Written by: Katerina Kaganovich, Bergen County Technical High School (NJ)
The Office of the President of the United States is often associated with the unofficial titles of “Chief Diplomat” and “Chief Economist”. By the nature of their position, the President of the United States is one of the most visible members of the United States government and is often looked at for leadership on issues regarding the economy.According to Professor Dan B. Wood and his associates Chris T. Owens and Brandy M. Durham of Texas A&M University, the people of the United States expect the government, and especially the president, to monitor the economy and promote economic growth. A major fixture of economic activity is international commerce and trade. In that regard, the president has the power to formulate trade agreements and conduct negotiations with other countries on behalf of the United States. Through the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934, the president has the power to set tariffs and negotiate trade agreements with foreign states.The United States is robustly linked to the global economy with foreign trade equivalent to 25% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1992. According to Stephen W. Bosworth, President of the United States-Japan Foundation and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and Tunisia, seven million jobs are created thanks to American exports globally.As a result, the president is a major player in the economic foreign policy of the United States. In combination with the expectation that the president has responsibility
Growing Influence of East Asia
The world and international relations has been rapidly changing over the past thirty years. The 1990s brought a great deal of change to the world, especially East Asia, due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. East Asia fell at the crossroads between the United States and the Soviet Union, offering developing markets in East Asian countries access to the United States in exchange for a security alliance. Called the “San Francisco Peace Treaty”, this 1951 bilateral alliance allowed the United States to station troops in Japan, South Korea, Philippines, South Vietnam, and Guam, part of their “hub-and-spokes” plan to contain the spread of the Soviet Union.Ultimately, after the fall of the Soviet Union, American interests grew to favor economy policy. In reference to East Asian countries, Bernard K. Gordon, Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire, states that a fifth of the global export market in 2003 was controlled by countries who had little to no international significance a century earlier.In the 1960s, Asian economies produced less than 5% of the world’s output, but by the 1990s their share of the world’s Gross National Product (GNP) had grown to over 25%.In that same time period, the region’s share of global trade with the United States rose from 7.1% to 10.5%. By 1990, East Asia’s trade with North America and Western Europe was greater than the two with each other.Two nations dominated the East Asian economy: China and Japan. Historically, these two nations have been at the forefront of economic development and change in the region. Bosworth claims that China and Japan, above all other nations in East Asia, have the greatest capacity to potentially affect the rest of the world—including the United States.Individually, both nations have seen great rates of growth within their own economies. He concluded that China’s projected growth over the next decade, from 2003 onwards, has the potential to exert great influence in the region and the United States. Japan as well has enormous power in the region which has continuously grown in the 20th century, causing tensions with the United States stemming from Americans facing barriers in accessing Japanese markets.As the two major economic powers in East Asia, China and Japan will be the focus of my research.
Presidential signaling refers to speeches or remarks made by presidents meant to influence people to act on what the president has said.Debate has risen over whether a president’s rhetoric—what he says in speeches, debates, State of the Union addresses, among others—can create change in the country. A number of hypotheses concerning the nature of presidential effects on the economy have been advanced by various authors. A review of the literature illustrates that while researchers agree thon connections between the president’s comments to the confidence and actions of the people, Congress, and the media, there is disagreement to the extent to which rhetoric reflects implementation. Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, professor of political science at North Texas University, who states that presidential rhetoric affects the movement and fluctuations of the economic market to a certain extent. This study analyzed the president’s effects on the daily price of oil, the daily yield on the thirty-year Treasury bill, and monthly measures of the money. Eshbaugh-Soha concludes that signaling effects occur in the short term, and the further the time from the initial act goes the less affect the president has, such as in the case when the market must wait for Congress to pass the president’s legislation.In other research conducted by Eshbaugh-Soha alongside his colleague, Jeffrey S. Peake, a professor at Clemson University, they analyze the connection between what the president says about the economy and its effects on Congress and the media towards that issue. Based on their study of presidential rhetoric on health care, education, and crime, Eshbaugh-Soha and Peake come to the conclusion that presidents typically do not influence the attention given by the media or Congress to domestic economic issues. However, the researchers also concluded that presidents do increase Congressional and media attention to international economic issues. Unlike Eshbaugh-Soha’s research on domestic economic issues, international issues are more likely to be brought to the foreground when advocated for or against by the President of the United States.
Researchers have raised questions about the how the perceived positive or negative view that the president has towards the state of the economy affects economic performance. Research conducted by Wood, Owens, and Durham directly contrast with that of Eshbaugh-Soha and Peake. They analyze the correlation between presidential rhetoric on the economy to actual economic progress in the county, such as macroeconomic performance of the United States, news being perceived by consumers, and consumer confidence. The researchers found that presidential rhetoric does impact the overall confidence levels of the public: when the president states something positive, there is an increase in the perception that the economy is showing stronger growth and may produce lower unemployment This demonstrates that “more than for any other economic actor, remarks flowing from the presidency command the attention of the media and consumers.” 
An aspect of the theory of presidential signaling is whether the president can affect foreign policy. While there is dispute over whether presidential signaling can affect the domestic economy, little research has been done to analyze the effects of the president on foreign affairs, and by that extension economic foreign policy. Some of the only literature on how the president affects foreign policy comes in the form of research done by Lydia Andrade and Garry Young, Professor of Government and International Affairs at the University of The Incarnate Word and Associate Research Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC, respectively. They discuss the reasons for how presidential foreign policy changes and what variables affect it. The conclusion they come to is that national approval ratings are the reason for increase in presidential focus on foreign policy, while approval from one’s political party decreases emphasis on foreign policy, after analyzing the frequency of policy themes in presidential speeches.In the same vein, research conducted by Peake aiming to discusses whether the president can affect Congress and the media on topics of foreign policy, states that the president is able to substantially influence Congress and the media on topics of foreign affairs, however it varies based on how “salient” or important the topic is at the time and the president.This demonstrates that while there is literature that analyze the president’s effect on the “economy” and “foreign affairs” as two distinctively different topics, there is no research done to analyze the effect of the president’s sentiments on trade or economic foreign policy exclusively.
Literature has shown that there are bodies of work that identify the debate of the effect the president’s rhetoric, or presidential signaling, has on the economy and foreign affairs separately. However, there is no work that explores whether what the president says about trade or economic foreign affairs actually influences the economic relations between those countries. I intend to look at what the president says about trade with East Asia, a major economic partner, and see how that impacted imports and exports between China, Japan, and the United States during presidential debates between 1992 and 2000. In 1992, incumbent Republican President George H. W. Bush, Democrat Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and independent Texas businessman Ross Perot ran for president. The winner of this election was Bill Clinton. In 1996, then incumbent president Bill Clinton ran against the former U.S. Senator from Kansas Bob Dole. Therefore, for both debates, I will be looking at what Bill Clinton said because his administration was in power during the 1992-2000 time period. This research will connect presidential rhetoric and economic foreign policy to track whether what the president says affects the import and export patterns for their term.
In order to examine if the president’s rhetoric affects the imports/exports to China and Japan from 1992-2000, I will be using a conventional content analysis on presidential debates and then comparing the data through a Chi-Square Test for Independence. In order to gauge what the president says, I will be using the transcripts from presidential debates of the years 1992 and 1996. The presidential candidate who won in both elections was President Bill Clinton. The purpose of using what candidate Bill Clinton said exclusively is because I intend to look if what the president says affects foreign policy and trade between 1992 and 2000, and he won both elections. The idea that presidents adhere to what is said during their presidential debates is discussed by Michael G. Krukones, Associate Professor of Political Science at Bellarmine College. Krukones gathers his information through media statements on policy proposals and compares it to statements on policy proposals and the actual policies that were put into place by the presidential administration. He comes to the conclusion that presidents give the electorate an “indication of the direction of their administrations,” during their campaigns.What the president claims to do during the campaign gives the voters the impression that the president will enforce what he promises. Similar thoughts are expressed in a 2006 article describing the impact of economic and foreign policy on presidential approval written by professor at the University of North Carolina, Gregory E. McAvoy. He explains how elections are won and lost based on economic performance, and the public keeps economic policy at the forefront of their minds.The platform for candidates to present their ideological views are, especially after the advent of television, presidential debates. McAvoy describes how the public consistently rewards and punishes presidents for economic performance.Therefore, I will be analyzing the transcript of the 1992 and 1996 presidential debates provided by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). The CPD sponsors and produces quadrennial presidential debates and sponsored all presidential debates in 1992 and 1996.
I will be looking at all sentences in which the words “China”, “Japan”, “Chinese”, and “Japanese” are stated to analyze the 1992 and 1996 presidential debates in relation to China and Japan. I chose to use these codes because they are the clearest way to identify sentiments about China and Japan. However, in order to establish context to what the president is saying when he uses the codes, I will be also analyzing the sentence before and after. My purpose of doing this is to look at the overall sentiment that President Clinton has towards China and Japan. This form of analysis –content analysis – was used by Jeff Yates and Andrew Whitford, professors at Binghamton University and the University of Georgia, respectively, in their article “Institutional Foundations of the President’s Issue Agenda.” The researchers used a content analysis to look at instances of criminal justice in the president’s State of the Union address.A content analysis was also used by David M. Rankin, associate professor of political science at the State University of New York, Fredonia, in order to analyze 1,310 U.S. trade stories for the years 1988-2002 from three major television networks and CNN Headline News. He primed for US-Japan trade, US-China trade, North American Trade, the trade deficit, trade summits, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and trade protests. Similar to my research they intended to look for ideas that the president talks about. My content analysis phase will be looking for words “China”, “Japan”, “Chinese”, and “Japanese”. The purpose of doing a content analysis versus other ways of looking at text is because it allows me to look for key concepts in an overall body of information. By separating these words and then looking at the sentiment around them, I would be able to separate ideas regarding China and Japan from other policies mentioned during presidential debates.
The second phase of my research is to look at the polarity—the positive or negative sentiment – of what the president says towards China and Japan. To demonstrate this, I will run each sentence with the words “China”, “Japan”, “Chinese”, or “Japanese” through the Twin Word Sentiment Analysis AI Software. Twin Word is a company that develops software to analyze text and communication for a variety of businesses. This program looks at the tone of a sentence or paragraph and indicates whether the polarity of the statement is positive, negative, or neutral. I will be taking the statement when the Bill Clinton mentions “China,” “Japan,” “Chinese,” and “Japanese,” as well as the sentence before and after it to maintain context. The polarity demonstrates if the president had a more positive or negative outlook toward trade in East Asia. Since what the president says has an impact on legislation and policy during his term, I intend to see whether imports and exports to the East Asian countries of China and Japan grew or fell based on what the president’s attitudes were toward the region. I will be gathering information on imports and exports from the United States Census Bureau which records the exports and imports of goods (in USD) with China and Japan. I will begin looking at the import and export data from 1993 and 1997 respectfully because that is the January following the election rather than looking at the year of the election since they happen in November at the close of the year. Furthermore, I will run import/export values through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation Calculator in order to adjust for inflation because a comparison of the value of money in 1992 and 2000 would not be accurate since the value of the dollar evolves over time. The CPI is updated every month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
My method of comparison will be through a Chi-Square Test for Independence. The purpose of using a Chi-Square Test for Independence is to determine if there is an association between what the polarity of the president’s speech on China and Japan and if there was growth in imports and exports. I will be doing two, two by two chi-square tests with the two columns representing the polarity being “positive and negative” and the two columns representing net imports and exports from China or Japan respectively. This will demonstrate if there is any connection between the polarity of the presidential debates and imports and exports to the target country.
As a means to see whether what the president says during presidential debates affects imports and exports, I looked at both the polarity of what President Clinton said during presidential debates about China and
To test for the polarity of the president’s speech, I looked at what President Clinton said during the 1992 and 1996 Presidential Debates. Although there were three presidential debates in 1992 and two presidential debates in 1996, the analysis was looked at as an election cycle. There were seven mentions of “China” or “Chinese” in the 1992 debate and four mentions of “Japan” or “Japanese.” In 1996, there was one mention of “China” or “Chinese” and seven mention of “Japan” or “Japanese.” I then took the sentence with the key word and the sentence before and after and ran it through a sentiment analysis program, to determine the polarity of the phrase. The results can be seen in Table 1.
Polarity of Presidential Rhetoric in the 1992 and 1996 Presidential Elections on China and Japan
Positive polarity demonstrates that what President Clinton was mostly positive, negative polarity demonstrates that what the president says was overall negative, and neutral polarity demonstrates that there was no distinct feeling noted in the analysis. In the 1992 election debate, the words “China” or “Chinese” were mentioned two times with a positive polarity, three times with a negative polarity, and twice neutrally, compared to in 1996 when it was mentioned once with a positive polarity. In the case of Japan, the polarity was positive twice and neutral twice in 1992. However, in 1996, the polarity was quite dispersed with two instances being positive, three being negative, and two being neutral. Over the course of the two debates, President Clinton did not give a clear direction to whether his message was positive or negative towards China or Japan. As seen by the polarity in both the 1992 and 1996 debates, there were examples of negative, positive, or neutral combinations in three out of the four cases tested. Furthermore, the overall polarity shifted for both countries over the two terms. China was primarily negative in the 1992 election but changed to primarily positive in the 1996 election. Similarly, for the Japan codes, the polarity was primarily positive in the 1992 debate and then changed to primarily negative in the 1996 debate. I will be analyzing the connection between imports and exports and the polarity of the president’s speech in the time period in which this shift occurred.
Imports and Exports
To look at imports and exports coming from and to the United States between China and Japan, I looked at the data provided by the United States Department of Commerce and the United States Census Bureau. The data was then adjusted for inflation through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Inflation Calculator. This data can be seen in Table 2 and Graph 1 for China and Table 3 and Graph 2 for Japan.
TABLE 2 and GRAPH 1
Exports and Imports from China to the United States Adjusted to January 2019
|Exports(millions USD)||Imports(millions USD)||Exports Adjusted (millions USD)||Imports Adjusted (millions USD)|
Note: Imports and Exports are measured in millions of United States dollars.
Chinese imports steadily increased except for a sharp decline between 1993 and 1994, one year into President Clinton’s first term as president of the United States. In terms of exports, increases were observed unilaterally—with the exception of 1995-1996 (the year of the 1996 presidential election). Another decline was seen in the year between 1998-1999, a year before the 2000 presidential election. Overall out of the eight years analyzed in this study, one instance of import and two instances of export decline were observed.
TABLE 3 and GRAPH 2
Exports and Imports from Japan to the United States Adjusted to January 2019
|Exports||Imports||Exports Adjusted (millions USD)||Imports Adjusted (millions USD)|
Note: Imports and Exports are measured in millions of United States dollars.
As seen by the value of exports and imports coming to and from Japan, trade was more established with Japan than with China. Initial comparisons in 1992 indicate that the United States imported around $177.5 billion from Japan as compared to $46.9 billion from China. Imports to a Japan increased consistently from 1992-1995 with a decrease in the 1995-1996 fiscal year. Another dip can be seen in 1997-1998, the year of the 1998 midterm elections. In the export data, a decrease can be seen the year of the 1992 election, between 1992-1993. Similarly, the three years following the 1996 election exports can be seen to consistently decrease until they finally increased between 1999-2000.
Presidential Rhetoric and the Economy
As a way to determine if there is an association between the polarity of the president’s rhetoric and imports and exports from China and Japan, I used a Chi-Square Test for Independence. The rows symbolized the years in which the president displayed positive or negative sentiment. Neutral sentiment was not used in the Chi-Square Test because there were no instances in which the amount of imports or exports stayed the same. Since the content analysis indicated that the president shifted polarity over the course of his two terms, that was a way in which I was able to track the correlation between if what the president said during that debate affected the net import or net exports in the years following. The data for net imports and net exports was calculated by taking the difference between the export or import value of the last year of the term from the first year of the term. The first year of the term was 1993 and 1997, because presidential debates are in the November of 1992 and 1996 and that is not enough time to observe economic change. The null hypothesis that is being tested is that there is no association between the overall sentiment displayed by a president during a presidential debate about either China or Japan and the trade, in terms of imports and exports, with that country.
Chi-Square Test for Independence for Japanese Imports and Exports
Note: Net imports and exports are calculated in millions of USD.
The Chi-Square Test for Independence for Japan indicated that there is a statistical significance and that there is an association between the polarity of the president’s speech and the imports and exports from that country. The p-value, or the chance that this data can be replicated by chance, is zero, meaning that there is a very low chance that this result can be created randomly. Therefore, there appears to be an association between the overall sentiment of the president during a presidential debate about Japan and the imports and exports with Japan.
Chi-Square Test for Independence for Chinese Imports and Exports
Note: Net imports and exports are calculated in millions of USD.
The Chi-Square Test for Independence for China also indicated that there is a statistical significance that there is a strong positive correlation between the polarity of the president’s speech and the imports and exports to and from that country. Similarly, the p-value is zero, suggesting that there is an association between the overall sentiment of the president during a presidential debate about Japan and the imports and exports with China.
Discussion and Conclusion
To address the question of whether what a president—in this study President Bill Clinton—says is correlated to an increase or decrease in imports and exports as a way to measure the economy, I looked at an analysis of the sentiments of presidential debates against the net import and export values of China and Japan. Overall, I intended to analyze whether the polarity of the president’s speech has an effect on the economy, a theory called presidential signaling. According to Nielsen, a prominent global data analytics firm, 199.2 million people watched the three American presidential debates in 1992 and 72.4 million viewers tuned in for the 1996 presidential debates.What the winning presidential candidate says reaches a large audience, and researchers were able to show that a president’s comments have the power to inspire confidence in consumers.
President Clinton was elected to his first term in 1992, defeating incumbent president George H. W. Bush. In 1994, a year following Clinton’s election, Congress switched parties from a Democratic majority-Clinton’s party-to a Republican majority. According to Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, although the Clinton Administration did not clearly articulate a foreign policy agenda in the beginning of his term, in 1994 he was able to work with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to rescue Mexico’s economy, broker a peace in Bosnia, and work on encouraging a democratic government in Russia.However, the Clinton administration did not maintain a strong position on China and Japan until the 1996 election and subsequent term. The president’s sentiment towards China and Japan shifted between the two elections: in 1992 China was portrayed in a negative light and Japan in a positive light, and in 1996, China was portrayed in a positive light and Japan in a negative light.
The Chi-Square Tests for Independence, Tables 4 and 5, demonstrate that there is a strong correlation between the positive/increase and negative/decrease patterns in speech sentiment and trade. The p-value of zero for both tests indicate that there is no chance that these two factors-speech sentiment polarity and fluctuations in the economy-can happen by random chance alone. What this data demonstrates is that the tone in which the president presents a situation can be correlated to international events, in this case trade and the economy. When the president had an overall positive sentiment, imports and exports went up and when he had overall negative sentiment, imports and exports went down. However, what this test does not take into account are external political factors. One of these factors is Congress, the lawmaking branch of the federal government. Foreign policy is split between the executive and legislative branches, often leading to conflict over who is to have more power. Congress is granted power over the military and foreign affairs such as peace treaties and declarations of war by the Constitution while at the same time making the President Commander in Chief and the face of foreign policy in the United States.According to Philip R. Trimble, Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Senator Fulbright, and assistant legal adviser for Economic and Business Affairs in the Department of State in the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations confirms that the president is the dominant force in foreign affairs. However, Congress plays an incredibly important role in foreign policy because it has control over the funds needed to carry out plans, coordinates agencies and institutions, and puts pressure to get priorities done.The President of the United States has the power to enforce laws made by Congress. Called the completion power, the president has the discretion to execute decisions made by Congress, which gives him the final say in the extent to which congressional policy will be effective. The president also has other channels to exert his power in Congress. As explained by Stephen H. Wirls, professor of American politics and political thought at Rhodes College, the president has used broad power in foreign affairs over the last 50 years and has been expanded over time. While this varies from president to president, Wirls explains that Congress is inclined to go along with what the president says on foreign policy issues or face contradicting the president and risking losing credibility on future foreign policy issues.Therefore, not only does the president have an institutional role in foreign policy, but based off the results that I have gathered, the president has another outlet for influence: what he says. This demonstrates that in a larger sense, the words and meaning that the president puts behind his words is reflected in actual action taken by the United States as a whole. Therefore, by listening to the president, one can understand the direction in which United States economic foreign policy will take. By understanding the correlation between presidential rhetoric and foreign trade researchers, as well as the public and politicians, could factor presidential speech into calculations on presidential actions.
This presents another layer of influence that the President of the United States has. Limitations that I encountered that could be adjusted for future research would be that I analyzed only the correlation between the polarity of the president’s speech and imports and exports. The data collected only demonstrated a correlation rather than a causal relationship. Other factors such as congressional influence, trade agreements, and changes in international politics could have an affect on the imports and exports with China and Japan. This study was also conducted by looking at the presidential administration of Bill Clinton. By looking at other presidents, there could be more understanding if what the president says carries the same influence unilaterally or if the Clinton Administration was an outlier. Furthermore, my research did not take into account other external political factors such as midterm elections and the composition of Congress and the House of Representatives during the time, as well as what was happening inside the governments of China and Japan. For example, if the party of the president is in power it would be easier for him to pass legislation and conduct plans that support his directives. Future research would need to examine how external factors like Congress, the Media, and the public have on the president carrying out promises. Although my research focused on the 1992-2000 time period, research should be conducted on a more current time period in order to observe if similar trends can be observed into the twenty first century. Taking into account more factors would establish a holistic understanding of how foreign policy is controlled in the United States. As shown by my research, the polarity with which the president can be correlated with trade, therefore they are influential tools. This raises the responsibility for presidents to speak with purpose and with intention-as their sentiment is directly correlated with the global trade.
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