Global investors like Mitt Romney better than any other U.S. presidential candidate, while remaining cool to the Republican field in general.
About one in five investors say the former Massachusetts governor and founder of private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, would be best for the world economy among all the Republican contenders, according to a Sept. 26 Bloomberg Global Poll. All the other candidates are in single-digits. And by a margin of 37 percent to 34 percent, investors say Romney would be better for the economy than would President Barack Obama.
Among U.S. investors, Romney does much better than Obama, with 69 percent favoring him on the economy versus 16 percent for the president. Romney, who will face off against the other Republicans in an Oct. 11 Dartmouth College debate sponsored by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post, is seen less favorably overseas, according to the quarterly poll, which covered 1,031 investors, traders and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers.
“Romney isn’t an enthusiastic choice,” says Sam Katzman, 49, chief investment officer at Constellation Wealth Advisors in New York. “But he’s better than Obama.”
Twenty-one percent of international investors say Romney would handle the world economy better than the other Republicans. More than half either choose none of the contenders or say they have no idea.
Obama Over Perry
Texas Governor Rick Perry doesn’t fare as well against Obama among global investors. They choose Obama over Perry by 42 percent to 28 percent, though the governor also scores better among U.S. respondents, with 52 percent saying he would handle the world economy better than Obama, who gets 30 percent. Perry trails Romney among U.S. respondents, with 34 percent saying Romney would be best for the global economy among the Republican contenders, and 7 percent picking Perry.
“I would prefer Romney over Perry for the simple reason that any politician who attacks and wants to remove even a minute piece of the Federal Reserve’s independence is a negative for the confidence investors need to invest in the U.S.,” says Jonathan Sadowsky, chief investment officer at San Francisco-based Vaca Creek Asset Management.
Just three days after he started his campaign on Aug. 13, Perry said things could get “ugly” for Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke in Texas if he tries additional, “almost treasonous,” monetary stimulus measures.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who served as Obama’s ambassador to China, gets 6 percent among global investors on the economy. Huntsman is favored by 7 percent of Asia respondents.
Paul, Cain Trail
Eight percent of global respondents say Texas Congressman Ron Paul would do the best job on the world economy among Republicans. Former Godfather’s Pizza Chief Executive Officer Herman Cain gets 3 percent support as does former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum each get 1 percent.
“It is not just that Romney dominates investors’ views of the Republican field; the other candidates tested are actively disliked,” says J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that conducted the survey.
While U.S. investors prefer Romney over Obama on the world economy, the president does better overseas, with 50 percent of Europeans choosing him versus 13 percent for Romney, and Asian respondents picking him by a margin of 31 percent to 26 percent.
Since the quarterly poll began in July 2009, overseas investors have expressed a far more positive view of Obama and his policies than have U.S. investors, though his standing has dropped across all regions as the global economy has slowed and debt concerns mount, especially in Europe. Among investors outside the U.S., 52 percent view him favorably while 17 percent do inside the U.S.
In a reflection of Romney’s popularity among U.S. investors, he has raised more than twice as much money from Wall Street as Obama -- an edge gained in part by luring away at least 100 donors, mostly investors, who backed the president in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Romney also does better than Perry and the other Republicans on respondents’ overall feeling about the candidates.
Fifty-one percent of global investors have an unfavorable view of Perry against just 17 percent with a positive feeling; his numbers are bad in the U.S., too, with 62 percent of investors there saying they have an unfavorable view of him, compared with 32 percent with a favorable view.
Global Growth Slows
Thirty-two percent of global investors have a positive view of Romney, versus 34 percent with an unfavorable impression. His numbers were stronger in the U.S., with 59 percent of respondents saying they have a positive feeling about him, against 35 percent with a negative view.
The International Monetary Fund last month cut its forecast for global growth and predicted “severe” repercussions if Europe fails to contain its debt crisis or U.S. policy makers can’t break an impasse over a plan to reduce the federal deficit. The world economy will expand 4 percent this year and next, the IMF said, compared with June forecasts of 4.3 percent in 2011 and of 4.5 percent in 2012. The U.S. growth projection for 2011 was lowered to 1.5 percent from 2.5 percent in June.
The Bloomberg Global Poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.