In the barroom brawl that is the GOP nomination for president in 2024, polls say the now twice-indicted Donald Trump is still ahead by a lot. But his challengers (i.e. Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, most recently Chris Christie, etc.) seem to grow by the day and they are attacking him in ways they didn’t in the past. It’s getting personal, ugly, unpredictable and impossible not to watch.
Less noticeable is what’s happening on the Democratic side, where President Sleepy Joe Biden is being challenged by a pair of unelectable eccentrics. By the looks of things, he’s going to be the party’s 2024 nominee despite his failing mental and physical acuity, various policy missteps, or whatever fallout comes from the GOP probe of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
It’s difficult, bordering on impossible, to dislodge a sitting president seeking a second term — even someone as unqualified as Sleepy Joe.
Or maybe not. With every sandbag-induced fall, every slurred Rose Garden address, continued inflation and a never-ending border crisis, Biden seems more and more unfit for office by the minute.
Again, he is the president; party elders in backrooms chomping on cigars no longer pick the candidates. If he wants the nomination, it’s his. Unless one day, maybe someday soon or just minutes before he’s officially the nominee at next year’s party convention, or when he’s going one-on-one with the GOP nominee, he can’t get out of bed. Or he loses his ability to speak and reason even more. Perhaps Dr. Jill Biden confers with real doctors and somehow convinces her stubborn hubby he needs to go into retirement.
That latter scenario sounds crazy, I know. It’s also clearly plausible, and increasingly so, my Wall Street sources who get paid a lot to gauge such Black Swans tell me.
They say it would throw the Democratic Party and country into chaos, particularly if Biden drops out later rather than sooner. If he’s nominated, or on the verge, party delegates would be pledged to Sleepy Joe and they are mostly his for the keeping. That’s where, I am told, the bartering and the confusion begins.
His unpopular and obviously equally inept VP, Kamala Harris, could be given the mantle as the nominee because in the PC-obsessed Dem Party, you just don’t bypass a woman of color no matter how unqualified.
Unless, that is, some real players, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom or Gov. JB Pritzker of Illinois, do something crazy at the convention or shortly after, bend some rules and stage a do-over for the nomination.
The scenario as crazy as all this sounds is making the rounds on Wall Street. You hear it in private dinners with top execs and I’m privy to. And increasingly in research reports floating around among financial advisers, including one recently published by the investment firm Piper Sandler that I got my hands on.
Why does Wall Street care about a potential civil war inside the Democratic Party? It’s a good question that’s worth exploring. Wall Street has a love/hate relationship with volatility. Savvy traders love it. They seek to extract value from wobbly markets impacted by uncertain fiscal or monetary policy or political upheaval. Not knowing if a presidential nominee — currently president, no less — is sentient is certainly something that could roil markets and provide an opening for traders to take advantage of price dislocations.
Aversion to chaos
Wall Street banks, meanwhile, also deal with a lot of big companies and rich people investing for retirement. They hate chaos in the market and the pricing volatility it creates.
It’s hard to price a secondary offering after your IPO if the markets aren’t reflecting true value, an experience more common than you think when the herd freaks out over something unexpected like Biden making a last-minute decision to abdicate. Ditto for investors attempting to arrange retirement portfolios, which is why Wall Street is getting antsy over Sleepy Joe’s future.
And it could get worse from a market-volatility standpoint. One doomsday scenario addressed by Piper is Biden dropping out after being nominated — again a possibility given his declining health. It would be well into the presidential campaign that Harris, loathed within the party, would declare herself the nominee. That could set up a nasty, last-minute battle for a spot on the ticket with lots of uncertainty for the markets.
As Piper Sandler pointed out in its report, these extreme scenarios don’t have to occur. Biden could come to his senses and admit what an increasingly large number of Americans believe: He’s not a vibrant 80-year-old. He’s physically and mentally weak at a time when the country faces serious global threats (China’s belligerence, Russia’s expansionism), an uncertain economy, not to mention all the messes he can’t fix because he can’t put in a long day in the Oval Office.
Maybe he drops out before the end of the year — the sooner the better, according to Piper’s analysis. It allows Newsom and Pritzker time to get on state ballots and offer an opportunity for Democratic voters to nominate someone less lame than Biden or Harris, who has failed at every task given her (the border at the top of the list).
The American people will also be spared the ordeal of listening to her equally lame attempts at profundity, where she makes the bumbling Biden sound downright Churchillian.
Crisis averted? Not really, because the markets will have the GOP candidate to worry about — another real possibility that a certain red-haired crazy man who picks Twitter fights, incited a riot and faces multiple indictments is the nominee and possibly wins the presidency in 2024.
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