According to an unscientific CNN poll, about 60% of
respondents think the Inauguration of President Obama is historic, while about
40% think it is overhyped.
It is both.
It is historic that it is now beyond dispute that the
powerful position in the world is open to all, regardless of race. All things
are possible, even if harder for some than for others. There are no more
Yet the scope for real change in the economy is limited.
Despite the media caricatures, George W Bush did not cause
the recession and Barak Obama does not have the power to end it. Even the
President of the United States cannot command the economy – nor should he try.
However, there are two things he can do.
First, he can be confident. Whether or not he ought to be is
not the point. The markets are an optical illusion: they can turn the
appearance of confidence into the real thing. Mr Obama’s ability to project
confidence is his greatest asset.
Second, he can be patient. Recession is, in practical terms,
unavoidable – but it will pass – or, rather it will pass unless politicians are
panicked into unwise stimulus packages which turn recession into depression. Mr
Obama cannot cure recession, but if he can stay cool and avoid the temptation
of the “quick fix”, then slowly but surely, things will begin to improve.
In his need for confidence and patience, the Chief Executive
of the United States is no different from the chief executives of millions of
small businesses facing recession. If he can deliver them, he will deserve the