It's Politics, Stupid!

Populists Sideline Economic Reason

FILE PHOTO: Nigel Farage Stands Down as Leader of UKIP
UKIP Leader Nigel Farage on the Brexit campaign trail. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is unlikely to focus on the economy in her campaign because populists like her opponent Donald Trump have convinced voters that a strong economy only benefits corporations and the rich.

  • Facts


    • The Obama administration avoided an economic depression after the 2008 global financial crisis.
    • A wave of renationalization would adversely affect Germany’s strongly export-oriented economy.
    • Many of Germany’s key trading partners when it comes to exports face uncertain political prospects in the near future.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

“It’s the economy, stupid!” was one of the three guiding principles in Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign in 1992. Coined by Clinton campaign manager James Carville, the slogan caught on quickly. He wanted to remind Mr. Clinton’s campaign workers that the recession, accompanied by rising unemployment figures, was a weak spot for then President George H.W. Bush.

Some 24 years later, the United States is in the midst of another presidential election, and this time Mr. Clinton’s wife Hillary is running for the office. She too ought to be able to use the economic situation to her advantage. After all, the U.S. economy has recovered from the worst crisis in seven decades under her fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama. After the 2008 global financial crisis, the Obama administration not only managed to avoid a repetition of the Great Depression of the 1930s, but to trigger a turnaround in the job market.

The U.S. economy is now in the late phase of a weak but lengthy recovery, and there’s no recession in sight – not a bad economic basis for an election campaign. Besides, Ms. Clinton is running against Donald Trump, whose economic program so far is a crude mixture of protectionism and tax cuts for companies and the wealthy.

And yet, Ms. Clinton’s campaign managers have chosen not to use “It’s the economy, stupid!” as one of their guiding principles. Apparently, elections can no longer be won with economic arguments today, whether they’re in the United States or in other established industrialized nations like Britain.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.