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Commentary: Choice for US voters concerned about economic prospects could not be clearer

NEW YORK CITY: Joe Biden has consistently held a wide polling lead over US President Donald Trump ah..

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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.

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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.

READ: Trump and Biden go on the attack in fiery, chaotic first presidential debate

READ: Trump deflects debate question about whether he condemns white supremacists

DEMOCRATS PRESIDE OVER FASTER GROWTH

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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).

The escalating trade war is adding to growing fears of a possible recession in the US, with the tariffs weighing on both economies and global trade. (Photo: AFP/GREG BAKER)

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.

READ: Commentary: Clash of the titans as Trump, Biden ready for first presidential debate

READ: Commentary: Americas fragile economy 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.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dek6LCKySyA]

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.

LISTEN: Making money greener in the fight against climate change

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about his plans for tackling climate change during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware on, Jul 14, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis)

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Cultural Influences on Marketing Strategies

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Culture plays a significant role in consumer behavior. It influences everything from how people consume products to the way they look. Creating marketing campaigns that take into account these differences will help your business to succeed.

To begin with, different cultures have their own unique customs and rituals. This includes everything from the number 7 being good luck in the Czech Republic to eating dinner at the end of the day in Ireland.

Another important example is the way language is used to communicate. People in countries like Italy and France tend to eat a lot more packaged pasta and chocolate bars than their American counterparts.

Similarly, different languages can also lead to different marketing messages and branding issues. For example, an American company might create a slogan promoting its latest product. However, if this slogan is translated into a different language, it can lose its original meaning.

Some other aspects that can affect a marketer’s message include business norms, color, and aesthetics. The most important thing to remember when marketing to a foreign country is to understand their culture.

Other cultural differences include religion. Different religions have different beliefs and attitudes about marketing and business. Therefore, it is important to understand how religion impacts how a marketer communicates.

Similarly, different cultures have different attitudes about clothing. Women in many Middle Eastern and Muslim nations are required to wear modest clothing. Likewise, an evening meal in the United States is called dinner, while a similar dinner in Ireland is called tea.

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Pakistan floods: Desperation and displacement in Sindh province

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The Prime Minister of Pakistan has said the “magnitude of the calamity” is bigger than expected, after visiting flood-hit areas.

Shehbaz Sharif was speaking from Sindh province – which has had nearly eight times its average August rainfall.

The floods have killed nearly 1,000 people across Pakistan since June, while thousands have been displaced – and millions more affected.

As the BBC drove through Sindh, there were displaced people in every village.

The full scale of the devastation in the province is yet to be fully understood – but the people described it as the worst disaster they’ve survived.

Floods are not uncommon in Pakistan, but people here said these rains were different – more than anything that’s ever been seen. One local official called them “floods of biblical proportions”.

Near the city of Larkana, thousands of mud homes have sunk under water. For miles all that’s visible is treetops. Where the water level is slightly lower, thatched roofs creep out from underneath the water.

In one village, the people are desperate for food. In another, many children have developed waterborne diseases.

When a mobile truck pulled over, scores of people immediately ran towards it. Children carrying other children made their way to the long queue.

One 12-year-old girl said she and her baby sister had not eaten for a day.

“No food has come here, but my sister is sick, she has been vomiting,” the girl said. “I hope they can help.”

The desperation was evident in every community. People ran towards car windows to ask for help – anything.

On one of the main streets out of the city of Sukkur, hundreds of people have settled.

Many of them walked from remote villages, and were told that help is easier to get in the urban areas. But there’s not much difference here.

On Friday, PM Sharif said 33 million people had been hit by the floods – about 15% of the country’s population.

He said the losses caused by floods this season were comparable to those during the floods of 2010-11, said to be the worst on record. The country has appealed for more international aid.

In Sindh, it’s not that local authorities are not trying, but they admit that they are out of their depth.

The provincial government says this is a “climate change catastrophe” and that the people of Pakistan, especially in the poorer communities, have been the worst affected.

The solutions will not be quick – acres of land are waterlogged and the water is not receding fast enough for any rebuilding to take place here.

There’s not much to do for the people but to wait – wait for the rains to stop, wait for the water to go down, wait for more resources to be allocated to these kinds of communities.

In the meantime, life continues to be difficult.

Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-62699886

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Burkina Faso military says it has seized power

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The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré.

The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.

Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.

His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location.

The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.

Earlier, the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) party said that both Mr Kaboré and a government minister had survived an assassination attempt.

On Sunday, mutinying troops demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda.

The army statement said Mr Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”.

The statement was issued in the name of a group not heard of previously, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French acronym.

Although read out by another officer, the statement was signed by Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who is believed to be the coup leader and a senior commander with years of experience fighting the Islamist militants.

The statement said that parliament and the government had been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, but promised a “return to constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.

The military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso’s borders.

UN chief António Guterres condemned the coup and called on the military to “ensure the protection and the physical integrity” of Mr Kaboré.

The African Union and regional bloc, Ecowas, have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with Ecowas saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president’s well-being.

Earlier, the news of his detention was received with cheers and celebrations in Ouagadougou, reports the BBC’s senior Africa correspondent Anne Soy.

Earlier video footage from the capital appeared to show armoured vehicles – reportedly used by the presidency – peppered with bullet holes and abandoned in the street.

Mobile internet services have been disrupted, though fixed-line internet and domestic wi-fi are working.

Mr Kaboré has not been seen in public since the crisis began, but two posts appeared on his Twitter account before the officer announced he had been toppled.

The later one called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down “in the higher interest of the nation”. Earlier, Mr Kaboré congratulated the national football team on their win in an Africa Cup of Nations match.

It is unclear who posted the tweets.

Some security sources say the president and other government ministers are being held at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks in the capital.

On Sunday, hundreds of people came out in support of the soldiers and some of them set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters.

The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Kaboré.

But discontent has been growing in Burkina Faso over the government’s failure to defeat an Islamist insurgency in the country since 2015.

That escalated in November, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists. And on Saturday, a banned rally to protest against the government’s perceived failure led to dozens of arrests.

Mutinying soldiers made several demands, including: the removal of the army’s chief of staff and the head of the intelligence service; more troops to be deployed to the front line; and better conditions for the wounded and soldiers’ families.

Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.

Burkina Faso is now the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.

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