Saturday, August 18, 2012

Economist/FT: Obama presidency
preferred by global business

FROM ITS very beginning, the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney has built itself on the idea of Romney’s expertise in the private sector as the principal reason why Romney would be a better president than Barack Obama. The talking points have been consistent: that the former Massachusetts governor’s experience at Bain Capital, and his stewardship of the Salt Lake City Olympics, make him a better money manager than the president directing the world’s largest economy.

Business executives around the world would beg to differ.

A survey of more than 1,500 international senior executives, conducted by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist, and the Financial Times, finds that while the global business outlook remains decidedly gloomy, an Obama presidency is considered better — not just for the American economy, but also for the world economy.

The survey results, released on Thursday, found that “[o]verall, 42% of executives now reckon business conditions will worsen. Most predicted, unsurprisingly, that Europe's biggest problem will be economic uncertainty. More than 60% believe economic conditions in the euro area will get worse in the next six months.”

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The outlook is brighter when the U.S. economy is factored in.

“The outlook for North America is more optimistic, though with a presidential election in November that could change. Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney in every region, and by 22 percentage points overall, on the question of which candidate would be better for the world economy. An Obama presidency is also considered better for business, with strongest support coming from those in government, education and health care, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.”

Overall, the poll, which sampled business responses from Asia, Western and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, North America and Latin America, showed Obama preferred by better than 2 to 1.

The poll was conducted before Romney tapped Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.

The cynics and nativists dominating so much of the conversation will, no doubt, harrumph and reinforce the notion that “their economy isn’t our economy” or angrily stress that this is a “water’s edge” issue, downplaying the interconnectedness that is a fact of 21st century economics.

But poll results like that can’t be easily tweaked or spun; they speak loudly of business leaders’ confidence in Obama’s proven abilities on the global stage. For them, at least, Romney’s expertise at creating jobs is questionable at best. For them, there’s no steadier hand at the helm than the one that’s already there.

“No man is an island,” John Donne observed, more than 375 years ago. No economy's an island, either.

Image credits: Economist logo, global business barometer chart: © 2012 The Economist Newspaper Limited.

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