US election

James Politi

Are Americans more on board with President Barack Obama’s efforts to clinch massive deals with the Pacific Rim and the European Union than most Democratic lawmakers give him credit for?

This week, the well-respected, bipartisan, NBC-WSJ poll found that 44 per cent of Americans were more likely to vote for a member of Congress who “favours new trade agreements with other countries”, compared to 20 per cent who said they were less likely to; 34 per cent said it made no difference, and 2 per cent were unsure. Read more

Geoff Dyer

Getty Images

First things first. Everything that happened on Friday, from President Barack Obama’s long-awaited speech on the National Security Agency to the long list of reforms published by the White House, would not have taken place without Edward Snowden.

When he first started leaking documents, the former NSA contractor said that all he wanted to do was initiate a debate. “I’ve already won,” he said last month. “For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished.” Read more

Welcome to our rolling coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration for another four years as US president, complete with agenda-setting speech. By Johanna Kassel in New York and Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington with contributions from FT correspondents. All times are EST.

5.40 As we wrap things up for the night, a round up of the best the FT has to offer about President Obama’s second inauguration. Thanks for joining us

5.30 As the parade continues, running about 45 minutes behind schedule, the arrival of the president and first lady at the balls will be delayed. We’ll leave them to review the rest of the floats and bands as the sun sets on Washington.

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By Gideon Rachman

Everybody agrees that economic and political power is moving east. Barack Obama has constructed a whole new foreign policy around this theory – the “pivot to Asia”. But, as I assemble my annual list of the five most important events of the year, it is striking how events in Europe and the Middle East still dominate.

Edward Luce

If I could be a fly on the wall, I would skip today’s White House lunch between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. I would rather be buzzing around the caddy when the president next plays golf with John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House.

For a start, no alcohol will be served. Mr Romney’s Mormon faith will forbid him from even accepting a coffee. This puts a ceiling on the potential for candid disclosures – convivial or otherwise. Any half-educated fly knows why the Latin phrase in camomile tea veritas was never coined.

But even if Mr Romney received some kind of a religious waiver and agreed to do a round of tequila shots with the president, this fly would still head for better walls in Washington. For all the White House’s piety about consulting Mr Romney on how to run the federal government better – the main topic of discussion according to Jay Carney, the White House press secretary – real business is unlikely to be conducted. Read more

The past week has offered a unique chance to compare politics in the world’s two biggest powers. The opaque formality of the Communist party congress in China makes an almost comic contrast with the made-for-television razzmatazz of the US presidential election.

Global challenges facing Obama in his second term
What does Barack Obama’s reelection mean for the Untied States’ relations with the world? FT editor Lionel Barber and Washington bureau chief Richard McGregor join Gideon Rachman to discuss the economic and geopolitical challenges facing the president in his second term.

Gideon Rachman

Fans of Obama rhetoric went into ecstasies last night over the president’s victory speech.

Here was the old Obama back: strong, confident, with his preacher’s cadences – appealing for a better future and reprising the themes that first shot him to national prominence in 2004: the unity of the nation, the ability to overcome the differences between red and blue America.

The fact that Mitt Romney also made a gracious and conciliatory speech and that senior Republicans are talking of finding compromises have led to some hopeful talk of a new spirit of bipartisanship, allowing America to skirt the fiscal cliff – and tackle a few other big challenges besides.

I’m afraid I don’t buy it. I think the Republican Party will return to Washington in an embittered and angry mood. Read more

Esther Bintliff

The relief felt by Obama supporters on Wednesday is tonally different from the unbridled elation of 2008. The four intervening years have instilled a little more wariness and a little less hope. So while Obama’s campaign slogan was ‘Forward!’, it’s also important to look back – at his successes and failures, at the battles fought with a recalcitrant Congress, and at the lessons he may have learned – all of which will inform the choices of his second term. In that spirit, here is our selection of some of the best reporting and analysis pieces that shed light on Obama’s first term as president. Read more

John Paul Rathbone

A lot of north Americans will get high on last night’s vote – not because they are celebrating the re-election of Barack Obama as president, but following the legalisation of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. In defiance of federal law, they have now become the first US states to legalise the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use. Although Oregon voters rejected the amendment, it’s a ground-breaking move which will change the tone of the debate on international drugs policy, test the balance of power between US states and the Federal Government, and affect Mexican security.

Medical-use cannabis is already legal in several US states. What makes Amendment 64 significant is that it would remove the prohibition on the commercial production of cannabis. In Colorado, pot can now in theory be legally sold and taxed at state-licensed stores in a system similar to alcohol sales. Personal possession of up to 28 grams (1 oz) will be legal for anyone at least 21 years old.

To get a bead on what this might mean, this is further than Netherlands has gone. There, contrary to common perception, it is only the retail sale of 5 grams that is legal. Production and wholesale remains illegal, and the law is vigorously enforced. That is why the price of pot in Amsterdam “coffee shops” is “little different than the price in US dispensaries,” as the authors of “Marijuana legalisation: what everyone needs to know”, argue hereRead more