I was very happy with the US election result, not just because Barack Obama was re-elected — though that too, but because the result vindicated people like Nate Silver. Silver and others like him predicted the election result very accurately, based on a detailed reading of polls and ‘fundamentals’ data. And according to them, the contours of the election remained pretty constant throughout the year. But they were pilloried by pundits and bloviators who saw gamechangers and momentums every week. As a ‘facts and figures’ guy, I was firmly in Mr Silver’s camp, and I am glad that he won.
Yes, if it’s not obvious, I try to be as much about facts and figures as possible. This doesn’t mean my analysis is free of judgment or bias — not only is that impossible, but also, hopefully, the readers care about my opinion. But I feel strongly that those opinions should be based on something solid. In economic analysis, that means looking at the data. In the realm of politics, that means looking at what the players publicly promise or do.
I don’t have access to the corridors of power. Nor do I know the high and the mighty. So I cannot rely on the inside story from anyone, or base my analysis on the atmospherics. But most of the time, the detachment actually helps with the analysis. For example, back in January 2010, when most people were either ecstatic or apoplectic about the Bangladeshi Prime Minister trip to India, I parsed the Indo-Bangla joint communique and decided to ignore the hype.
I’ll let the reader judge how my analysis of Hasina Wajed’s India trip played out. Instead, let me talk about Khaleda Zia’s India trip. For those of you affected by the Hurricane Sandy or too busy following the US election, Bangladesh’s leader of the opposition visited India between 27 October and 3 November. The trip has got the Bangladeshi chattering classes talking. For a big picture analysis of what it means for our politics, I refer you to Zafar Sobhan, with whom I fully agree on this occasion. In a personal correspondence, he adds:
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t think India’s support for this government is that deep. If push comes to shove, they won’t bail them out, and perhaps that is all that BNP can ask for.
Okay, all that is good, but what about the fact-based analysis, you ask? Well, it’s a bit hard because opposition politicians don’t get to write communiques. But turns out, we can still analyse BNP’s India policy by parsing some publicly available documents.
So Barack Obama has been re-elected as the
Emperor of the World President of the United States. Cool. I guess I should do a post, just to mark the occasion.
The thing is, until very late in the game, I couldn’t get excited about this election. You see, until the first debate, betting markets consistently had Obama as the odds on favourite. And on most issues, I agree with the president’s politics. So what was there to get excited about? It’s not like any of this would ever happen.
Then, for a while after the first debate, it looked like things could shake up a bit. Except it didn’t. By mid-October, the betting market had gone back to portraying Obama as the favourite. And yesterday, the votes reflected the punters’ expectations.
But imagine if Obama had a better first debate? Would that have led to a landslide? Imagine if Michelle Obama had cut the president’s tie?
I am not an American. But as a de facto subject of the de facto American Empire, obviously I have an interest in who our next Imperial Overlord will be. Four years ago, I urged my American readers to vote for Barack Obama. Those arguments, broadly speaking, still holds. So, dear reader, if you’re an American and for some reason still undecided, please re-elect your president.
Four years ago, I thought Obama was going to win, and acted on that belief. I was lot more sanguine about the better angels of America than my friends with whom I wagered — they were convinced that America wasn’t ready for a black president with middle name Hussein.
Turns out, I was lucky. According to a fascinating paper, racism might have won the election for John McCain. And if these estimates are right, Mitt Romney might easily be the next
Global Emperor President of the United States.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Bangladesh’s place in India’s shadow – the idea that Bangladesh is just too small relative to India, meaning that even a friendly and well meaning government in Dhaka is likely to be ignored in New Delhi (arguably what’s happening now). Is Bangladesh forever doomed to be in India’s shadow? Will it always be ignored in New Delhi?
Well, one way Bangladesh could matter to India is by being a threat to India — you know, by vowing to fight a 1,000 year jihad, and exporting insurgency and revolution and such like. Let’s ignore that path — no one wants to re-create East Pakistan. So, what else can Bangladesh do?
What if Bangladesh was an economic powerhouse? Surely that would have made a difference, in a good way.
Let’s give this possibility some concrete shape by looking at the G20 group of major economies.