Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Its Still the Economy, Stupid ; State of Economy near Election Time Will Influence Voter's Choices

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Its Still the Economy, Stupid ; State of Economy near Election Time Will Influence Voter's Choices

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON In 1992, James Carville popularized the adage Its the economy, stupid. If the economy is ailing, people tend to vote against the party in the White House. That happened in the 1992 election. A recession that started in 1990 was officially over, but it didnt seem over to millions of Americans. They sent President George H.W. Bush into retirement. The question now is whether something similar will happen in 2016.

All eyes are on New Hampshire, but maybe we should be paying more attention to the economy.

Along with the volatile stock market, recent indicators hint at a slowdown or recession. This could change the campaigns complexion once nominees are picked.

Democrats could be thrown on the defensive. Their pitch to the middle class might be blunted, as Republicans blamed President Obama for the slump. Without a recession, it would be harder to attack Obamas policies.

Indisputably, recent economic releases have been downbeat.

Consider: In the fourth quarter, the economy grew at a paltry annual rate of 0.7 percent. Personal spending in December was flat, as Americans saved more of their incomes. The manufacturing sector is weak, hurt by a strong dollar which makes U.S. exports more expensive and less oil exploration. Individually, none of these indicators is conclusive, but they are of a piece.

The good news for Democrats is that many economists (possibly most) dont yet forecast a recession. At worst, they see a temporary pause in the expansion.

Heres a report from economists Beth Ann Bovino and Satyam Panday of Standard & Poors. There have been, they say, 11 economic expansions periods when production and employment are generally increasing since World War II, averaging just over 58 months or nearly five years each.

By this measure, the present expansion which started in the third quarter of 2009 and has lasted 78 months is past its prime and could be near its end.

But the S&P economists doubt that. Indeed, they argue just the opposite. …

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