade ties with China, nor removing Trump-era tariffs on China.”
Meanwhile, Warren’s tough rhetoric toward big business in general and Wall Street in particular has caused consternation among investors, even if her boldest proposals would need broad support in Congress to institute, which is unlikely to materialize even in a Democratic wave election, given the dynamics of the U.S. Senate.
Leon Cooperman, the billionaire founder of hedge fund Omega Advisors hyperbolized during the CNBC Delivering Alpha conference last week that, “They won’t open the stock market if Elizabeth Warren is the next president.”
He later elaborated that, of course, the market would open but that her election would catalyze a bear market that would send stocks 25% lower.