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Business School Professors: Will Winner of November Election Matter?

To hear the two candidates tell it, the U.S. presidential election offers a dramatic choice on the economy: Vote for me, each says, if you want a robust recovery; pick my opponent, and we'll plunge back into recession.

But regardless of who wins, important economic factors will remain facts of life. Millions of American homeowners are "underwater," owing more than their homes are worth and weakening the consumer demand that is key to the economy. Employers, even if they are flush with money, won't hire more workers until they need them -- when demand rises or appears ready to.

The debt crisis in Europe resists a quick solution, and deficits and overhanging debt in the U.S. are too big to be whittled down very fast. These deficits will compete for federal revenue that could stimulate the economy through more spending or cuts in taxes.

Given the size of these problems, what is the most likely economic landscape to emerge after the election if President Barack Obama, a Democrat, wins, or if Republican challenger Mitt Romney wins?

Three faculty members at Wharton, the business school of The University of Pennsylvania, say that, either way, the future is likely to look much like the present, for several years at least. "The notion in the political debate is that if you just do something a little bit differently, things will get much better. But it doesn't work like that," says finance professor Franklin Allen.

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