Mitt Romney

John Gapper

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Image by Getty

On the day of the US presidential election, we are witnessing a perfect antithesis of those who believe in intuition and those who trust in data. That has implications not only for political observers but for finance.

Nate Silver, the New York Times’ polling guru, who crunches the state and national polls and feeds them into a unified model that spits out a probability of who will be elected president, has Barack Obama as the 91.6 per cent favourite to win.

Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist and former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, feels something in the air: Read more

John Gapper

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has been a bit of a trainwreck for the private equity industry.

First, its image of being a bunch of ruthless asset-strippers has been revived by the Democrats (and even Romney’s Republican primary opponents) and now his tax affairs are casting a dark shadow.

As the New York Times reported this weekend, Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, has launched a broad inquiry into whether private equity firms evaded tax by turning their 2 per cent management fees into performance fees, which are taxed at a lower rate. Read more

John Gapper

President Barack Obama’s proposed “Buffett rule” – that no household making over $1m annually should pay a smaller share of its income than middle-class families pay – may turn out to be good politics but it has a numerical weak spot.

The issue is that the top 0.1 per cent in the US are already paying a higher rate of tax on average than the middle quintile of earners, on the White House’s own figures – 26 per cent compared with 16 per cent in 2010. Read more