Here's What The Election Winner Wins: Seven And A Half Things To Know

11/06/2012 07:59 am ET

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Thing One: Tell Him What He's Won: Well, this is finally it, folks, the day the 2012 election is taken to a field somewhere in Ohio and mercifully shot in the head. Unless tonight's election ends up in court, in which case it will continue to drag on and on and on.

But that way, that Bush-Gore-2000 way, lies madness, so let us pretend it is not going to happen, shall we? No, let's pretend instead that we're going to get a clear winner tonight, or by early tomorrow morning at the latest, and let's think about what kind of a mess that person is going to inherit. Right off the bat, the new president is going to have to deal with this fiscal-cliff nonsense, the Financial Times observes, with tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to start taking effect even before Inauguration Day. Yesterday a bunch of investors, including giant money manager BlackRock, begged in advertisements in several U.S. newspapers for the election's winner to avoid the fiscal cliff, which the Congressional Budget Office and others have warned could cause a new recession.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, is very concerned about what will happen with the U.S. debt. Something must be done about that by the next president, the WSJ insists on its front page -- with a lead-off quote by the renowned Sir Alan Greenspan, who solemnly declares that the debt is "an extraordinarily dangerous situation." You know what else is extraordinarily dangerous? Listening to anything this kook has to say about anything. This is the guy, let us recall, who did everything in his power to walk us into this fiscal morass, by pushing Congress to pass the Bush tax cuts. He also refused to regulate derivatives, which led to the financial crisis that we had to spend trillions more to help clean up. And he watched quietly as a housing bubble ballooned on his watch, another contributor to the mess we're in today. So, yeah, if Alan Greenspan insists we should do something, our default reaction should probably be to do the exact opposite.

The federal budget deficit is certainly an undesirable thing, but the biggest risk right now is to do too much about it immediately. For evidence of what can go horribly wrong, please see Europe, the next item on our Election-Winner Prize Showcase. The Washington Post points out that the next president is going to be leading a country that, for all of its problems, is the least-ugly dog in the ugly-dog show. Europe and Britain are a mess because of too much budget-tightening austerity. Japan is just a mess, forever. China, the world's growth engine, is a mystery, with an economy nobody here truly understands and a looming leadership transition.

But Matt Yglesias at Slate is on to the deep, dark secret of this election: The winner is probably going to inherit an economy on the rebound and end up looking like history's greatest economic genius. The economy will manage to grow nearly 10 million jobs in four years, even if we fall off the fiscal cliff, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Avoiding the fiscal cliff could get us 12 million jobs just as a matter of natural growth that's already in train -- one reason it's been easy for Mitt Romney to keep touting that number. As Romney told that crowd of rich donors in Boca, either he or Obama literally can get the economy to recover "without actually doing anything." They just have to not screw it up.

Thing Two: Sandy And What Comes After: The Northeast continued to struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, either the second- or sixth-most-destructive hurricane on record, with thousands of people struggling to make their way into school and work from the hinterlands of New York and New Jersey, as detailed by The New York Times. Tens of thousands are homeless, hundreds of thousands are still without power. Voting could well be a mess in the region. And, ugh, there's a Nor'easter heading this way, which could bring high winds, coastal flooding, a wintry mix of precipitation -- and more power outages, and more coastal evacuations, just a week after Sandy.

If there's any good news, it's that the weather models early this morning started to suggest the storm could move further out to sea, which would lessen the winds, flooding and rain. Let's hope it keeps going that way.

Thing Three: Wall Street Hopes Romney Will Let It Get Bigger Raises: You've probably heard by now that Wall Street has been investing heavily in trying to get Mitt Romney elected. It may or may not shock you, then, to find out that Wall Street overwhelmingly thinks Romney will be better for Wall Street pay than Obama in a second term, the Huffington Post notes, citing a recent survey by eFinancialCareers. Funny thing is, Wall Street pay has risen under Obama to its highest levels since before the crisis, so it continues to be difficult to understand why Wall Street gripes about him so much, aside from his occasionally calling them mean things, like "fat cats."

Thing Four: Defenestration At Morgan Stanley: Morgan Stanley, also known as the Jan Brady to Goldman Sachs's Marcia, took some steps to be a little less Jan-like yesterday, shoving the co-head of its sales and trading business, 30-year Morgan Stanley veteran Paul Taubman, out the window. That leaves Colm Kelleher alone in charge of the unit and ends years of infighting, DealBook observes. Profits ahoy, I guess!

Thing Five: Netflix Poisons Self To Save Self: Netflix, the struggling online video-rental company, swallowed a "poison pill" yesterday in order to make it harder for famous investor Carl Icahn to buy more of it. Icahn on Halloween announced he'd taken a 10 percent stake in the company and was looking to maybe buy more and flip it to a sucker, er, other investor. Netflix shares soared on the news. Netflix management, naturally, absolutely hates that and took the poison pill to dilute its shares and make it harder for Icahn to buy more.

Thing Six: Young People Expect To Work Until Death: Once upon a time, workers in this nation could reasonably hope to stop working at the age of 65 or so and spend the rest of their years fishing and collecting pension checks. Now that seems like an insane pipe dream. The young workers of today fully expect to work until they drop dead at their desks/cash registers/deep-fryers, the Washington Post writes. And not without reason.

Thing Seven: Greece On Low Boil: If it's November, that must mean it's time for another life-or-death vote in Greek parliament, to decide whether we will spend Thanksgiving feasting on turkey or rat carcasses. OK, maybe it's not that extreme. But there is an important vote coming up, tomorrow, about how much more austerity Greece can stand in order to get more bailout money. The Greeks themselves are voting with their feet, starting a 48-hour general strike today.

Thing Seven And One Half: Obama Gets A Split Decision In Hokey Voting Tradition: In what has for some reason become an election-day tradition in the U.S., the New Hampshire hamlets Dixville Notch and Hart's Location -- who named that town anyway? -- were the first Americans to cast their ballots for president just after midnight this morning. Dixville Notch was a tie, The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins writes, with 5 votes for Obama and 5 for Romney, compared with a 15-6 outcome for Obama in 2008. Why the low turnout, Dixville Notch? But Obama carried Hart's Location by 23-9, outperforming his 17-10 win in 2008. Go figure!

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