Fitch hitches to the anti-austerity bandwagon

Credit ratings agency argues against affects of austerity.

Fitch Ratings are jumping on the anti-austerity bandwagon, it seems. Their new research is unambiguous about the extent to which stimulus helped the US:

Oxford Economics’ Global Economic Model (GEM) suggests that the U.S. policy response to the recession increased aggregate GDP by more than 4 per cent two and three years after the trough of the last crisis than otherwise would have been the case. These policies helped to support GDP growth of 3.0 per cent in 2010 and 1.7 per cent in 2011, implying that the U.S. might still be mired in a recession absent this stimulus.

If you like your bandwagon-jumping in visual form, they are happy to accommodate:

This is, of course, the same Fitch Ratings which wrote two months ago, as it put the UK on negative outlook, that one of the things which would trigger a downgrade would be:

Discretionary fiscal easing that resulted in government debt peaking later and higher than currently forecast.

So in March, discretionary fiscal easing is enough to downgrade a country; in May, it's found to have caused a 4 per cent boost to GDP. Those don't sound like consistent positions.

We asked Fitch whether this new research affected their recommendation for the UK, but they declined to comment.

Bargain hunters shop for discounted merchandise at Macy's on 'Black Friday' on November 25, 2011 in New York City. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Political video has come full circle in Obama and Clinton’s mockumentary-style films

Political campaign videos are increasingly mimicking the specific styles of filmmaking created to mock them.

This week, Hillary Clinton released a campaign video featuring Barack Obama, in an attempt to persuade her supporters to vote early. It revolved around Obama’s self-professed earliness. “I’m always early,” he tells us, cheerily. Aides chip in to explain this irritating habit, which becomes progressively more exaggerated, his approach to timing absurd. “You know how you beat LeBron James one-on-one? Get there 45 minutes early. Then it’s one-on-none.” A former staffer sighs. “You try telling the President of the United States there’s no such thing as a one-on-none.”

This is an instantly recognisable mockumentary style – deliberately shakey camerawork, complete with lots of zooming in and out, as absurd corporate behaviour is interspersed with incredulous talking heads and voiceover. It has its roots in the Office UK, taking the States by storm with The Office US, 30 Rock and Modern Family, and developing a political subgenre in The Thick of It, In the Loop and, most recently, Parks and Recreation. (Vague comparisons between Clinton and Poehler’s Leslie Knope abound.)

The content, too, seems familiar – a politician talks to camera about a personality quirk that is broadly a strength for someone in government, but exaggerates it to create a geeky, optimistic goofball, and a pretty likeable character. Take Leslie Knope on never smoking weed:

In terms of style and content, they’re fairly indistinguishable. And this not the only Clinton campaign video influenced by mockumentary and comedy tropes . In March, the Clinton campaigned released a “mean tweets” video with Senator Al Franken in the style of a Jimmy Kimmel Live talking head. Three days ago, a video campaign starring “Fake Lawyer” Josh Charles, an actor on The Good Wife, was released. It borrows heavily from mockumentary styles as well as self-mocking celebrity cameos in advertising. Even some non-comic videos, like this lighthearted one about Clinton’s granddaughter, have the exaggerated camerawork of the genre.

Of course, we can trace these campaign videos back to Obama again. His campaigns have always been heavily video based, and he’s taken the piss out of himself for Buzzfeed to promote campaigns. But the White House’s official channels are also in on the joke. In 2013, they released a mockumentary starring Steven Spielberg and 30 Rock’s Tracey Morgan, in which Obama plays Daniel Day Lewis playing Obama.

Earlier this year, the channel released another mini mockumentary, featuring Obama preparing for the end of his time as president. (The film even ridicules a less self-aware style of video – Obama posts a misjudged Snapchat about Obamacare, and asks “Did it get a lot of views at least?”)

A politician whose ideal evening consists of children’s movie marathons with colleagues? Where have we seen that before? Yes, political video has come full circle. Personally, I’m waiting on the Hillary Clinton break dancing clip

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.