Inheritance From Hell: Presidential Economics

One key issue for the next president will be "getting the financial system back so that it is actually contributing to growth," he said

"In the last four weeks the situation has moved from what was a U.S. issue to a global issue, impacting emerging markets," Alexander said. Firstly, "the economy is contracting quite sharply, that would be challenge number one. The expectation is that the economy is going to be contracting through the middle of next year, with mild growth following that."

"The floor is just falling out from under, you saw that last week in the consumer confidence number," he said. "A lot of headway has been made with the [Troubled Asset Relief Plan] and other programs but that has yet to be played out."

Alexander said that when Bill Clinton took office in 1992 and when Ronald Reagan took over in 1980 they faced a sort of cyclical challenge that is not the acute problem in the financial and global sector that is seen now.

"Inevitably whoever wins is going to have to focus on getting the economy going. That inevitably means they are going to have to rein in their priorities," Alexander said. "Both candidates have focused on health care and despite what has gone on economically, I think that focus will continue because unless you get your arms around that it's going to be hard to make the long run work."

"If the economic situation weren't so bad you probably would have seen Obama and likely McCain come out with a big health-care push early on in the administration," he said. "It probably won't be that soon now but I think they will try to make a run at it."

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