US Elections

rt_obama_speech_090119_mnWith today being the day when Barack Obama will take office as the 44th President of the United States – and historically, the first  president we  have asked our global economists to give us a summary of some of the challenges the new president will have.

The 44th president of the United States will inherit some tough challenges when he is sworn into office today. But since his election victory, Barack Obama has moved swiftly to put the tools in place to promote economic growth – good news for investors in US equities.

Despite his assertion that there is “only one president at a time,” Mr Obama hit the ground running after his November election win, and has moved quickly to put the tools in place for swift action on the economy.

Last week, the Democratic Party unveiled its much-anticipated USD 825 billion stimulus plan, a package of tax cuts and public spending designed to stem the economic slide and kickstart growth. Mr Obama said the plan, which he is keen to see passed before Congress goes into recess in mid-February, aims to save or create up to 4 million jobs.

In addition, Mr Obama has successfully lobbied Congress for the release of the second half of the USD 700 billion set aside by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), avoiding a potentially messy battle in the first few weeks of his administration. Lawmakers criticised the Bush administration’s use of the first half of the funds, citing the lack of transparency and lack of conditions attached to bank aid, but Obama’s team have provided assurances that these concerns will be addressed.

The “who’s who” list of choices to fill key positions in Mr Obama’s cabinet has also generated positive marks. Among the appointments are Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and Timothy Geithner, the former president and CEO of the New York Federal Reserve, as treasury secretary. Other economic hard-hitters in the team include Lawrence Summers, former treasury secretary in Bill Clinton’s administration, and Paul Volcker, a former Fed chairman.

Consequences for investors
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Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made history by becoming the first ever African American to be nominated for the role by a major political party.

Barack Hussein Obama II was born on August 4, 1961 in Hawaii. His mother, Ann Dunham, a white American from Kansas, met his Kenyan father, Barack Obama I, while they were studying together at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His parents separated when Obama was two, and he barely knew his father, who died in an automobile accident in 1982.

In 1967, Obama’s mother married Indonesian Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama lived until he was 10. He has a half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Obama moved back to Hawaii in 1971 and lived with his maternal grandparents until he graduated from high school in 1979. A graduate of Columbia University, he entered Harvard Law School in 1988, where he served as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.

First elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996 Barack Obama served as an Illinois state senator for seven years before he was elected to the US State Senate in November 2, 2004.

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The election of a new American president is always an important event, because of the power the American president has to influence events and affect lives around the world.

This election is particularly important: the American economy is going through the most serious financial crisis since The Great Depression. And the international scene is littered with the debris of Bush’s disregard for the rule of law, and his confrontational strategies.

Barack Obama has promised to undo the damage eight years of Bush policy has caused. The other contender, John McCain, if he unexpectedly surmounts the odds and becomes president, will likely build on the Bush legacy, notwithstanding his recent disclaimer: “I am not President Bush.”

To be sure Obama has said he would use force to defend American interests, and would be ready to act outside the framework of the United Nations.

It may be that being the president of a superpower carries with it some obligation to brandish the use of force as an instrument of foreign policy, or else risk being disqualified from the race altogether.

Nevertheless, the possibility of an Obama administration choosing dialogue over confrontation, engagement over hostility, is real.

Therefore, the new president would be well-advised to send a message that his defence of American values is genuine and not a rhetorical device to justify oppressive foreign policy choices.
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A friend of mine is an unabashed and very sane Obama supporter (not Obamabot in the slightest). When I asked him why he bought the t-shirt, he said:

It’s all in good fun. Win or lose, this presidential election season is just full of grade-A entertainment!

Presidential politics is serious business!

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So it’s now official, and 80,000 packed into the Denver Broncos’ football stadium in Denver on Thursday were there to see it: Barack Obama is now indisputably the Democratic candidate for the 2008 presidential election campaign, and the first bi-racial man in American history to win the nomination of a major party. The unlikely campaign that began 19 months ago in the freezing winter of Springfield, Illinois had reached and passed its penultimate hurdle.

Senator Obama himself, revelling in the biggest political extravaganza the US has ever seen, seized the opportunity on prime-time, coast-to-coast television to switch gears in campaign strategy – and the nation witnessed non-confrontational Obama morph into combative Obama.

“If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have,” he roared with the characteristically brilliant, soaring oratory that has stirred so much enthusiasm across the world. “I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first… John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.”

McCain, meanwhile, also took advantage of the evening to spring a surprise, one-upmanship campaign ad on the nation’s television screens. Oozing supposed sincerity, McCain looked straight into the camera and congratulated his opponent: “Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America,” he said. “Too often, the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed.” Minutes later, viewers saw an Obama campaign ad featuring a negative personal attack on McCain – all with the overall effect that Mr Nice Guy seemed to have transformed into an attack dog during the course of the evening, while the veteran old toughie McCain had changed into the warm and fuzzy of the two candidates.
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Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic Presidential nomination are now anywhere between 5 per cent to 20 percent. By rights she should be on her back, declared the loser by technical knockout. But not only is she standing; she is plunging ahead with a dogged ferocity.

In spite of Barack Omaha’s clear advantage in the popular vote and committed delegate tallies – a mathematical dominance unlikely to be reversed even in the remaining primary contests – Mrs. Clinton says she is being bullied by the “big boys” and vows to stay in the race until the democratic convention.

Her relentless campaign has inspired reporters variously to compare her, with a mixture of admiration and horror. Even the coughing spasms that have seizes her with alarming frequency these past few months have become an emblem of her fortitude. After she muscled her way through a foreign policy address, the New Yorker praised her ability to “suppress the coughing through sheer will.

So what makes Clinton run, even as her win at all cost strategy threatens her party’s chances against John McCain the republican candidate? The answer lies in her innately combative nature that drew Bill Clinton to her when “she was in my face from the start”. She is equally famous for a preternatural focus and what one of her friends called her “tunnel vision” along with a determination so unshakeable that her husband once told a visitor to the Oval office: “I might as well lift that desk and throw it out of the window to change her mind.” To reach her goals, she long ago learnt to embrace any tactic, however destructive.

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New polls gave Hillary Clinton fresh hope yesterday, as she chased White House rival Barack Obama, on the eve of two primaries which could shape the end-game of their marathon battle.

Clinton and Obama face voting contests today in North Carolina and Indiana, the next steps in their battle for the Democratic presidential nomination to take on presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in the November election.

The Democratic rivals set off on last minute campaign swings through Indiana and North Carolina, which hold primaries today which offer Obama the chance to finally knock Clinton out, or for her to ignite a comeback.

Obama and Hillary renewed their battle over gas tax relief yesterday in a late push for support on the eve of critical presidential showdowns in North Carolina and Indiana.

The candidates, embroiled in a grueling nominating struggle that has split the party, wooed working-class voters and launched new television advertisements attacking each other ahead of today’s votes.

For the first time in three months, the former first lady led her rival in the survey of national Democrats, by seven percentage points. Two weeks ago before the latest storm over Wright hit, Obama was up 10 points.

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There was this lady Hillybilly
Told Obama you look silly,
With your policies so dumb,
Just like your black bum,
And your small black willy.


All Obama could do was have a big laugh and say “How silly can you get Hilly?”

425obamabarack041807.jpg“We won north, we won south and we won in between,” Obama told a roaring crowd, referring to his victories over Washington and Nebraska. “The Democratic Party must stand for change, not change as a slogan, change we can believe in.”

To deafening cheers Obama, 46, hammered home to party activists that he was the candidate of change, as he laid claim to the Democratic Party’s nomination and down the track the presidency.

Tomorrow’s contests have been dubbed the Potomac Primary, Obama, bidding to be the first black president, is expected to do well in tomorrow’s vote due to the large African-American population in the region.

Hillary Clinton was seen as the inevitable Democratic nominee. She has run a strong campaign, and been an impressive candidate, but much has changed in a short time. Instead of finding a clear path to the White House, has run into the rather extraordinary movement set in motion by Barack Obama.

In reflecting on all of this, I am reminded of a haunting line in one of Bob Dylan’s more memorable songs from the 1960s (Ballad of a Thin Man) It was written in the midst of the upheavals of that period, as the civil rights and anti-war movements and the just-dawning cultural revolution were converging into a social movement.

What is clear now, months later, is that the threads of Obama’s appeal and inspiration, woven together, spring from a powerful philosophy of change that has resonated across generational lines.

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