An unwelcome prospect


hillary.jpgThe US is in recession – it's official. Well, maybe not quite official, but according to quite a few people like former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers it is, while folk like Lehman Brothers are predicting negative growth for the first two quarters of this year – which would indeed be a recession on the standard definitions. Some think that as people lose their jobs and fail to meet their mortgage payments, that could just deepen the banks' problems even further.

I suppose – unfortunately – that is good news for Hillary Clinton. She's been doing well in the industrial states where workers have seen their jobs undermined by global competition and the (to them and Hillary) hated NAFTA. Southern states may well have large black populations who would like to see one of their own make it: but they also have large populations of all sorts who have lost their jobs and think that Clinton's more protectionist stance would help them.

It wouldn't. And in the longer term, more US protectionism would be bad not just for America – but for everyone else too. The UK is highly dependent on US trade, and there is less of that already. Even mighty China has seen its steel exports suffer a big fall as American housebuilding slows. Greater US protectionism – even the threat of it – would rein in trade even more. Sorry, Hillary, but that's not a welcome prospect.