THE outcome of the US Presidential election is being watched with anxiety all over the world. The issues around which the election is being fought are so vital for Americans that they are expected to surge to polling places in record numbers. The most crucial issue faced by them is that of the economy. With the housing bubble bursting, thousands of house owners are facing foreclosures. Thousands of lucrative jobs have gone abroad in the last few years, while the financial crisis has further added to unemployment. Spending has consequently gone down, with a negative effect on business and production industry and the loss of more jobs. There are fears of a recession. American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the largest after the Vietnam war, continue to mount. President Bush's War on Terror has entered its seventh year amid widespread pessimism that it can ever be won through military means alone. The Al-Qaeda top leadership is still at large and terrorists are vowing death to more Americans. To top it all, immigrants are pouring in illegally in large numbers, taking away jobs from the local population and changing the American way of life. Many think the country faces the worst crisis of confidence in its institutions since the Great Depression. There is a widespread desire for fixing the things through a shift, of course. Most Americans expect a period of reforms, regardless of who is elected. Many believe Mr Obama is the man who can turn their country round. As the US has assumed the role of world policeman, there is naturally a widespread interest in the outcome of the elections all over the world. There are hopes that the new President would discard the neo-conservative policies practised under President Bush, his highly dangerous advocacy of pre-emptive strikes, branding of countries as an axis of evil, the threats of use of force and a unilateralist approach that led to attack on Iraq despite opposition from European allies and the world at large. Many expect him to review President Bush's policy on the War on Terror, which places total reliance on the use of force, and resolve the issue of extremism and terrorism through a holistic approach that gives primacy to talks with the militants and an emphasis on social development. There is also a need to resolve the grievances in the Muslim world caused by the occupation of Palestine and Kashmir. Mr Obama's observation that the US should help resolve the Kashmir issue has inspired hopes. One expects the new administration to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and either put the inmates on trial in normal courts or release them. Whether the new President will come up to the expectations will become clear once he is in the saddle. The world will therefore have to wait for a few more months.