Tuesday, October 16, 2012

At Tonight’s Debate, Will Anyone Get Gas?

Stocks closed in on their biggest one-day gain since the Fed announced new stimulus measures in mid-September. Experts said the rally was driven by better-than-expected earnings from blue chip stocks and very optimistic numbers from the retail and housing sectors. That said, we’ll have to see what happens in the financial sector after the surprise resignation of CitiGroup head Vikram Pandit. His departure came one day after the bank reported an 88 drop in third-quarter profits. Also keep your eye on the tech sector—another big area for our clients and both IBM and Intel reported disappointing Q3 earnings. Intel blamed a decline in demand for PCs and IBM blamed lackluster tech spending globally and currency fluctuations. What you need to ask yourself as both an investor and as a B2B marketer, is this: In the case of all three of these aforementioned Blue Chips, are we looking a lackluster global demand, unpopular products, ineffective marketing or inability to innovate fast enough. We think it’s the last two.

The Debate, Round 2

So we’re going to try the town-hall thing again tonight. Remember 2008, when Mr. Obama squared went at it against
John McCain in a town hall brawl. Gasoline prices were about $3.80 a gallon; Wall Street was in the middle of its worst week ever; President Bush had just created TARP and the economy—rather how the heck to fix it—dominate the verbal sparring.
In some circles, cynics would say not much has changed. Gasoline prices average $3.78 today—much higher in California and the northeast; unemployment remains historically very high; and each side will blame the other for not being specific enough about who has the better plan to jumpstart the economy.

Both sides will be trying to sell you on their vision, but that’s all it is—a vision of the future. By a healthy skeptic about anything you hear tonight.As was the case four years ago, energy independence is likely to come up as gas prices are up 16 percent in the past two months alone. Four years ago, Mr. Obama said prices at the pump were high enough to make energy policy “priority number one” for his administration; health care was explicitly meant to be “priority number two.” Gas prices are about the same, but priorities sound a little different. Hmm.


As a wise man once said, it’s a recession when your neighbor loses their job; it’s a depression when you lose your own job. Are we better off than we were four years ago? Most Americans would say yes—but how much better after four years of anguish and a whole lot of effort?
As was the case in 2008, both parties will probably trumpet energy as the magic cure for the slow growth economy—even if their prescriptions have very different side effects and very mixed results. If people don’t have jobs to drive to or need more fuel to keep their fleets running, then it doesn’t matter how low gas prices go when there’s no demand for the stuff.

We’re not going to tell you how to vote in November. But, we’re urging you to take the process seriously and remember this: the Election is just the first step…you need to stay on your elected officials throughout their terms to honor their promises and be accountable to their constituents. Otherwise it’s just a lot of hot air.

TAGS: Obama, Romney, gas prices, presidential debates, CitiGroup, IBM, Intel, economy, Vikram Pandit


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