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The US housing crisis, the credit crunch and the consequent bailouts of financial institutions are still high on the agenda in the US and elsewhere in the world. Whether ObamaÆs victory will have a meaningful impact in the efforts of the US to pull itself out of its economic and financial markets mess in the short- and long-term remains to be seen.
Fund managers and analysts weigh in on the debate about the impact of ObamaÆs victory on the global market place.
Bob Doll, US-based vice-chairman and global CIO for equities at Blackrock:
ôDespite all of the prognostications and financial analyses that are part of the process, at the end the day, we believe the market impact of the election will be less than what most observers think. Like all elected officials President Obama will focus on only a fraction of the initiatives he discussed on the campaign trail. Additionally, exogenous events and surprises inevitably come up, many of which have greater bearing than politics on markets.ö
Antony Gifford, US-based fund manager of the Henderson Horizon American Equity Fund:
ôIn the short term there remains a risk that the recent rather modest rally of equities will be capped by some of the less equity-favourable aspects of ObamaÆs policies. For example, it is safe to assume that the McCain proposal to cut corporate taxation is dead, whereas the energy windfall tax plan might reappear in a modified form.ö
ôHowever, in our view there is no risk that Obama will do anything to destabilise the fragile recovery that is underway in the financial system. If that means that his more progressive initiatives have to wait then we would expect that to be the course he takes. It is increasingly evident that the real economy weakened substantially in September and October, and so we expect any early pronouncements and policy initiatives to be focused on trying to provide fuel for the economy.ö
Michael Hartnett, US based-global emerging market equity strategist at Merrill Lynch:
ôThe Obama win, at least initially, is likely to keep US equity and currency allocations high thanks to the promise of US fiscal stimulus in coming months. Fresh allocations to Japan and thereafter Asia await higher global growth expectations.ö
Joost van Leenders, Amsterdam-based investment specialist at Fortis Investments:
"The combination of a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress could lead to a faster and more effective legislation process; on the other hand it could lead to too much legislation. An overreaction to the current crisis is far from unthinkable."
"ObamaÆs economic plans are in principle investor unfriendly: higher taxes and a flirt with protectionism. But Obama seems to be more tuned in with the current crisis and his more pragmatic and consensus-seeking approach might be positive on the geopolitical arena."
"However, we are not looking for large market reactions. First of all, ObamaÆs victory is hardly a surprise. He had solid leads in most of the polls during the past few weeks. US markets rallied yesterday in anticipation of the election result. Secondly, equity markets have more to worry about than the next president. The financial crisis and the recession are far more important for now. Investors are trying to survive in the coming months and will bother with the new president after the dust has settled."
Paul Niven, London-based head of asset allocation at F&C:
ôSenator Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States with a large majority, winning at least 379 electoral votes, well in excess of the 270 needed for a majority.ö
ôIt appears as if the economy was by far the most important issue for voters in this election. With significant majorities, it is likely that Obama will move decisively to tackle the immediate economic issues with the most significant action to be taken in the near term being a material fiscal stimulus package, probably in excess of $200 billion.ö
ôBeyond the short-term Obama bounce, investors will once again focus on fundamentals. The coordinated and aggressive banking recapitalisation programmes, guarantees and monetary easing do seem to be leading to a gradual thawing in the frozen money markets and there has been some improvement in credit conditions, albeit modest. The world seems to be looking, once again, for the US to lead in an economic recovery.ö
Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors:
ôWhile an Obama presidency will step back from the pro-business, almost laissez-faire, neo-conservative approach of the Bush Administration, an extreme lurch to the left is unlikely. Rather, Barack Obama is likely to prove pragmatic, much as President Clinton was.ö
ôItÆs also worth noting that the DemocratsÆ increased majorities in both Congress and the Senate put president-elect Obama in a good position to implement his policies. It will also enable the US government to have a more decisive approach to dealing with current financial and economic challenges in contrast to the debacle seen in late September/early October in trying to pass the bank rescue programme.ö
ôGiven the economic crisis now facing the US and the world, the US presidential election was perhaps the most significant in many years. Barack ObamaÆs victory will likely see a shift towards more interventionist economic policy and a more aggressive approach to dealing with the current crisis. Given the current situation such an approach is probably appropriate and may well be seen by investors as providing more confidence in an eventual economic recovery. ItÆs also likely that the decision of Americans to elect Barack Obama as their next President will radically improve the way the rest of the world sees, and that is a good thing.ö
Cormac Weldon, London-based head of US Equities at Threadneedle:
ôThis is a clear victory for Obama and an endorsement not only of the desire to break with the policies of George Bush, but also of ObamaÆs perceived more active approach to addressing economic issues and the credit crisis.ö
ôWhat is also important apart from the Presidential win, and was well-flagged prior to the results, was the stronger mandate given to the Democrats in Congress. This, combined with a marked increase in the House of Representatives majority, will enable President Obama to push through rapid legislation to implement changes in policy. We should expect a phased withdrawal from Iraq, although policies on Afghanistan and Iran are less clear.ö
ôMore importantly from a stock market perspective, we expect measures to stimulate the economy which will accompany the interest rate cuts and the TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program). These may include infrastructure spending, which will help address the rise in unemployment, currently running at 6.1% and expected to approach 10% as the recession bites. There is potential for direct and proactive involvement in the most distressed areas of the housing market. Fiscal policy may well change too û the US budget deficit has deteriorated markedly, and without tax rises ObamaÆs options may be limited.ö
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