The Economist held a live "Hangout" via Google+ at 12 p.m. EDT today, in which editors announced the London-based publication was endorsing President Barack Obama for a second term. Chris Lockwood, editor of the U.S. edition, was interviewed about the endorsement, fielding several questions from Economist readers as well.
Explaining the reasons behind the endorsement, Lockwood cited the stabilization of the U.S. economy. He said The Economist also approved of the Detroit auto industry bailout, the stimulus package, and the health care reform bill, although noted right off the bat that The Economist wasn't "immensely impressed" with Obama's first term. He said their default position was that Obama "handled the terrifying recession and the economy not too badly."
Lockwood said the recovering economy "very much put the onus on Mitt Romney" to identify how the challenger would be an improvement.
As for what The Economist disliked about Romney, Lockwood said that "you never know...which Mitt Romney you're going to get." That said, the editor applauded Romney for his "small government emphasis," agreed with the former governor that the deficit is "an immense problem," and hailed his stance on entitlements.
One notable economic issue Lockwood criticized Romney for was his stance on China. Romney has said he plans to label China a currency manipulator on day one of his presidency. Lockwood was skeptical that the Chinese currency was being manipulated, citing analysis from the IMF as well as China's "precipitously" declining trade surplus. He worried that a President Romney would initiate punitive tariffs on imports from China, instigating a "tit-for-tat trade war."
The Economist has a varied record on presidential endorsements. Since 1980, the publication has endorsed Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. Obama is the first in that period to have been endorsed twice.