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/r/neoliberal elects the American Presidents - Part 54, Obama v McCain in 2008
(All strawpoll results counted as of the next post made)
Part 1, Adams v Jefferson in 1796 - Adams wins with 68% of the vote
Part 2, Adams v Jefferson in 1800 - Jefferson wins with 58% of the vote
Part 3, Jefferson v Pinckney in 1804 - Jefferson wins with 57% of the vote
Part 4, Madison v Pinckney (with George Clinton protest) in 1808 - Pinckney wins with 45% of the vote
Part 5, Madison v (DeWitt) Clinton in 1812 - Clinton wins with 80% of the vote
Part 6, Monroe v King in 1816 - Monroe wins with 51% of the vote
Part 7, Monroe and an Era of Meta Feelings in 1820 - Monroe wins with 100% of the vote
Part 8, Democratic-Republican Thunderdome in 1824 - Adams wins with 55% of the vote
Part 9, Adams v Jackson in 1828 - Adams wins with 94% of the vote
Part 10, Jackson v Clay (v Wirt) in 1832 - Clay wins with 53% of the vote
Part 11, Van Buren v The Whigs in 1836 - Whigs win with 87% of the vote, Webster elected
Part 12, Van Buren v Harrison in 1840 - Harrison wins with 90% of the vote
Part 13, Polk v Clay in 1844 - Polk wins with 59% of the vote
Part 14, Taylor v Cass in 1848 - Taylor wins with 44% of the vote (see special rules)
Part 15, Pierce v Scott in 1852 - Scott wins with 78% of the vote
Part 16, Buchanan v Frémont v Fillmore in 1856 - Frémont wins with 95% of the vote
Part 17, Peculiar Thunderdome in 1860 - Lincoln wins with 90% of the vote.
Part 18, Lincoln v McClellan in 1864 - Lincoln wins with 97% of the vote.
Part 19, Grant v Seymour in 1868 - Grant wins with 97% of the vote.
Part 20, Grant v Greeley in 1872 - Grant wins with 96% of the vote.
Part 21, Hayes v Tilden in 1876 - Hayes wins with 87% of the vote.
Part 22, Garfield v Hancock in 1880 - Garfield wins with 67% of the vote.
Part 23, Cleveland v Blaine in 1884 - Cleveland wins with 53% of the vote.
Part 24, Cleveland v Harrison in 1888 - Harrison wins with 64% of the vote.
Part 25, Cleveland v Harrison v Weaver in 1892 - Harrison wins with 57% of the vote
Part 26, McKinley v Bryan in 1896 - McKinley wins with 71% of the vote
Part 27, McKinley v Bryan in 1900 - Bryan wins with 55% of the vote
Part 28, Roosevelt v Parker in 1904 - Roosevelt wins with 71% of the vote
Part 29, Taft v Bryan in 1908 - Taft wins with 64% of the vote
Part 30, Taft v Wilson v Roosevelt in 1912 - Roosevelt wins with 81% of the vote
Part 31, Wilson v Hughes in 1916 - Hughes wins with 62% of the vote
Part 32, Harding v Cox in 1920 - Cox wins with 68% of the vote
Part 33, Coolidge v Davis v La Follette in 1924 - Davis wins with 47% of the vote
Part 34, Hoover v Smith in 1928 - Hoover wins with 50.2% of the vote
Part 35, Hoover v Roosevelt in 1932 - Roosevelt wins with 85% of the vote
Part 36, Landon v Roosevelt in 1936 - Roosevelt wins with 75% of the vote
Part 37, Willkie v Roosevelt in 1940 - Roosevelt wins with 56% of the vote
Part 38, Dewey v Roosevelt in 1944 - Dewey wins with 50.2% of the vote
Part 39, Dewey v Truman in 1948 - Truman wins with 65% of the vote
Part 40, Eisenhower v Stevenson in 1952 - Eisenhower wins with 69% of the vote
Part 41, Eisenhower v Stevenson in 1956 - Eisenhower wins with 60% of the vote
Part 42, Kennedy v Nixon in 1960 - Kennedy wins with 63% of the vote
Part 43, Johnson v Goldwater in 1964 - Johnson wins with 87% of the vote
Part 44, Nixon v Humphrey in 1968 - Humphrey wins with 60% of the vote
Part 45, Nixon v McGovern in 1972 - Nixon wins with 56% of the vote
Part 46, Carter v Ford in 1976 - Carter wins with 71% of the vote
Part 47 - Carter v Reagan v Anderson in 1980 - Carter wins with 44% of the vote
Part 48, Reagan v Mondale in 1984 - Mondale wins with 55% of the vote
Part 49, Bush v Dukakis in 1988 - Bush wins with 54% of the vote
Part 50, Bush v Clinton v Perot in 1992 - Clinton wins with 71% of the vote
Part 51, Clinton v Dole in 1996 - Clinton wins with 91% of the vote
Part 52, Bush v Gore in 2000 - Gore wins with 88% of the vote
Part 53, Bush v Kerry in 2004 - Kerry wins with 89% of the vote
This will be a fairly consistent weekly thing - every week, a new election, until we run out.
I highly encourage you - at least in terms of the vote you cast - to try to think from the perspective of the year the election was held, without knowing the future or how the next administration would go. I'm not going to be trying to enforce that, but feel free to remind fellow commenters of this distinction.
If you're really feeling hardcore, feel free to even speak in the present tense as if the election is truly upcoming!
Whether third and fourth candidates are considered "major" enough to include in the strawpoll will be largely at my discretion and depend on things like whether they were actually intending to run for President, and whether they wound up actually pulling in a meaningful amount of the popular vote and even electoral votes. I may also invoke special rules in how the results will be interpreted in certain elections to better approximate historical reality.
While I will always give some brief background info to spur the discussion, please don't hesitate to bring your own research and knowledge into the mix! There's no way I'll cover everything!
- John McCain is the 72-year-old Republican candidate and a US Senator from Arizona. His running mate is Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin.
- Barack Obama is the 47-year-old Democratic candidate and a US Senator from Illinois. His running mate is US Senator from Delaware Joe Biden.
- The United States and other countries are in the midst of what many are describing as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The crisis was largely triggered by a collapse in home prices, which in turn caused securities tied directly or indirectly to real estate to plummet in value. In September, major investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. A day later, the Federal Reserve bailed out and essentially took control of insurance giant AIG. Credit markets were on the brink of meltdown. In early October, Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which created an enormous government program to purchase "toxic assets" from banks and significantly increased the amount of insurance provided by the FDIC. Both McCain and Obama supported this rescue plan. Liquidity appears to have been restored, but the economic situation is still otherwise dire.
- Senator Obama has described the current crisis as a "final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down." Obama has spoken of the importance of oversight over the TARP $700 billion, of the possibility of getting that money back, of making sure none of that money is going to executive pay or executive severance packages, and of following up the package with help for homeowners.
- Senator McCain has said that what distinguishes him from Senator Obama on how he will lead the country out of the economic crisis is his commitment to get government spending under control. McCain has proposed a one-year spending freeze on "non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending." McCain has criticized Senator Obama for supporting "pork-barrel spending" in the past.
- The US occupation of Iraq continues. Last year, the Bush Administration oversaw a troop surge, and the conventional wisdom is that the situation has generally improved as a result. There are some indications that the security situation is improving and that the training of the new Iraqi military is working. That said, pressure on the US to withdraw has increased, as the Iraqi government has sought a withdrawal timetable and the US coalition partners have begun their own withdraw. Security responsibility for several provinces has already been transferred from US forces to Iraqi forces. However, earlier this year, General David Petraeus called for the delaying of troop withdrawals.
- Both candidates accuse the other of failures of judgement. Senator Obama has criticized McCain sharply for supporting invading Iraq in the first place, while Senator McCain has criticized Obama for not supporting the 2007 surge. On the latter point, in January 2007 Senator Obama's stance was:
The need to bring this war to an end is here. That is why today I am introducing the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007. This plan would not only place a cap on the number of troops in Iraq and stop the escalation: more importantly, it would begin a phased redeployment of United States forced with the goal of removing all United States combat forces from Iraq by March 31, 2008.
- Early this year, Democrats seized on a statement from Senator McCain in which he indicated that he would be comfortable with an American presence in Iraq for "maybe 100" years. He has stood by the comments, saying he was referring to a presence comparable to what the US has had in South Korea, Germany, and Japan.
- Under the Obama plan for Iraq, a phased withdrawal of most troops would begin which would likely remove the US troop presence by summer of 2010. A residual force would remain "to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel."
- Under the McCain plan for Iraq, the US would not leave Iraq "before Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated and before a competent, trained, and capable Iraqi security force is in place and operating effectively."
- Both candidates accuse the other of failures of judgement. Senator Obama has criticized McCain sharply for supporting invading Iraq in the first place, while Senator McCain has criticized Obama for not supporting the 2007 surge. On the latter point, in January 2007 Senator Obama's stance was:
- Sarah Palin has received a significant amount of both positive and negative attention relative to most VP nominees. Supporters praise her history as a reformer, her advocacy for families with special needs children, and her ability to energize parts of the Republican base. However, critics have raised questions about her knowledge of policy and her readiness to be President if it became necessary. Some in the media have expressed frustration at their limited access to Governor Palin. This scrutiny increased following a poorly received interview with Katie Couric which included the following exchanges:
COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?
PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land boundary that we have with Canada ... We have trade missions back and forth. We -- we do -- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where -- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to -- to our state.
COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?
PALIN: Well, let’s see. There’s, of course in the great history of America there have been rulings, that’s never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but …
COURIC: Can you think of any?
PALIN: Well, I could think of … any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But, you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a vice president, if I’m so privileged to serve, wouldn’t be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.
COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?
PALIN: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
COURIC: What, specifically?
PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.
COURIC: Can you name a few?
PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, “Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?”
- Health care reform has come up frequently on the campaign trail. Both candidates recognize a need to increase coverage and lower costs.
- The Obama plan includes requiring health insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, a tax credit to incentivize small businesses to provide health coverage, requirements on large employers to provide health coverage or otherwise contribute financially to their employee's health care, and "a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress."
- The McCain plan is to offer "a direct refundable tax credit ... of $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to offset the cost of insurance" and promote health savings accounts. McCain also seeks to make it easier to purchase health insurance across state lines.
- Attention has also been given to the candidate's differing tax plans.
- The Obama tax plan is to cut taxes for the middle class further than the Bush tax cuts did, while increasing taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans back to levels as they were in the 1990s. Senator Obama also seeks to implement a universal 10% mortgage interest tax credit, the elimination of income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 a year, and an expansion of the EITC.
- The McCain tax plan is to preserve all of the Bush tax cuts, phase out the Alternative Minimum Tax, cut the corporate tax rate to 25%, and establish a large R&D tax credit. Senator McCain also pledges to keep the Internet free of taxes.
- In October at a campaign stop, Senator Obama was confronted by Joe Wurzelbacher, who has since become known colloquially as "Joe the Plumber", with concerns that he would be taxed more if Senator Obama were to become President. More recently, Wurzelbacher has made joint appearances with John McCain on the campaign trail. The McCain campaign has in particular seized on Obama's comment to Joe that "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
- McCain, currently 72, would be the oldest first-term President if elected. McCain gave reporters an opportunity to review his full medical records, which showed that he is generally in good health and has relatively low risk of heart disease despite slightly elevated cholesterol and past issues with skin cancer.
- If elected, Senator Obama would be the first African-American President of the United States. Obama was born in Hawaii, the son of a Kenyan economist and an anthropologist from Kansas. While many find the possibility of the first African-American President inspiring, particularly when combined with the optimistic rhetoric of Senator Obama's campaign, his identity has also been related to unique challenges for him during the campaign. Members of his own party during the primary implied that his success in the race was mainly due to his race. Former VP nominee Geraldine Ferraro said:
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.Senator Biden, now Obama's running mate, said:
I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.In addition, Senator Obama has faced false rumors that he was born in Kenya and that he is not Christian. Some argue that the spread of these rumors is motivated partially or entirely by racism.
- Republicans have argued that Senator Obama is connected to problematic persons and organizations.
- Roughly 40 years ago, now-professor Bill Ayers was a leading member of the militant Weather Underground Organization, which conducted a bombing campaign of targeting government buildings and financial institutions. Ayers first met Barack Obama through a non-profit reform project's board of directors, and later hosted a small informal event where a departing State Senator introduced Obama as her chosen successor. Through each of their active involvements in Chicago events and initiatives, they would serve on a couple of the same boards and panels in the years afterwards. There is virtually no evidence to support some Republican claims that Ayers was some sort of political adviser to Obama, who has referred to Ayers as "somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8."
- Senator Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, has been the subject of controversy related to several sermon excerpts. The excerpts include claims that the government lied about its advance knowledge of Pearl Harbor, that the government lied about "inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color," and his comment that "America's chickens are coming home to roost," interpreted by some to be referring to the 9/11 attacks given the date of the sermon. President Obama addressed the issue in a broader speech on race in March of this year. Senator Obama stated:
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely—just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother—a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
- Pro-labor NGO ACORN has been accused by Republicans of orchestrating voter fraud, though further investigation has revealed this claim to be overstated at best. ACORN has hired people in the past to assist in voter registration, and sometimes these workers have come up with phony registrations - however, this issue seems to be motivated by laziness of individual workers rather than an attempt to conduct voter fraud. Obama served as a local counsel for ACORN in the 90s, and was endorsed by the ACORN political action committee during the primary. The Obama campaign also hired an ACORN affiliate for get-out-the-vote efforts during the primary.
- Representative John Lewis, a civil rights icon, has received blowback for comments he made regarding the tone of the McCain/Palin campaign. Lewis accused the campaign of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division," and brought up the example of George Wallace never throwing a bomb or firing a gun but creating "the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans." McCain called the comments "hurtful" and called on Senator Obama to repudiate the comments. The Obama campaign has said that the comparison made by Rep. Lewis was inappropriate.
- Senator McCain describes himself as a "free trader" and has criticized Senator Obama for opposing some free trade agreements. The Obama team has pledged to "use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important benchmarks." Senator Obama has also pledged to "fix" NAFTA.
(1) Obama on government spending:
John, it's been your president who you said you agreed with 90 percent of the time who presided over this increase in spending. This orgy of spending and enormous deficits you voted for almost all of his budgets. So to stand here and after eight years and say that you're going to lead on controlling spending and, you know, balancing our tax cuts so that they help middle class families when over the last eight years that hasn't happened I think just is, you know, kind of hard to swallow.(2) McCain on Iraq:
I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict. Our initial military success, we went in to Baghdad and everybody celebrated. And then the war was very badly mishandled. I went to Iraq in 2003 and came back and said, we've got to change this strategy. This strategy requires additional troops, it requires a fundamental change in strategy and I fought for it. And finally, we came up with a great general and a strategy that has succeeded.(3) Obama on meeting foreign adversaries "without precondition":
I reserve the right, as president of the United States to meet with anybody at a time and place of my choosing if I think it's going to keep America safe ... Now, understand what this means "without preconditions." It doesn't mean that you invite them over for tea one day. What it means is that we don't do what we've been doing, which is to say, "Until you agree to do exactly what we say, we won't have direct contacts with you."(4) McCain on Iran:
My reading of the threat from Iran is that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to other countries in the region because the other countries in the region will feel compelling requirement to acquire nuclear weapons as well.Vice-Presidential Debate (full transcript)
Now we cannot have a second Holocaust. Let's just make that very clear. What I have proposed for a long time, and I've had conversation with foreign leaders about forming a league of democracies, let's be clear and let's have some straight talk. The Russians are preventing significant action in the United Nations Security Council.
(1) Biden on what his administration would look like if a President Obama were to die in office:
God forbid that would ever happen, it would be a national tragedy of historic proportions if it were to happen.(2) Palin on what her administration would look like if a President McCain were to die in office:
But if it did, I would carry out Barack Obama's policy, his policies of reinstating the middle class, making sure they get a fair break, making sure they have access to affordable health insurance, making sure they get serious tax breaks, making sure we can help their children get to college, making sure there is an energy policy that leads us in the direction of not only toward independence and clean environment but an energy policy that creates 5 million new jobs, a foreign policy that ends this war in Iraq, a foreign policy that goes after the one mission the American public gave the president after 9/11, to get and capture or kill bin Laden and to eliminate al Qaeda. A policy that would in fact engage our allies in making sure that we knew we were acting on the same page and not dictating.
And heaven forbid, yes, that would ever happen, no matter how this ends up, that that would ever happen with either party.Second Presidential Debate (Town Hall) (full transcript)
As for disagreeing with John McCain and how our administration would work, what do you expect? A team of mavericks, of course we're not going to agree on 100 percent of everything. As we discuss ANWR there, at least we can agree to disagree on that one. I will keep pushing him on ANWR. I have so appreciated he has never asked me to check my opinions at the door and he wants a deliberative debate and healthy debate so we can make good policy.
What I would do also, if that were to ever happen, though, is to continue the good work he is so committed to of putting government back on the side of the people and get rid of the greed and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington.
(1) McCain on nuclear energy:
But we kept the debate going, and we kept this issue to -- to posing to Americans the danger that climate change opposes. Now, how -- what's -- what's the best way of fixing it? Nuclear power. Senator Obama says that it has to be safe or disposable or something like that. Look, I -- I was on Navy ships that had nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is safe, and it's clean, and it creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.(2) Obama on McCain's criticism that he's being reckless on foreign policy:
Senator McCain, this is the guy who sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of "speaking softly." This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, "Next up, Baghdad."(3) McCain on Russia:
I said before, watch Ukraine. Ukraine, right now, is in the sights of Vladimir Putin, those that want to reassemble the old Soviet Union. We've got to show moral support for Georgia.We've got to show moral support for Ukraine. We've got to advocate for their membership in NATO. We have to make the Russians understand that there are penalties for these this kind of behavior, this kind of naked aggression into Georgia, a tiny country and a tiny democracy.(4) Obama on spending priorities:
You know, you may have seen your health care premiums go up. We've got to reform health care to help you and your budget. We are going to have to deal with energy because we can't keep on borrowing from the Chinese and sending money to Saudi Arabia. We are mortgaging our children's future. We've got to have a different energy plan. We've got to invest in college affordability. So we're going to have to make some investments, but we've also got to make spending cuts. And what I've proposed, you'll hear Senator McCain say, well, he's proposing a whole bunch of new spending, but actually I'm cutting more than I'm spending so that it will be a net spending cut.Third Presidential Debate (full transcript)
(1) McCain on Obama's economic plans:
I don't think there's any doubt that Sen. Obama wants to restrict trade and he wants to raise taxes. And the last president of the United States that tried that was Herbert Hoover, and we went from a deep recession into a depression.(2) Obama on comments by Congressman Lewis:
I mean, look, if we want to talk about Congressman Lewis, who is an American hero, he, unprompted by my campaign, without my campaign's awareness, made a statement that he was troubled with what he was hearing at some of the rallies that your running mate was holding, in which all the Republican reports indicated were shouting, when my name came up, things like "terrorist" and "kill him," and that your running mate didn't mention, didn't stop, didn't say "Hold on a second, that's kind of out of line."(3) McCain on Obama's connections:
I don't care about an old washed-up terrorist [Bill Ayers]. But as Sen. Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship.(4) Obama on who he associates with:
We need to know the full extent of Sen. Obama's relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy. The same front outfit organization that your campaign gave $832,000 for "lighting and site selection." So all of these things need to be examined, of course.
Let me tell you who I associate with. On economic policy, I associate with Warren Buffett and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. If I'm interested in figuring out my foreign policy, I associate myself with my running mate, Joe Biden or with Dick Lugar, the Republican ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, or General Jim Jones, the former supreme allied commander of NATO.
Those are the people, Democrats and Republicans, who have shaped my ideas and who will be surrounding me in the White House. And I think the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me.
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Pandemic or Not, Visa Remains a Growth Stock Stalking Its Biggest Rival, Cash
You know about PayPal (ticker: PYPL) and maybe Square (SQ) and Venmo. How about Remitly, Stripe, Circle, and Bolt? There are dozens more with Seussian names. To skip out on a dinner check with under-30s, just mock the encryption protocol of their favorite fintech platform, and tell them you'll froop them ticklecoins.
I spoke this past week with Visa (V) chief Al Kelly about the competitive landscape in payments. That's a sensitive subject now, because Visa is trying to buy a company called Plaid, which serves as a data go-between for banks and apps. For example, Venmo uses Plaid. This month, the Department of Justice sued to block the deal, alleging that it would deprive consumers of a potential alternative to Visa. Kelly calls the deal pro-consumer and says Visa will fight the suit vigorously. "We feel very, very good about that," he says.
Visa was spawned from the first true credit card -- the paper, $300-limit BankAmericard, launched in 1958. Bank of America kept the credit business but licensed the financial plumbing for cards to other banks. This eventually became Visa, and a rival system launched in 1966 became Mastercard (MC). Today, Visa links 70 million sellers with 3.5 billion account credentials issued by 13,000 banks. It collects fees per transaction for authorization, clearing, and settlement, and it sells add-on services for things like detecting fraud and increasing customer loyalty.
This year, I've come to view paying in cash and receiving change as the financial equivalent of shaking hands during a bilateral sneeze. Giving over a credit card for swiping, or sliding my own and pawing a number pad, is more like an elbow bump -- better, but do we really have to? Tap-to-pay is the norm in most of the world, but not the U.S. -- yet. Kelly says it will be common here soon. If past patterns from other markets repeat, tap-to-pay will bring a big jump in the percentage of U.S. transactions done with cards.
Card adoption is already climbing -- to 82.1% of in-store transactions from 78.7% in January, according to industry researcher The NPD Group. But opportunities for spending have shriveled. So, during Visa's fiscal year ended in September, revenues decreased 5%, to $21.8 billion, and earnings per share fell 7%, to $5.04. Visa is larger than Mastercard and is particularly dominant in debit cards, but Mastercard has been growing faster, especially in Europe. Both have been smaller for years than China's UnionPay.
Analysts call these networks card rails, and the bank-controlled Automated Clearing House, or ACH, system for money transfers, bank rails. Many upstart players operate as digital wallets that depend in part on card or bank rails, or else use cryptocurrency. Kelly says the payments industry is filled with "frenemies." For example, PayPal, the best-known digital wallet for online purchases, used to steer customers to cheaper ACH rather than Visa cards. Now, under a partnership, Visa gets equal footing with ACH, and PayPal makes inroads at stores using Visa's contactless mobile-payment technology.
Stocks in general trade at elevated valuations now, and growth stocks especially. Even so, Visa's price of 38 times this fiscal year's estimated earnings suggests that investors feel confident about its future role in payments, and its return to speedy growth. This fiscal year, earnings-per-share growth is pegged at just 9%, as the pandemic continues and then hopefully lifts. Early estimates for next year's growth put it at 24%. Beyond the tap-to-pay rollout and spending rebound, Visa is hoping to win over push transactions that use bank rails -- like tuition, rent, and wages. Banks will have a say, but they make good money on card businesses, and ACH is a nonprofit.
China is a wild card. Visa doesn't have a license to operate there domestically, so it partners with local players like AliPay to create new uses for travelers' Visa cards. But phase one of the trade deal between China and the Trump administration is supposed to open China to foreign payment companies like Visa. We'll see. For now, Kelly calls cash his biggest competitor. I'm Purelling just thinking about all that market share up for grabs.
The stock market is said to be driven by the battle between greed and fear. Right now, it looks more like hope and stupidity. The vaccine results announced this past week by Pfizer (PFE) are the best hope yet that the pandemic's end is in sight. That vaccine and perhaps others could receive emergency-use authorization within the next two months, and much of America could receive needle pokes in the first half of next year. Life could look normal by Thanksgiving 2021.
But the virus is raging like never before. We've turned simple advice -- keep a bit of distance or wear masks -- into a culture war. And Washington is distracted. That President Donald Trump is denying clear election results is folly. That an overwhelming majority of his party's senators won't speak up is dangerous. If it doesn't damage our democracy, it could kill us by the tens of thousands this winter from inaction on the virus. And it could cripple our economy again.
"Sell the vaccine," wrote Bank of America in an investment strategy note on Friday. It means to reduce holdings of risky assets ahead of what could be a difficult stretch before the economy reopens in earnest. Like Goldman Sachs, BofA is recommending a barbell strategy, with cyclicals on one side, but not distressed ones, and the sort of virus-immune tech stocks that have been flourishing all along on the other.
I know; I dipped too far into politics there for a moment. Media bias, a few will say, and they're right. I don't endorse politicians or parties, but secretly, I'm in the tank for science and representative democracy.
Source: Barron's Article