SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

October 3, 2012

Economy takes center stage

SALEM — The economy has been hogging the stage during this election season.

It’s sluggish pace would seem to favor Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital CEO, who emphasizes his business credentials in his bid to be the next leader of the free world. But President Obama makes the case that the economy has improved since he took office in the depths of a recession, and will continue to improve if we stay the course.

We asked three local financial and economic experts to weigh in on what influence the economy has on the election and vice versa.

David Caruso

Founding chairman and CEO

Coastal Capital, Danvers

In 32 years of advising clients about wealth management, Dave Caruso cannot recall a time when the economy has played such a central role in a presidential campaign.

“I can’t remember such a critical discussion on the economy,” Caruso said, “the reason being is we just went through the worst economic crisis in our country.”

Economic indicators like the unemployment rate tend to be lagging indicators, but the stock market and its performance looks forward and gauges sentiment for the future. The Dow Jones Industrial Average may be near its all-time high now, but just how that might translate into an election victory for either side is hard to say.

One way Caruso gauges the stock market’s read on the election is by looking at a Wall Street Election Poll Index conducted by LPL Financial Research.

The poll looks at stocks in S&P 500 industries that tend to do well under Democrats, such as healthcare facilities and services, construction materials, home building and food and staples; versus Republican-favored sectors such as oil and gas drilling, electric utilities, telecommunications services, and coal and consumable fuels.

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