In Europe, it’s Obama-mania

Marketplace Staff Nov 5, 2008
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In Europe, it’s Obama-mania

Marketplace Staff Nov 5, 2008
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TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: All right, call me a geek but last night after the election was decided I got online to check out overseas news reports. I wanted to get a sense of what the global reaction to the vote was.

We’re going to do something similar right now with Marketplace’s Stephen Beard, only with an eye toward the economy. He’s on the line from London. Hello, Stephen.


Stephen Beard: Hello, Kai.

Ryssdal: All right, so take me beyond the headlines. What is the actual mood over there? The reaction to this election?

Beard: Well I think it’s safe to say that Europe is in the grip of Obama-mania. I mean I personally, I can’t recall, and I’m 59, a U.S. presidential election result which has been so widely applauded in Europe or a president-elect who has such good will. I think many Europeans see Obama as just the kind of outward-looking, cool, calm, intelligent American leader that the world needs to get us out of the economic mess we’re in.

Ryssdal: Specifically, what are they thinking about with these high hopes.

Beard: They’re thinking about bridge building, and we’re not talking American infrastructure here. We’re talking about hands across the sea. There’s a lot of, huge, in fact, amount of discussion in Europe about a sort of “new world financial order,” changing the rules and the institutions that have governed the global economy since Bretton Woods in 1944. These institutions, like the IMF and the World Bank, of course, were made in America’s image. Many Europeans now want to see those rules and those institutions changed to reflect the new reality, emerging economies like China and India playing a bigger role. Now, of course, that means a slightly smaller role for the U.S., which might be a difficult sell for the American people. But Europeans feel that Obama is the kind of leader who’s gonna be able to manage that rather tricky transition.

Beard: Are there worries over there over what might happen?

Beard: There are particular concerns. I’ve been talking to brokers and analysts all afternoon in the London financial district. Their particular concern is this extraordinary hiatus you have, this period between the election and inauguration, this two-and-a-half months. And the concern is that really that they feel that the Obama team should be working very closely, very soon with the Bush administration. There is a worry that at this time of all times, we don’t want the world’s biggest economy to not have a decisive hand on the tiller.

Beard: Stephen Beard at the Marketplace European desk in London. Thank you, Stephen.

Beard: OK, Kai.

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