NEW YORK CITY: Joe Biden has consistently held a wide polling lead over US President Donald Trump ahead of Novembers election.
But, despite Trumps botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic – a failure that has left the economy far weaker than it otherwise would have been – he has maintained a marginal edge on the question of which candidate would be better for the US economy.
Thanks to Trump, a country with just 4 per cent of the worlds population now accounts for more than 20 per cent of total COVID-19 deaths – an utterly shameful outcome, given Americas advanced, albeit expensive, healthcare system.
DEMOCRATS PRESIDE OVER FASTER GROWTH
The presumption that Republicans are better than Democrats at economic stewardship is a longstanding myth that must be debunked.
In our 1997 book, Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy, the late (and great) Alberto Alesina and I showed that Democratic administrations tend to preside over faster growth, lower unemployment, and stronger stock markets than Republican presidents do.
In fact, US recessions almost always occur under Republican administrations – a pattern that has persisted since our book appeared.
The recessions of 1970, 1980-1982, 1990, 2001, 2008-2009, and, now, 2020 all occurred when a Republican was in the White House (with the exception of the double-dip recession of 1980-1982, which started under Jimmy Carter but continued under Ronald Reagan).
Likewise, the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 was triggered by the 2007-2008 financial crisis, which also occurred on the GOPs watch.
WHY REPUBLICAN POLICIES LEAD TO RECESSIONS
This tendency is not random: Loose regulatory policies lead to financial crises and recessions. And, compounding matters, Republicans consistently pursue reckless fiscal policies, spending as much as Democrats do, but refusing to raise taxes to make up for the resulting budget shortfalls.
Owing to such mismanagement under the George W Bush presidency, President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression.
In early 2009, the US unemployment rate surpassed 10 per cent, growth was in free fall, the budget deficit had already exceeded US$1.2 trillion, and the stock market was down almost 60 per cent.
Yet, by the end of Obamas second term in early 2017, all of those indicators had massively improved.
In fact, even before the COVID-19 recession, US employment and GDP growth, as well as the stock markets performance, were better under Obama than under Trump.
Just as Trump inherited millions from his father, only to squander it on business failures, so he inherited a strong economy from his predecessor, only to wreck it within a single term.
MARKETS SEEM TO FAVOUR A BIDEN PRESIDENT
The rally in equity prices this past August coincided with a hardening of Bidens polling lead, suggesting that markets are not nervous about a Biden presidency, or about the prospects of a Democratic sweep of Congress.
The reason is simple: A Biden administration would be unlikely to pursue radical economic policies. Biden may be surrounded by progressive advisers, but they are all fully within the political mainstream.
Moreover, his vice-presidential pick, US Senator Kamala Harris of California, is a proven moderate, and most of the Democratic senators who would be seated in a new Congress are more centrist than the left wing of their party.
Yes, a Biden administration might raise marginal tax rates on corporations and the top 1 per cent of households, which Trump and congressional Republicans cut merely to give wealthy donors and corporations a US$1.5 trillion handout.
But a higher tax rate would result in only a modest hit to corporate profits. And any costs to the economy would be more than offset by closing the loopholes that allow for tax avoidance and shifting profits and production abroad, and with Bidens proposed “Made in America” policies to bring more jobs, profits, and production home.
BIDEN HAS A PLAN FOR JOBS, GROWTH AND MARKETS
Moreover, while Trump and his fellow Republicans have not even bothered to formulate a policy platform for this election, Biden has proposed a suite of fiscal policies designed to boost economic growth.
If Democrats take control of both houses of Congress and the White House, a Biden administration would pursue a larger fiscal stimulus targeted at households, workers, and small businesses that need it, as well as job-creating infrastructure spending and investments in the green economy.
Ukraine nursing home fire: Four arrested after Kharkiv blaze leaves 15 dead
Ukrainian authorities have arrested four people in connection with a deadly fire at a retirement home in Kharkiv.
15 people were killed after a blaze ripped through the nursing home on Thursday afternoon in the eastern Ukrainian city, according to emergency services.
Nine others were rescued, five of whom have been taken to hospital for treatment.
Pictures from the scene showed blackened rooms and barred windows on the upper floor of the two-storey building, which had been converted into a home for the elderly. 50 firefighters attended the incident to extinguish the flames.
In a statement on Facebook, the country’s attorney general, Iryna Venediktova, said four people have been arrested.
The suspects include those who owned and rented the building, as well as the manager of the retirement home. Authorities say they are investigating if the fire was started by arson or the short circuit of an electrical appliance.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the centre in Kharkiv and has announced a national day of mourning for Saturday.
In an earlier tweet, the President called on local authorities to do “everything possible” to help victims and relatives who had lost loved ones.
Europe’s space leaders seek to boost sector in light of Brexit, COVID and international competition
The European Space Conference in Brussels takes place this week, so Euronews spoke to European Space Agency Director General Jan Wörner about the challenges the sector faces in 2021.
Brexit troubles Europe’s space sector
Brexit is a headache for the European space sector, as the UK is a permanent and committed member of ESA, but is now outside the EU. Leaving the EU has made everything more complicated: under the terms of the agreement signed in December 2020 the UK can continue to be part of the Copernicus Earth observation programme at least until 2028, as both the EU and ESA contribute funding to it. However, it loses access to high-quality positioning from the EU’s Galileo satellites, and is now out of EGNOS. The British stop being a full member of the European space debris tracking system, but still have access to it as a non-EU partner.
There are outstanding questions over the role of British companies in building spacecraft for EU-related projects. ESA DG Jan Wörner told Euronews he believes ‘it is possible to have a solution’, given that non-EU countries like Switzerland and Norway are able to take part in the construction of satellites under Brussels contracts. However, the sheer size of the UK space sector is an issue. “Some fear in Brussels that if a big member state is doing something different, then this could be a magnet for other countries to do the same,” admits Wörner.
EU project to beam internet to all
A hot topic around the virtual and real water coolers at the Brussels Space Conference will be the Commission’s new plans to create a network of low-Earth orbiting internet satellites, which should offer broadband, 5G and more to rural communities across the bloc.
The initiative is being spearheaded by Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, with a broad consortium of space industry players comprising Airbus, SES, Arianespace, Eutelsat, OHB, Orange, Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space.
The vision is similar to the Starlink and OneWeb systems, both of which have already launched satellites aimed at offering a new kind of holy grail in communications, a low-flying communications network from orbit which allows everyone, at least in theory, to enjoy high-speed connectivity.
The European version would be a public-private partnership, and initial work will begin this year.
Defining ESA-EU relations
The EU’s enthusiasm for space is clear: just before Christmas the European Commission and Parliament approved a 14.8 billion euro budget for EU space activity. The funding for the period 2021 to 2027 includes 9 billion for Galileo and 5.4 billion for Copernicus.
It’s part of a continued and rising commitment to developing Europe’s space sector, but it does beg the question of just how close ESA and the EC would like to become? For Wörner, moving further in the EU’s direction is a ‘political decision’ but not one that necessarily fits with ESA’s principals on return on investment, which see agency member states receiving reciprocal industrial contracts which are very close in size to their level of investment in a given programme. “The link between what ESA is doing and what states want to happen is very close, and a really big advantage,” he says.
The current director of Earth Observation at ESA, Josef Aschbacher, has said that defining the relationship between the two organisations is one of his main objectives when he replaces Wörner in July 2021.
Competition from US and China
A key focus of the Brussels Space Conference is the desire for Europe to develop a vibrant and independent private space sector. So far, major initiatives like Galileo and Copernicus have spawned a large number of small and specialist space startups selling value-added services based on the free data from these two projects. However, the old continent has so far struggled to create the kind of attention-grabbing commercial space firms like SpaceX and Planet Labs that NASA has helped foster in the US.
Then, there’s the speedy growth and unbridled ambition of the Chinese to take into account. When Jan Wörner first came to his job in 2015 he made a media splash with his dreams of creating a ‘village on the Moon’. In late 2020, however, he could only watch in awe as the Chinese sent a robotic mission to fetch samples from the Moon. It’s something only the Soviet Union and the United States have achieved before.
“My first thought was congratulations, of course,” he says, “but I quickly thought ‘ah, they are fast, and we should be faster'”. He told Euronews he hopes the joint ESA-NASA Mars Sample Return mission will be even more inspiring and impressive and give Europe’s exploration programme a much-needed boost in publicity.
There are areas where ESA is a leader, particularly in Earth observation thanks to the Sentinel fleet. Catching space debris and working out how to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth are another two of the growth areas for public and private initiatives in Europe. ESA is also pushing ahead with its Space Rider vehicle, an un-crewed flying machine which resembles a mini-Shuttle, and could offer commercial and institutional clients a relatively low-cost means of reaching orbit, and returning home afterwards.
However, the new Ariane 6 rocket continues to face delays. Much vaunted as a flexible new vehicle to compete in this highly-competitive market, the replacement for the heavy-lift Ariane 5 is now only due to launch in the second quarter of 2022. Arianespace has called on European governments to step up their commitment to launchers to better compete with SpaceX, which has grown rapidly on the basis of lucrative American government launch contracts.
Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.
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