How important is the economy in deciding the result of US presidential elections? Is it really the case that, as in the often-repeated phrase from Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, “It’s the economy, stupid!”? If so then a look at history may be useful.
A lot of commentary in this campaign has concerned the unemployment rate, usually reiterating that the only president since the 1930s to win re-election with unemployment above 7% was Ronald Reagan in 1984. The argument is usually made that, with unemployment around 8%, President Obama faces a huge task to win. Read more
As the wrangling over the European Union budget hots up, some member states are getting tetchy about their contributions. Germany, France, Italy and the UK bear the brunt of the net costs. The UK is well known for regarding its payments as excessive, and some other high-paying countries are now joining in with the complaints.
At the other end of the scale, the biggest gainer under the current budget arrangements is clearly Poland. On a per-head basis, Luxembourg does extremely well out of the system – but its net gain includes the funding costs for various EU institutions, and so its apparent extravagance is perhaps misleading. Greece and Hungary also do pretty well. On a per-head basis, Lithuania and Latvia have reason to be cheerful. Most of the recent accession states do pretty well out of the current arrangement. Read more
Access to electricity is one of the key factors identified by the World Bank as essential for doing business. But that is difficult and time-consuming in some surprisingly well-off countries, its research shows.
European countries come out of the research particularly badly: eight are among the world’s worst 25 performers (or seven, if you don’t consider Azerbaijan part of Europe). The only other well-off countries in this list are Russia and South Africa. Read more
(SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Two sets of impending economic data are likely to hit the headlines in the last days of the US presidential campaign: the first estimate of GDP for the third quarter of the year, out on Friday October 26, and the employment situation report for October, published on Friday November 2, four days before the election.
After the release of labour market data for September, President Obama’s camp made much of strong growth in hiring, up 114,000 compared with August, and a fall in the unemployment rate from 8.1 per cent to 7.8 per cent, taking the rate back to where it was when the president took office in 2009. Mitt Romney’s campaign countered that, if not for people exiting the labour market, the rate would be in double figures. Read more
What have Georgia, Rwanda and Belarus got in common? According to the World Bank’s annual Doing Business project, which has been running for nearly a decade, these are the fastest improving countries in which to do business.
The most surprising inclusion for the outsider is obviously Rwanda. The central African nation has changed greatly since the horrific genocide in 1994-1995 for which it is most notorious. Just days ago, it took up a seat on the UN Security Council. And it is attempting to reduce its reliance on foreign aid donors, focusing instead on raising its own funding.