Feb 4, 2020

Analysis | The Finance 202: Big city Democratic donors may end up influencing the 2020 contest more than the Iowa caucuses

By Tory Newmyer


Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks at a campaign event at the Dollarhide Community Center in Compton, Calif., Monday. (Scott Varley/The Orange County Register via AP)
The chaotic finish in the Iowa Democratic caucuses is renewing the debate over the outsize power conferred on an oddball process in a small, overwhelmingly white state.
But new data from a shadow primary that is equally important — the race for campaign cash — reveal another geographic skew: Rich neighborhoods in major coastal cities remain the fundraising engines for most of the top-tier candidates.
And New York City is the runaway leader among these urban money centers. City residents gave $32 million to active candidates, with wealthy neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn giving the most, according to a study by the Center for Public Integrity:

Manhattan donors appear to be favoring Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, per a Washington Post analysis of census and campaign finance data — with the green representing Buttigieg, orange representing Warren and purple representing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):

And here's a closer look at Washington, D.C., donors, who break down similarly:

The data point to a divide between the relative wealth of those providing a critical resource for Democratic hopefuls and the voters they are seeking to convince. And perhaps not surprisingly, more moderate candidates — those proposing less-ambitious policy plans, requiring less new revenue from wealthier taxpayers — claim the wealthiest donor bases. “Donors in the highest-income neighborhoods preferred Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), [Buttigieg], and former vice president Joe Biden,” my Post colleagues Kevin Schaul, Anu NarayanswamyReuben Fischer-Baum and Michelle Ye Hee Lee report.

Conversely, the most liberal candidates in the field — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Warren — have sought to make a selling point of their commitment to eschewing traditional fundraising methods, focusing instead on fostering small-donor networks. And, indeed, Sanders built a nationwide base of 1.4 million contributors that catapulted him into 2020 with $18 million, more than any of his rivals who aren’t self-funding. The self-described democratic socialist has raised 38 percent of his money from Zip codes with a median household income of $50,000-$74,999, and, her Manhattan strength notwithstanding, the balance of Warren’s cash has come from similarly modest areas, per Public Integrity:

The fundraising distinctions between these candidates may soon be rendered quaint by another spending force coming out of Manhattan. Former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg skipped the Iowa caucuses altogether and won’t contest the next three contests. Instead, he’s marshaling the effectively bottomless resources of his own wealth to mount a major stand on Super Tuesday.
Bloomberg has spent more than $300 million from his own deep pockets on his 2020 bid so far — more than lapping the outlays from Tom Steyer, another self-funding billionaire and the next biggest spender in the race. Bloomberg claims a fortune worth roughly $61.5 billion.
And the ex-mayor has indicated he plans to keep his campaign operation, which already numbers more than 1,000 people, up and running through the general election, regardless of whether he wins, to help defeat President Trump.
In the meantime, the longer more moderate Democratic voters fail to rally around a single candidate, the stronger the position Bloomberg will be in to claim that banner when the race hits a slew of big states, including California and Texas, on March 3.
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A mess in Iowa. The Post's Isaac Stanley-Becker: "Shortly before midnight, the Iowa caucuses were in a state of suspended confusion — with precincts unable to communicate results, state party officials huddling with aides to the top candidates and, above all, a blemish on the process held out by the state as a model of civic engagement.
"The state party predicted results would arrive sometime Tuesday, and there was no suggestion of malfeasance or a corrupted outcome, but the delay meant the global spotlight trained on Iowa illuminated yet another hiccup in the workings of American democracy... Meanwhile, with no results reported, Buttigieg effectively declared himself the winner — telling supporters during an overnight appearance that, in Iowa, “an improbable hope became and undeniable reality.”
Warren's supporters stayed on message, per the Post's Annie Linskey:
Amazingly the crowd at Warren’s event began chanting C-F-P-B!
— Annie Linskey (@AnnieLinskey) February 4, 2020
And there is an irony in this Warren's deputy policy director:
.@ewarren won the caucus held at the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines. Appropriate.
— Bharat Ramamurti (@BharatRamamurti) February 4, 2020
Global stocks rally. Wall Street Journal's Caitlin Ostroff: "Stocks rose Tuesday on speculation that global economic growth will prove to be resilient as fiscal and monetary policies blunt the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on China’s economy. Futures linked to the S&P 500 index gained 1%. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 rose over 1%, while the Shanghai Composite Index ended the day up 1.3%, following a steep selloff Monday.
"Fresh data in recent days showing that global manufacturing appeared to be steadying, along with the Chinese central bank’s moves to inject liquidity into its banking system this week, have allayed some of the most pressing concerns about global growth, investors said."
Manufacturing rebounds. Reuters's Lucia Mutikani: "U.S. factory activity unexpectedly rebounded in January after contracting for five straight months amid a surge in new orders, offering hope that a prolonged slump in business investment has probably bottomed out. A rebound in business investment is critical to keeping the longest economic expansion in history, now in its 11th year, on track amid signs of fatigue in consumer spending. The improvement in manufacturing reported by the Institute for Supply Management Monday likely reflected an ebb in trade tensions between the United States and China."

Even as OPEC and Russia consider an emergency production cut, oil is tanking and the outlook for prices is getting dimmer.

The Super Bowl, Groundhog Day and the stock market are prime targets for predictions that turn out not to be terribly reliable.
Allan Sloan



Workers assemble engines at the GM manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., last August. (Harrison McClary/Reuters)
Trade fight brewing across the pond: The European Union and Britain clashed over a post-Brexit trade deal ... with the two sides setting out very different visions of a future relationship that could result in the most distant of ties,” Reuters's Elizabeth Piper and John Chalmers report.
“Almost three days since Britain officially left the EU, both sides presented their aims, with the question of whether London will sign up to EU rules to ensure frictionless trade shaping up to be the defining argument of the negotiations.”
Trump to tout trade in State of the Union. The Post's Philip Rucker and Seung Min Kim: "In a briefing with reporters to preview the speech, a senior administration official said Trump would focus on five issue areas: a 'blue-collar boom' for which he credits his trade negotiations with China, Mexico and Canada; domestic policies to help working families, including paid family leave; health care; illegal immigration; and national security."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Mnuchin and top Democrat are talking infrastructure: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and a senior congressional Democrat have stepped up their efforts to craft a bipartisan deal on improving the nation’s infrastructure, but both congressional lawmakers and White House officials remain skeptical that the effort will lead to a deal, according to four people familiar with internal discussions,” my colleagues Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Josh Dawsey report.
“The talks between Mnuchin and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) have so far failed to break ground on how to pay for a package that could cost more than $1 trillion, leaving perhaps the most important roadblock to a deal in place. Complicating matters further is that the White House has publicly thrown its support behind a bipartisan separate push in the Senate to approve a more limited infrastructure package that would fall far short of what Trump promoted as a presidential candidate in 2016.”
IMPEACHMENT MINUTE: A speed read on the latest from the congressional impeachment process.
"In addressing Congress during impeachment, Trump to sound the starting gun toward November." By The Post's Philip Rucker and Seung Min Kim
"House prosecutors, Trump’s team offer competing arguments to Senate that has largely decided on the verdict." By The Post's Elise Viebeck, Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa
"Manchin calls for censuring Trump over pressuring Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival." By The Post's Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis


The brand logo of Alphabet Inc.'s Google. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
Alphabet reports disappointing earnings: “Alphabet Inc. reported revenue from the key holiday quarter that missed Wall Street estimates, suggesting the company’s Google advertising business is struggling to maintain growth in the face of rising competition,” Bloomberg News's Gerrit De Vynck reports.
“Revenue, excluding payments to partners, was $37.6 billion in the fourth quarter, less than analysts’ projections of $38.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ad revenue in the quarter rose 17 percent, slower than the 20 percent year-over-year growth from in the same quarter a year earlier. Shares fell about 4 percent in after-market trading. The stock jumped about 16 percent in the past three months, hitting a record late last month. That set a high bar for Monday’s results.”
  • Amazon is making things difficult: “Amazon.com Inc. has become a major digital advertising rival in recent years, grabbing more valuable shopping-related searches from Google. The e-commerce giant saw a surge in revenue from its ads business during the holiday quarter.” (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
  • More trouble ahead?: “Justice Department officials will meet [today] with representatives of state attorneys general to discuss their investigations of search and advertising giant Google, according to sources familiar with the plans,” Reuters's Diane Bartz reports.
Tesla had its biggest jump in years: “Shares of Tesla soared 19.9 percent ... after Argus Research raised its price target to $808 from $556 and short-sellers scrambled to catch up to the stock,” CNBC's Jessica Bursztynsky reports.
“The moves was the biggest one-day jump since May, 2013. The firm’s analysts cited Tesla’s strong fourth-quarter financials, which exceeded Wall Street’s expectations last week. It also raised its earnings per share estimate to $8.01 from $5.96 and expects that to double by 2021.”

Goldman Sachs headquarters, left. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)
Goldman loses star trader. WSJ's Liz Hoffman: "Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s 'straders,' the hybrid trader-coder whose star has been on the rise inside the Wall Street firm, are losing their ringleader. Adam Korn, who represented a new kind of Wall Street trader—one reared on computer code, not instinct—is leaving the firm, people familiar with the matter said Monday. His departure follows that of Martin Chavez, a technologist and trading executive who left at the end of last year. More resignations are expected across the firm in the coming weeks, as 2019 bonuses are paid out.
"An 18-year Goldman veteran, Mr. Korn most recently supervised 5,000 engineers working to electronify the trading floor and build new software for clients. The most ambitious, called Marquee, is laying digital pipelines to replace a trading flow that still relies on phone calls and paper tickets."
Fallout from Airbus scandal spreads: “The Airbus bribery scandal reverberated around the world ... as the head of one of its top buyers temporarily stood down and investigations were launched in countries aggrieved at being dragged into the increasingly political row,” Reuters's Tim Hepher and Laurence Frost report.
“Airbus agreed on Friday to pay a record $4 billion in fines after reaching a plea bargain with prosecutors in Britain, France and United States over alleged bribery and corruption stretching back at least 15 years. Now, it is bracing for a rocky period with airlines and foreign governments, some of which have complained they were not forewarned about the charges and claimed little knowledge of the sums of money swirling around their fleet purchases.”
Ford's failed efforts to broker a deal on auto emissions standards: "The call was part of a nearly yearlong push to fend off the expense and delays of competing fuel standards, but Ford miscalculated the White House’s appetite for a deal. Its efforts ultimately backfired, putting it at odds with the administration and other big car makers,” the Wall Street Journal's Mike Colias, Ben Foldy and Andrew Restuccia report of a call last spring between Bill Ford Jr., the automaker's executive chairman, and Trump, in which the president essentially said the company was on its own.
"When Ford eventually made its own deal with California last summer, it drew an antitrust inquiry and spurred the administration to speed up efforts to strip California’s authority to set its own tailpipe standards. It also irritated Ford’s biggest rivals, including General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp., which have since sided with the Trump administration on the issue. The industry — more polarized than ever — is now facing a confrontation that could last for years, leaving it in a costly limbo.”

Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers exits a Manhattan federal court in 2006. (Louis Lanzano/AP)
Former WorldCom CEO dies at 78: “Bernard J. Ebbers, a telecom executive who grew a small Mississippi firm into the Wall Street juggernaut WorldCom, only for its gains to be unmasked in an $11 billion corporate accounting scandal that landed him in prison and sent shock waves through the U.S. economy, died Feb. 2 at his home in Brookhaven, Miss. He was 78,” my colleague Harrison Smith reports.

Junk-bond trader Paras Shah allegedly took food repeatedly from office cafeteria without paying.


Fannie, Freddie inch toward privatization. WSJ's Andrew Ackerman: "A federal regulator has hired an adviser to help recapitalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance giants at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis. The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Monday it tapped investment bank Houlihan Lokey Inc. as it moves toward returning the mortgage companies to private ownership after their $190 billion government bailout.
"The contract for the Los Angeles-based firm, which does a lot of restructuring and merger work in the mortgage industry, is valued at up to $45 million over about five years, according to the FHFA. The firm declined to comment."


  • The Bipartisan Policy Center hosts an event featuring former Fed Chair Janet Yellen and World Bank President David Malpass.
  • Disney, Sony, Ford, BP, ConocoPhillips, Snap, Ralph Lauren and Match Group are among the notable companies reporting their earnings.
  • The Commerce Department releases the latest international trade figures
  • General Motors, Yum! China, Energizer, Merck, GrubHub, Spotify and GoPro are among the notable companies reporting their earnings.
  • The House Financial Services Committee hosts a hearing on efforts to "evade state consumer protections and interest rate caps."
  • The Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing hosts a hearing on Trump administration's "efforts to eliminate public housing."
  • The Urban Institute hosts an event on institutional investors role in the housing market
  • Uber, Kellogg, T-Mobile, Philip Morris International, Fiat Chrysler, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Skechers USA, Yum! Brands, Estee Lauder and the New York Times are among the notable companies reporting their earnings.
  • The Labor Department releases the January jobs numbers
  • Honda Motor and AbbVie are among the notable companies reporting their earnings.



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