• By The Financial District


Global banks and investors said they were stepping up their preparations for a victory by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden after his rival Republican President Donald Trump revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 early on Friday.

The development was the latest dramatic twist in an extraordinary election year that had many banks and investors planning for no clear winner on Nov. 3 with a global market panic expected to ensue, Matt Scuffham reported for Reuters on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila.) By Friday, they were quickly shifting gears on the basis that Trump’s positive result would deal a blow to his campaign and lessen the overall chances of a contested election outcome.

“Trump contracting the coronavirus will elevate institutional money’s preparation for a Democratic White House and all the tax, trade and budget implications that go along with it,” James McDonald, CEO of Los Angeles-based fund manager Hercules Investments wrote in a note. “We expect institutional investors to start de-risking portfolios and increasing hedges in preparation for market volatility.”

Oil prices dropped on the news and stocks saw an initial selloff in a volatile morning trading session. Major banks have been running simulations to ensure they can cope with a spike in market, liquidity and credit risks in case of a contested election or even a constitutional crisis. One senior capital markets banker said on Friday that their institution was still stress testing for all scenarios, but that it had tilted the focus of the simulations more towards a clear Biden victory and what that would entail in terms of volatility and hedging strategies. “This increases Biden’s chances and reduces the chance of lawsuits and recriminations,” said another banker.