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from India Insight:

Facts and figures for India’s 2014 general election

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Voting in the 2014 election begins on April 7. More than 814 million people -- a number larger than the population of Europe -- will be eligible to vote in the world's biggest democratic exercise.

Voting will be held in 10 stages, which will be staggered until May 12, and results are due to be announced on May 16. Elections to state assemblies in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously.

Around 930,000 polling stations will be set up for the month-long election using electronic voting machines, first introduced in 2004.

Uttar Pradesh has the most eligible voters (134 million); Sikkim the lowest (about 362,000). Male voters constitute 52.4 percent of the electorate but women voters outnumber men in eight regions -- Puducherry, Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram, Daman & Diu, Meghalaya, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh.

from The Great Debate:

Obama: Ineffectually Challenged

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President Barack Obama is in a funk. Americans are coming to see the president as ineffectual. That is a dangerous perception.

Obama's job approval rating is at risk of dropping below 40 percent. Democrats may lose their majority in the Senate this fall. It may be difficult for the president to accomplish anything during his last two years.

from MacroScope:

Shock now clearly trumps transparency in central bank policymaking

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The days of guided monetary policy, telegraphed by central banks and priced in by markets in advance, are probably coming to an end if recent decisions around the world are any guide.

From Turkey, which hiked its overnight lending rate by an astonishing 425 basis points in an emergency meeting on Tuesday, to India which delivered a surprise repo rate hike a day earlier, central banks are increasingly looking to "shock and awe" markets into submission with their policy decisions.

from MacroScope:

Housing boom and bust lesson still not sinking in

Housing markets are booming again in parts of the U.S. and Britain and they haven’t stopped doing so in Canada for the better part of a generation.

What is most striking about the latest round, at least when you listen to those who ought to know, is how nothing much except the price has changed.

from MacroScope:

Another backhand volley from forward guidance

Forward guidance is quickly proving to be rather backward.

While it's a favourite game of every punter who's not paid to make predictions to trash the track record of those who are, just about everyone who follows the European Central Bank was stunned by the timing of its decision to cut rates on Thursday.

In the days beforehand, a handful of forecasters began speculating after news of a collapse in inflation that the ECB might fire what could be their last shot on standard monetary policy using interest rates in a long time.

from MacroScope:

Olé! Getting to grips with the stock market bulls


The stock market bulls were out in force again in the latest Reuters poll of equity analysts and investors, conducted this week.

Taking the consensus at face value, further gains for stock markets look a sure-fire bet. However, their forecasts ought to be taken with a dose of common sense and a basic grasp of how the past has panned out.

from Tales from the Trail:

Married v. unmarried could be the new election “gender gap”

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Despite the American obsession with voting differences between men and women - the famed U.S. election "gender gap" - there is a far bigger "gap" dividing likely voters in 2012 - the yawning divide between marrieds and unmarrieds.

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters who are unmarried support Democratic President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 general election, including those who have never been married, live with a partner or are widowed, divorced or separated.

from Tales from the Trail:

Foreign policy issues rank low among voter priorities

Hype for the third and final presidential debate tonight has been considerably less than for the two previous face-offs -- perhaps for good reason. The debate is focused on foreign policy, and Americans don’t seem to care that much about it.

“War/foreign conflicts” and “terrorism/terrorist attacks” tied for a spot near the bottom of a list of issues from which respondents were asked to identify the most important, in Reuters/Ipsos polls conducted since January. Only 2 percent of likely voters saw each of those two as issues of top importance.

from The Great Debate:

What women want is political key

No matter how artificial and canned the candidates can seem at a presidential debate, no matter how competent or ineffectual the moderator -- the nominee’s true self will peak out at some point.

Thus did GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney tip his hand when it comes to the all-important female vote -- which both he and President Barack Obama have been scrambling after. He didn’t make a huge gaffe or get ensnared in a tough debate about choice. Moving around the stage, he seemed a 1950s throwback who had wandered in from a different decade -- one where men were men, women wore shirtwaist dresses (Ann Romney’s uniform) and marriage was between a man and a woman.

from Tales from the Trail:

Vice presidential candidates by the numbers

The vice presidential candidates who will take the stage for a debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky this week are just as polarizing as their running mates, according to Reuters/Ipsos polls. “Very unfavorable” was the most commonly held view of both men.

According to data collected last week, Vice President Joe Biden is seen “very unfavorably” by 22 percent of respondents, in line with President Barack Obama’s “very unfavorable” score of 27 percent.

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