Obama Seen Stronger Against Terrorism Than Bush in Global Investor Poll

Global investors say President Barack Obama has done a better job of fighting terrorism than former President George W. Bush, while U.S. investors rate the ex- president higher.

Outside the U.S., Obama is rated stronger than Bush on terrorism, 48 percent to 16 percent, in the Bloomberg Global Poll. Worldwide, Obama has a 40 percent to 29 percent edge in the quarterly poll taken May 9-10 of 1,263 Bloomberg customers who are investors, analysts and traders.

Fabian Fritzsche, 32, a poll respondent from Collineo Asset Management GmbH in Dortmund, Germany, says Obama deserves credit for improving the world’s view of the U.S.

“The Obama administration improved the reputation of the U.S.A. -- i.e., the soft power of America -- which will make it more difficult for terrorists to recruit new terrorists,” Fritzsche said. “That is probably, in the long term, the most efficient way to fight terrorism.”

By 54 percent to 26 percent, investors in the U.S. questioned in the poll give Bush, a Republican, better marks than the current occupant of the White House, a Democrat, for fighting terrorism.

The death of Osama bin Laden will have little impact on world markets, according to the poll of global investors who disagree, depending on where they live, about how much credit to give for the war against terrorism.

Bin Laden’s Death

Almost three-quarters of the people questioned say bin Laden’s death will make no difference to the investment climate, compared with about 20 percent who say the financial outlook will improve because of the al-Qaeda leader’s demise.

“The global investment community has grown accustomed to the threats of the post-9/11 world and had already discounted them prior to bin Laden’s death,” said poll participant Douglas Schoninger, 50, president of New York-based DJS Capital Management Inc. “The death of bin Laden does not change the equation. Unless an act of terror is of mass-destructive scale or global in its economic impact, any market reaction will be short-lived.”

Crude oil for June delivery initially fell as much as 2.7 percent on May 2 after news that bin Laden had been killed by U.S. Navy SEALs, then rebounded to end the day down 0.4 percent at $113.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.18 percent on May 2 to 1,361.22 and the Euro Stoxx 50 Index fell 0.08 percent to 3,008.89.

Some Potential

Some participants in the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points on the full sample, see more potential benefit from bin Laden’s death.

“Bin Laden was a thorn in every government’s side,” said Joseph Russo, 43, a managing director and co-head of capital markets in New York for Rait Securities LLC. “His death, over time, will save billions in security spending as his terrorist group falls apart. The price of oil will fall. As it does, it is good for the global economy.”

Investors are divided on whether the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden increases the risk of terrorism. The largest group -- 40 percent -- says his death won’t have any effect on the frequency of attacks, 37 percent say it will make them more likely and 17 percent say they will be less likely.

“The hunt for Osama bin Laden has been going on for quite some time, and investors may have already discounted his influence,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Des Moines, Iowa- based Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll.

To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Chicago at jmccormick16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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