Was there ever any doubt? Barack Obama sailed through an historic day in US election history as he and the Democratic Party swept past the Republican challenge. At the time of writing, the Democrats had collected 349 Electoral votes to the Republicans' 162, taking them far beyond the 270 vote margin needed to ensure victory. Victory was announced at 4.00am GMT as Obama officially passed through the barrier with results in the west Coast states California, Washington and Oregon coming in, though there had never really been any contention over Obama winning these states - the crucial victories had already taken place.
By this time, Obama had already put pay to Republican hopes that McCain might take one or all of the hotly contested 'battleground states' from Obama's grasp - these being New Hampshire, Ohio and New Mexico. Other key victories in Florida and Pennsylvania were to follow.
The popular vote, i.e. the actual proportion of the electorate voting for either candidate rather than the states they represent, was much closer with the Democrats leading the Republicans by 52.7 per cent to 46 per cent at the time of writing.
It is the electoral vote, however, that matters. America's use of this system rather than representative voting has now ensured Obama will enter office on a wave of confidence and recognition from both parties that he has been able to unite voters in one of the most one-sided victories (at least on paper) for several decades. The Democrats now hold a considerable majority in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, giving them room to act upon Obama's much cited promises of 'change' and to push through much needed reforms.
With Obama on board in Washington, however, does the world look any different today? One of Obama's first challenges will be to restructure the US's foreign policy. In particular, he has pledged to scale down military operations in Iraq and deploy more troops to Afghanistan. It is on his handling of the economy, however, that the new President will really be measured. He has assumed office on the back of this topic above anything else with 6 out of 10 Americans polled citing this as the most pressing issue in their minds when deciding who to vote for. The popularity Obama has gained from his youth and race is all very well but it will count for little if he is not able to successfully manage what is shaping up to be one of the most severe economic climates in the modern era. Confidence is up - keep an eye on the Dow Jones index today as it undoubtedly soars on the back of a general feel good factor - but this can't mask the reality of the situation. Obama and his advisors will have to act fast to reverse the economic decline of the past few months.
What happens now? The best case scenario for you and your job
1. Barack Obama is elected as 44th President of the United States.
Meanwhile, the Democrats enjoy majorities in the both the lower and upper chambers of Congress - the Senate and the House of Representatives. Obama and his party have the mandate to make sweeping changes to all aspects of US government policy at home and abroad and set about a bold programme of legislation and reform
2. The mood of the world improves.
Can words make a difference? You bet they can. The good looks and smooth words of Obama, and not least his multi-racial origin, represents a zeitgeist of change and the opportunity to reset the clock on a host of the outgoing Republican / Bush administration disasters - from Iraq, relations with Iran, the swelling of the US fiscal and trade deficits, non-existent engagement with policies to stem climate change etc. Obama can make a fresh start in all these areas
3. Security fears abate.
Racial wounds are healed across America. Obama's mollifying language gives renewed impetus to the Middle East Process. Meanwhile in Iran hardline President Ahmadinejad is forced to retire due to ill-health and is and is replaced by more progressive elements less hostile to rapprochement with the West. Talks ensue between the US and Iran and a new peace accord in signed. Iran agrees to the bound by the terms of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and will not manufacturer its own fissile material or produce a nuclear bomb. Iran recognises Israel's right to exist and signs a peace accord. Civilian life continues to improve in Iraq so troops are transferred to Afghanistan where the Taliban is finally defeated in granting a safe haven to Al Qaida. Finally, Obama pours massive aid into Pakistan, stabilising it in the nick of time
4. Israel creates an independent Palestine.
The Middle East Peace Process concludes with the creation of an independent state of Palestine, removing the cause of Anti-Israeli hatred in the region. Terrorism recedes as a consequence
5. The US addresses its fiscal deficit.
Obama announces measures to reduce the US budget deficit with a return to sound money principles. A large package of tax cuts is unveiled at the same time as cuts in government expenditure put the budget back on a firmer footing
6. Inflation falls / China devalues its currency.
The oil price returns to a stable level of $75 / barrel. Food prices also fall also. China bows to international pressure to reduce the value of the Renminbi which means its exports and the imports of the West are cheaper. As a result, inflation falls to an all-time low. This creates the conditions for cuts in global interest rates and in the US, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cuts the Fed Funds rate to just 1%
7. The Bank of England cuts its base rate to 2.5%.
LIBOR, being the rate at which the banks lend to each other, follows suit. Rates for two year and five swaps follow them down too. Lending between banks and between banks and private citizens returns to normal. Consumer demand and business activity pick up. The value of shares and houses begin to rise again. Because of low interest rates, the value of Sterling falls against the dollar and the euro, making our exports competitive and reducing demand for imports. This gives a boost to our balance of trade and to our manufacturing industry
8. The Conservatives replace Labour as the government.
Gordon Brown calls a snap election in the spring on 2009 in an attempt to capitalise on his work rescuing the British banking system. However, the electorate is not fooled and recognises it was Brown that got us into this mess in the first place. The Conservatives are returned with a majority of over 100, led by David Cameron. Cameron enjoys a similar reception to Obama. He immediately signals his intention to reverse years of Labour profligacy by announcing a twin programme of dramatic cuts in public expenditure and taxation. This return to sound monetarist principles restores confidence in public finances and allows individuals to make spending decisions, rather than civil servants.
Cameron also announces a complete scale back of all the red tape that has choked business for the last 10 years. Cameron announces that the UK will not be bound by some of the crazy red tape emanating from Brussels
9. Business confidence returns to the UK.
Houses are affordable to first-time buyers again thanks to falls of over 35% during the past two years and the lowest ever mortgage rates. A feel good factor returns to UK business and to the multi-nationals based in the UK. As Cameron cuts rates of corporation tax and reduces business red tape, more international businesses than ever before choose to base themselves in the UK, boosting employment
10. Pick-up in graduate recruitment.
With confidence returned, City employers such as investment banks and management consultancies see increased demand from businesses for their services and with depleated work forces they embark on agressive hiring policies to fill the gaps. Increased business activity filters down into all levels of the economy with the legal, advertising and media sector also topping up their graduate intakes to pre-2008 levels.