World economy in danger as US stages election circus
My trip to New York was solely a familial affair.
I planned no business meetings, conferences or interviews. My only purpose was to celebrate my daughter's 40th birthday and spend time with my grandchildren, doing what grandparents usually do: watching my granddaughter ice-skating in Central Park, my grandson playing soccer in Queens and fetching them both from school, stopping in at Lenny's for a toasted bagel and cream cheese.
It was a particularly special time. To add to our joy, my two sons, one from Sydney and one from Johannesburg, turned up unexpectedly to join the festivities.
Most of my time was spent breakfasting, lunching and dining with family, catching up with everyone's news, yet I still tried to stick to a strict routine of reading my e-mails, keeping abreast of movements in world markets and following political developments at home and in the US.
New York doesn't necessarily offer a balanced view on the health of the broader US economy. The city bustles 24 hours a day, seven days a week, hastened by its lively population and an incessant flow of energetic visitors from Europe, Asia, the Americas and neighbouring states.
No matter the time of day, you are never first in the line at Starbucks, hit Broadway shows like Hamilton are booked out until October and you have to be prepared to crane your neck if you want to view the Degas exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
Nonetheless, analysts are closely monitoring the delegate-rich New York State primary on April 19 for further understanding of a political process that has baffled the establishment in both the Democrat and Republican parties.
For outsiders, like me, it's difficult to comprehend that, at a time when horrid acts of terrorism are threatening world peace and low economic growth is undermining global prosperity, a country that produced statesmen such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr, will be obliged to choose either Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton as its next commander-in-chief.
My bewilderment has been strengthened by the ongoing feud between the two Republican candidates, Trump and Cruz, who, rather than debating policy issues or law-making competency, have taken to insulting each other's wives, igniting the ire and indignation of women's organisations.
An anti-Trump group published a nude picture of his wife from her modelling days, while Trump responded by circulating unflattering profiles of Cruz's wife, Heidi, accusing her, too, of working her entire career against everything that Cruz currently stands for. Cruz has also blamed Trump for a headline story in the tabloid press claiming he cheated on his wife.
Trump refers to his opponent as "lying Ted"; Cruz, on the other hand, asserts Trump is an ingrained New York liberal with a giant ego and lavish spending habits, who does not represent Republican views - in particular on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
The bitter rivalry has exposed innate problems within the Republican Party, the upshot of policy positions designed to obstruct President Obama rather than work for the good of America. Many Republicans will not have the stomach to openly support the vile and ghastly Trump and so, will most likely underpin the election of Hillary Clinton as the first female president of the US.