Romney, Key share solid economic credentials, cachet

18:27, Oct 29 2012

Peter Orszag is a hell of a name to have to live with, but we people with challenging monikers are stoic about our misfortunes.

And yet Peter Orszag has recently gained some prominence in New Zealand when he publicly stated that, and I quote, "If you look across all the developed countries, there is only one which has actually got the [economic] balance right and that is New Zealand."

He went on to say that, "New Zealand have coupled additional stimulus with medium-term fiscal consolidation [long-term saving]. That's the right combination".

Kind words from anyone, but Mr Orszag is no ordinary economist. He has some pretty interesting credentials.

Until recently he was one of President Barack Obama's top economic advisers; in fact, chairman of the Office of Management and Budget and you can't get nearer to the White House decision-making centre than that.

In his own country he has become an Obama sceptic and joins the majority in a recent poll which shows that more than 50 per cent of Americans believe Obama's first term has been a financial failure. He left the White House, along with two of Obama's other reputable economic advisers, Lawrence Summers, who had previously worked for the Clinton Administration, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.


Maybe that is why this Obama administration now appears fiscally rudderless.

To be at the top of any administration you need to have a strong understanding of your own country's financial structure and where it fits into the rest of the world.

Mitt Romney and John Key have this one trait in common; they both have strong practical economic backgrounds.

Key rose through the ranks of the world's top merchant banks to reach a very senior position at Merrill Lynch and Romney headed Baines Corporation, a well-respected venture capitalist investor in small and potentially successful businesses.

Neither Romney nor Key inherited their substantial wealth; they made it by dint of their own hard work and proven risk-taking skills. In fact, both came from poor backgrounds. Key was a child of a widowed and struggling mother living in a State house and Romney grew from his role as a pastor in the Mormon Church. When either talks about the economies of their own countries people stop and listen.

As we run into the US elections I've been interested to watch the American public's understandable love affair with President Obama being whittled away by the plain and, at times, almost boring economic explanations given by Mitt Romney. Their credible content has not been eroded by Obama's charm or wit.

The next decade is going to be more difficult than the last and needs steady economic helmsmanship.

As I write this the US polls are showing that Obama's once-considerable lead has been eroded to a point where it is too difficult to pick a clear winner.

I've always felt that Obama's election was a huge gamble by the American people. After all, they are not only "the home of the brave" but also the hub of world capitalism. To put a socialist in charge, despite his lovely smile and glib countenance, was always very risky.

We wait to see who the American voters will choose.

And by the way, I said at the beginning of this article that Peter Orszag's comments had gained considerable prominence; I perhaps exaggerated. Only by sheer fluke did I come upon his comments on a political website.

Funny that, isn't it?

Obviously the mainstream media didn't think it was newsworthy. It's not that people in the media are deliberately ignoring any news items that favour the centre-right, it's more that they have, over time, been educated to think that it's not important and that their readers, viewers or listeners will not be interested.

Now that is a serious and sad state for the Fourth Estate to find itself in.

Waikato Times