Make us your home page
Instagram

Raymond James CEO says he'll choose new guy for White House

The CEO of the largest regional brokerage beyond Wall Street says he gladly gave President Barack Obama his vote in 2008. But now he's going to support Mitt Romney after four years of the country making little progress on important fiscal issues.

The first of three Obama vs. Romney debates Wednesday night seems unlikely to change Paul Reilly's stance.

"I remember when a trillion dollars was a lot of money," the Raymond James Financial CEO told the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club. Tackling the country's national debt and huge budget deficit will take the new president and both sides of Congress to work together.

Is that even possible?

"One extreme says we can't raise taxes. The other extreme says we can't cut spending," Reilly said. "Nonsense. We must do both."

He says he doesn't know if Romney will prove any more successful than Obama at moving the country's economy forward or making headway against massive deficits. But Reilly gave the current president a full term to show leadership that transcends party lines. That has not happened. Reilly suggests Romney, based on his political history, if elected may be more mainstream than he has portrayed himself during the grueling presidential campaign.

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Reilly was named Raymond James CEO — succeeding legendary 40-year CEO Tom James — in March 2009. That's exactly when the Dow dropped under 6,700, plummeting from a high of 14,169 in late 2007. During a glacial recovery, the brokerage firm's still made money every year and even completed its biggest acquisition ever, a $1.2 billion deal for Morgan Keegan, earlier in 2012.

Reilly sympathizes with Obama and the Federal Reserve for trying to fix the economy. He was more critical of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's plan to keep interest rates low to encourage borrowing and home buying. That, he says, carries consequences.

"Artificially low rates are like a tax on retirees," he said, because people trying to live off investments rather than a paycheck can't find any safe returns that pay much.

Failing to confront our fiscal crisis is like putting off surgery, Reilly says. "The pain will get bigger."

The Raymond James chief wants someone in the White House who is pragmatic, able to compromise and can actually get big things done.

"Reagan and Clinton were great compromisers," Reilly said. Of course, they did not suffer the hard-nosed ideological gulf separating Republicans and Democrats these days. They also didn't have someone like GOP influential Grover Norquist, who has successfully won pledges from most Republicans in office to never vote to raise taxes on anyone.

At Wednesday's Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon in St. Petersburg, one attendee asked Reilly if he would ever consider running for president. It was a softball question at an event renowned for hardballs. "I wouldn't take the job," he responded.

But he did volunteer his predecessor at the firm.

"I wish Tom James would. He is very pragmatic. We need that in Washington," Reilly said. "We are in a crisis."

That much everyone can agree upon.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@tampabay.com.

Raymond James CEO says he'll choose new guy for White House 10/03/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 10:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  2. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]
  3. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa

    Stage

    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton became the artistic director and conductor of Opera Tampa in 2012. Lipton replaced the opera's only previous director, Anton Coppola, who retired. [Times file (2012)]
  4. Throwback Tampa Bay station 102.9 goes from R&B jams to WFLA-AM's conservative talk

    Blogs

    Talk radio station WFLA-AM (970) began simulcasting on 102.9 FM in the Tampa area this morning. 

    Tampa's 102.9 is going from Throwback Tampa Bay to WFLA-AM's news radio.
  5. Bank of Tampa expanding into Sarasota

    Banking

    TAMPA — The Bank of Tampa is expanding to Sarasota County. It opened a loan office this month in downtown Sarasota at 1858 Ringling Blvd., which will be converted to a full-service branch within the year, the company said in a release Monday.

    The Bank of Tampa is expanding to Sarasota. Charles Murphy, pictured, will lead the Sarasota branch. | [Courtesy of The Bank of Tampa]