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US economy grim for many but not all

Most analysts agree that this November 6 election is mostly centred on economic concerns. We spoke to analyst Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm.

Ali Sheikholeslami, euronews:
“We have seen signs of recovery in the US economy, and you have been saying that it is plodding forward slowly, but do you think the economy is really and properly on the mend?”

Ian Bremmer:
“Well, it depends from whose perspective. If you are in the top 10% of earners in the United States or if you’re a corporate executive you probably feel like the United States economy is doing OK for you right now and certainly from a macro perspective, the US can borrow basically for free, which means a lot of people out there are seeing the United States as a pretty good bet for free but unemployment levels are high but the quality of life for the average American and the belief that they have opportunities and that their kids will have opportunities that has been deteriorating for a long time. So top down I would say the US is not only not in decline but in some ways looks stronger than it did in 2008 before the financial crisis, in some ways, but bottom up not only is the United States in decline but has been for 40 years and that makes it very difficult to answer a question about how the US economy is doing.”

euronews:
“President Obama will claim credit for injecting cash in to the automotive industry and for improving unemployment figures, how likely do you think he is to reap the rewards at the election?”

Bremmer:
“I think that Obama is much less vulnerable to charges that the economy has imploded under his watch then he might have been. In part that’s because unemployment numbers have improved, still nowhere near as quickly as he would have liked or he would have expected in 2009. In part it’s because Europe has not fallen apart so we give some credit to Merkel. In part, it’s because he got very lucky on a Supreme Court health care vote.”

euronews:
“Mitt Romney has spoken about China and its currency saying that he will ask China to regulate its currency. But is that really possible?”

Bremmer:
“Well it possible to ask, you can always ask. As my mother used to say “It’s nice to want” but it’s better to have and the United States has very little actual leverage over China on this issue. As I’m sure you know, China has re-valued its currency about 11% over the course of the Obama administration. They haven’t done that because Obama told them too – and Obama made it seem as if he got that done. [But no,] the Chinese are taking decisions on their currency because they think it’s the right thing for them to do. They’ve been very incremental and they’ve been very modest but they’ve been very consistent over the course of the last few years. I suspect that will continue.”

euronews:
“Will there be any difference between Obama and Romney when it comes to spending to rebuild what has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy?”

Bremmer:
“I think whether Obama or Romney wins, I don’t think you are going to see a significant difference in how money is going to be spent. Let’s keep in mind, the Republican and Democratic parties are not all that different. We have two parties in the United States, they’re both pretty centrist and they are both paid by the same people. They are paid by the same special interests, the same corporations, and all the rest.

“The Americans want their economy to get fixed, they want meaningful jobs, they want taxes that are low, they want healthcare that works, they have very local concerns. Even Afghanistan, where Americans are dying, when Romney got the nomination at the Republican national convention with a war that the US is losing, he didn’t even mention Afghanistan. Why not? Because he’s not getting elected on that issue. At the end of the foreign policy debate, both candidates basically said “let’s focus on nation building at home.”“

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