EKONOMI | Hur stort inflytande har en amerikansk president på den ekonomiska utvecklingen i en modern ekonomi?
Arbetslösheten i USA ligger på fem procent. Underskottet minskar och BNP ökar. Trots detta känner sig många amerikaner att utvecklingen går i fel riktning.
Frågan är om president Barack Obama borde klarat av att kommunicera en mer positiv bild av vad som uppnåtts under hans tid i Vita huset – detta trots att hans politiska motståndare inte har vikt en tum i sin nattsvarta beskrivning av den ekonomiska utvecklingen.
Andrew Ross Sorkin, finansiell kolumnist, skriver i The New York Times Magazine om det ekonomiska arv som Barack Obamas sannolikt lämnar efter sig.
Often in our conversations, the president expressed a surprising degree of identification with America’s business leaders. “If I hadn’t gone into politics and public service,” Obama told me, “the challenges of creating a business and growing a business and making it work would probably be the thing that was most interesting to me.” His showy embrace of capitalism was especially notable given his fractious relationship with Wall Street and the business community for much of his first term.
In December 2009, Obama was not reluctant to chastise bankers. “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street,” he told Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes.” “The people on Wall Street still don’t get it. They don’t get it. They’re still puzzled, ‘Why is it that people are mad at the banks?’ ”
Given the national mood at the time, Obama’s words shouldn’t have come as a surprise to the business leaders. But the financial sector had buoyed Obama’s campaign, giving him $16 million in political support, nearly twice what McCain received from it, and some executives responded to his new populism in emotional terms. “It’s a war,” Stephen Schwarzman, a co-founder of Blackstone Group, the giant private-equity firm, said of Obama in 2010 and his effort to close a tax loophole that benefited the industry. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.” (Schwarzman later apologized.) Others seemed more concerned with the language itself. In 2011, Leon Cooperman, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, wrote a public letter to Obama, saying: “The divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them. It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents.”
When I asked him about these reactions, Obama laughed. The criticism he leveled at Wall Street “was extraordinarily mild,” he said, but “it hurt their feelings. I would have some of them say to me, ‘You know, my son came home and asked me, ‘Am I a fat cat?’ ” He laughed again.
Obama’s rhetoric does seem mild, at least compared with the withering contempt of, say, Franklin Roosevelt, who, laying out the objectives for the second stage of the New Deal in 1936, said that reckless bankers and speculators are “unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.” Obama, to the contrary, seems to find their hatred irritating. “One of the constants that I’ve had to deal with over the last few years is folks on Wall Street complaining even as the stock market went from in the 6,000s to 16,000 or 17,000,” he said. “They’d be constantly complaining about our economic policies. That’s not rooted in anything they’re experiencing; it has to do with ideology and their aggravations about higher taxes.”
It has always been the case that voters credit or, more often, blame the president for the nation’s economic performance. But it is also the case that the president generally has considerably less sway to move the economy than even he might like to acknowledge. And as the economy continues to disperse, that sway may be diminishing further. A president has less power than ever, in either a hard- power (legal/regulatory) or soft-power (cultural) sense, over American chief executives, let alone over the chief executives of multinationals based in France or China or other places where many U.S. employers make their headquarters.
Obama considered the problem from a political perspective. “In some ways,” he said, “engaging in those hard changes that we need to make to create a more nimble, dynamic economy doesn’t yield immediate benefits and can seem like a distraction or an effort to undermine a bygone era that doesn’t exist. And that then feeds, both on the left and the right, a temptation to say, ‘If we could just go back to an era in which our borders were closed,’ or ‘If we could just go back to a time when everybody had a defined-benefit plan,’ or ‘We could just go back to a time when there wasn’t any immigrant that was taking my job, things would be O.K.’ ” He didn’t mention Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders by name, but the implications were obvious.
Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine den 1 maj 2016.