Historic election brings high expectations

A potentially deep U.S. recession and the sharpest global financial crisis since the Great Depression will give Democrat Barack Obama, the first black elected president, little time to bask in the afterglow of his historic win in the U.S. presidential election, reports MarketWatch.

Obama, who promised change in a climate of unprecedented voter dissatisfaction with Washington in general and with the outgoing Bush White House in particular, captured 52 percent of the nationwide vote. Democrats extended their majority control in Congress, but failed to win a supermajority in the U.S. Senate. U.S. markets opened lower today while world financial markets were mixed, as investors watch to see the president-elect’s next moves. "The task for the new president is to first restore trust and confidence," said Jim Dunigan, managing executive for investments at PNC Wealth Management. "We saw a little bit of that ... [and] people are hopeful. He's got to deliver on that early."

World reaction was largely positive. "At a time when we must face huge challenges together, your election has raised enormous hope in France, in Europe and beyond," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy. U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who sent his "warmest congratulations" to Obama, said, “This is a moment that will live in history as long as history books are written." Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said he would work with Obama to "strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance further and work toward resolving global issues such as the world economy, terror and the environment." But the Russian government reacted cautiously and said it was up to Obama to improve deteriorating relations between the two countries.
"A historic change of leadership now comes to match the historic financial and economic challenge," said Marco Annunziata, chief global economist at UniCredit MIB.

As an election judge this year, I couldn’t help being inspired by the huge numbers of first-time and previously disenfranchised voters who stood in long lines to vote. They have high expectations; let us hope that Obama will run his administration as well as his campaign.