Global investors’ confidence in President Barack Obama has plummeted over the past four months, with almost three-quarters of them now viewing his policies as a drag on the U.S. business climate.
Perceptions of European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy also have turned sharply negative after months of tumult in global financial markets, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll. The quarterly poll, conducted Sept. 26, covered 1,031 investors, traders and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers.
Obama’s overall standing with investors has reversed, with 57 percent now viewing the U.S. president unfavorably compared with 55 percent who saw him favorably in the last poll, in May.
“He does not understand the urgency of the debt crisis and its global ripple effect,” poll respondent Scott Troxel, 46, head of the Scandinavian desk at Tradition Group in Lausanne, Switzerland, said in an e-mail. “President Obama must get in front of the problems by taking real risk in achieving a bipartisan solution to long-term debt reduction, credible short-term job stimulus, and tax reform that is more clear and thoughtful than a tax on billionaires.”
Investors’ opinion of Obama’s domestic political opponents also has turned more negative after a protracted standoff on the U.S. debt limit that took the country to the brink of default and as economic growth has slowed. Congressional Republicans are held in even lower esteem than Obama, with 68 percent of investors holding a negative view of the lawmakers versus 51 percent who said so in the last poll.
The sour mood toward U.S. political leaders coincides with a gloomy assessment of the nation’s economy and a decline in investors’ personal fortunes. Half of poll respondents believe the U.S. will dip back into recession within a year and, for the first time since July 2009, more lost personal net worth than gained over the past 12 months. In May, those who said they had a winning 12-month performance outnumbered losers almost 4-to-1.
Since the last investor poll was completed on May 10, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks declined more than 14 percent and the MSCI All-Country World Index of global stocks is down more than 18 percent through 5 p.m., New York time, yesterday.
Obama “has done nothing but oversee an economic train wreck,” says Keith Temperton, 46, a trader at Tavira Securities Ltd. in Monaco.
Confidence in Hu
Almost three times as many investors in the U.S. believe China’s leader, Hu Jintao, is good for his country’s business climate as say Obama is for the U.S. Forty percent of U.S. investors say they are optimistic about Hu’s policies versus 14 percent who say the same for Obama.
Worldwide, 74 percent of respondents say they are pessimistic about the impact of Obama’s policies on the business climate in the U.S., up from 52 percent in May. Seventy-one percent say they are pessimistic about Sarkozy’s policies, up from 58 percent in May, and 59 percent are pessimistic about Merkel, up from 36 percent in May.
Still, investors support some of Obama’s major policy proposals. Fifty-two percent say public works spending on road, bridges and school construction -- a component of Obama’s jobs plan -- will significantly lower unemployment.
And poll respondents say Obama, a Democrat, has laid out a better vision for the nation’s economic future than Republicans, by 42 percent to 34 percent. The rest say they aren’t sure.
That view is significant because of the political outlook of global respondents: Those describing themselves as “right-of-center” outnumber “left-of-center” investors 44 percent to 12 percent; 37 percent say they are “centrist.”
Obama Preferred Overseas
Overseas investors continue to diverge from their U.S. counterparts in their appraisal of Obama and his policies, as they have since the quarterly poll began in July 2009, though his standing has dropped across all regions. Among investors outside the U.S., 52 percent view him favorably while only 17 percent do inside the U.S.
U.S. investors favor Republicans over Obama on their vision for the economy by more than 2-to-1 while investors in other countries prefer Obama’s strategy, also by more than 2-to-1.
The same regional differences emerge on specific policies. Almost two-thirds of U.S. investors say an infrastructure program won’t significantly reduce unemployment while 63 percent of overseas investors say it will.
Even so, 63 percent of U.S. investors now hold an unfavorable view of congressional Republicans; they were evenly split on the party’s lawmakers in the May poll.
Congressional Democrats are rated unfavorably by investors in every region of the globe. Overall, 63 percent of poll respondents have a negative view of the party’s lawmakers, up from 57 percent in May.
The quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll was conducted by Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.