Since the beginning of the year two Big Things have happened. First, the presidential campaign has moved into high gear, the fixation with who’s ahead and who’s behind having transitioned into an obsession. Second, the markets have tanked, oil prices plunging and stocks in a nearly equally vertiginous decline.
Both stories have been widely reported, the first ad nauseam, the second with a ring of panicky consistency. But, they have not been reported in tandem. They are reported on separately, as if the first is unrelated to the second.
But, of course, the opposite is true. The two stories – the one about the election and the other about money and markets – are inextricably linked. Money and markets are key components of context, which inevitably means that they influence the outcomes of presidential elections.
The strength of the dollar; the trajectory of equities; the rates of interest; the price of oil as well as other commodities; the rates of unemployment and underemployment; the levels of productivity; the economies of other countries, especially China – all these will be electoral determinants. They’re less sexy a subject of study than the men and women standing center stage. But the Dow Jones Industrial Average will have as much of an impact on who wins the White House in November as the candidates themselves.