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The thoughts of Albert Ellis, CEO, Harvey Nash Plc

The Apple President

We congratulate the President and Team Obama on this momentous victory for a second term in office as President of the USA and leader of the free world. We salute him for his achievement and wish him well through to 2016.

The White House

We are already well acquainted with President Barack Obama as the Blackberry President (see my post in November 2008) who is the most technologically savvy leader among the G8 economies.

In fact, the very first President to use smartphone and social media technology, elected in November 2008. That was then this is now. Over the last four years, we now know he is a growing Apple fan as well, toting a MacBook and an iPad.

Apple

147 years after the Thirteenth Amendment permanently abolished slavery across the United States of America, President Obama has entered his second term as the first black President of America. Whatever the politics, this election will be historically significant just like the one in 2008. During his first term, Apple Inc. has become the most valuable company in the world.

Barack Obama

So what is the key challenge facing the President as he fires up his MacBook? The financial markets were asking the same question even as the Dow Jones dropped 2% in New York trading in the hours following the victory celebrations in Chicago.

Unemployment remains very high by historical standards not only in the US but also here in Europe. A second term President, reaching to solve the challenges facing his country in a bi-partisan way can do something very special. If he is brave enough.

There is one stain on his first term record, which President Obama cannot easily wipe away, and it was his actual or perceived lack of focus on the economy, his approach to business. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, his alternative vision of being a 'CEO President' executing business-like solutions, although credible, was not enough to win even though what the US and global economy needs right now is economic leadership. Virtually unthinkable in today's climate, is the miracle of 25 years ago when two politicians from the Right and two Communists changed the world - Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Fran├žois Mitterrand and Mikhail Gorbachev. Standing on the common ground on key issues facing the world, they witnessed the collapse of the Berlin Wall and gave birth to a new post Cold War Technological Age.

So where to start?

President Obama's first term will be associated with healthcare reform. The costs of this historic legislation must be honestly reckoned and also paid for. The ideology of "new deal" fiscal stimulus will require moderation and a parallel deficit reduction strategy. Instead of the anti-business rhetoric and Wall Street bashing, Obama needs a credible strategy to enable business to create new jobs with confidence and spend the cash currently held in offshore tax havens.

While Steve Jobs offered to develop campaign ads for Obama and the leaders of Google and Microsoft shovelled cash towards his re-election, tech companies were being conservative when it came to business. They argue for reductions in regulation and when it comes to taxation, they have far more in common with the GOP than the Democratic Party. Thanks to its byzantine tax arrangements, Apple was able to keep its overseas tax bill in 2011 down to just 1.9 per cent. There's not many schools and hospitals being built or green energy investment made available from those meagre proceeds.

Perhaps however, he needs to listen to Steve Jobs on "jobs".

In his conversations with President Obama reported by his biographer, the CEO of Apple criticised the education system for being crippled by union work rules. He argued that until the teachers unions are broken, there would be almost no hope for education reform to boost the skills at home required to fill new high tech high value jobs Apple was creating and the politicians wanted. Hard stuff.

But then Silicon Valley geeks vote Democrat but they think and act like Republicans.

Barack Obama is so popular here in Europe that polls score regularly over 80% in his favour. So can the Apple President rise to the challenge from one of the greatest visionaries and value creators we've yet seen?

Using the social media phenomenon Twitter last night, he gives us a hint in a brief tweet after a long day, "four more years" @BarackObama.

Barack Obama Posted on November 8, 2012 9:33 AM |