) -- Wall Street is watching the elections just as closely as any talking head on a nightly political television show -- with a few big items on its agenda.
Unlike the past few legislative cycles, though, Wall Street's biggest priority has nothing to do with bailouts or stimulus funds or batting down aggressive reform measures. Instead, the financial community seems to be hoping to get nothing accomplished at all.
"What the business community is essentially saying now is: 'Time out, here. Give us some time to internalize and digest exactly what's taking place and what it means,'" says Brent McGoldrick, who runs a research group within a division of
(FTI - Get Report)
Obama and his party may have taken control on a platform of "change," but Wall Street -- and voters -- seems to have had just about enough of it.
Republicans are expected to gain seats and probably take over the House of Representatives. The Senate appears less likely to see Republican dominance, while polls show a mixed bag of voter sentiment. A recent Rasmussen poll shows a wide majority of U.S. voters unhappy with the way things are going in the country. But another poll show Democrats still in favor, broadly speaking, and another poll shows that enthusiastic voters are swinging Republican -- as evidenced by recent Tea Party fervor and unexpected primary wins.
In regards to Wall Street alone, a recent poll performed by McGoldrick's group in Washington, D.C., found that 78% of business leaders would like Democrats to lose control of at least one house of Congress. But, according to McGoldrick, that's not a reflection of any ideological bent. Wall Street simply knows that a divided Congress is unlikely to get much done.
"You'd think they would want an overhaul and outright appeal of the last couple of years -- but that's not what they want either," says McGoldrick. "Overhauling and repealing everything from the last couple years just shakes up the snow globe again: 'Just when we started to internalize what this means, you go and repeal it' - swinging back and forth."
However, Wall Street isn't looking for outright stagnation, either. Jan Loeys, who heads global asset allocation at
(JPM - Get Report)
, says that while investors hope that a more business-friendly Congress will be ushered in on Tuesday evening, "reality may be more messy."
"The idea that gridlock in Congress is good for the economy is not obvious to us," Loey said in a report on Friday. "Gridlock surely promotes the status quo, but that is not great in a time when action is needed. But an election message that jobs and the economy are voter priorities should make markets more optimistic that growth friendly policies will be pursued in 2011."
Here are a few important items on Wall Street's legislative agenda, as candidates for the 112th Congress await election results.