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Foreign Policy

Obama’s Legacy: US-China Relations and the 2016 U.S Presidential Results

Oct 07 , 2016
  • Marianne Ojo

    Visiting Professor and Post-doctoral Researcher, George Mason University

Whilst many are left to ponder on the consequences of a Trump victory and the potential impact on U.S.-Mexico relations, few are left in doubt regarding the impact of Obama’s tenure as President on U.S.-China relations. 

Immigration became a lessened point of contention during the first presidential debate on September 26. This can largely be attributed to the current socio-economic climate in the U.S. – accentuated by the ever growing disparity between low and high income earners – even though matters relating to national security interests remain high on the agenda.

This commentary highlights why the financial markets will play a crucial and deciding role in the U.S. Presidential election results, in addition to clarifying the importance of information uncertainty with voters. It will also accentuate why the President Obama’s legacy may impact the outcome of the 2016 Presidential race.

The race is definitely close-to-call and the topic of much speculation. 

The Middle East and NAFTA: The “Achilles Heel” of the Democratic Party?

It may have come as quite surprising that the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, focused the debate on trade deals and matters of national security rather than the usual rhetoric of building walls and the slogan, “make America great again.”

Trump previously has been vocal about his immigration policies – both with respect to the Mexican border, radicals, and terrorists; however, those sentiments were notably absent from the first Presidential debate. Indeed, immigration did not attract as much focus and attention – unlike federal tax filings and private Email non-disclosures.

Without a doubt, the economy and matters of national security remain the most valid and strongest points of argument that may eventually decide the Presidential race to the White House. Immigration may have featured as a red herring; however, it increasingly appears to be the case that voters are more concerned about the job market and issues of national security rather than issues related to “undocumented immigrants”.

As shown in the debate, Hillary Clinton was said to have displayed composure and presented herself presidentially. She remained composed and formal throughout the event giving many the impression of a candidate able to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

Yet after the debate, the question still remains whether voters going to the poll on November 8th will be swayed in their judgment toward her experience and composure rather than the legacy of her predecessors.

Although the theme of “Making America Great Again” invokes ideas that are reminiscent economic prosperity and robust national defense measures, it will be interesting to see the impact and lasting impressions that will eventually determine the 2016 Presidential Race.

Two conventional points were highlighted as crucial in the build up to the 2016 Presidential election:

  1. Markets are positioned for a Clinton win, regardless of whether the House stays Republican.
  2. Markets are not positioned for a Trump victory. As we approach the election and Trump takes a noticeable lead, and if it appears Trump has a reasonable chance of winning, market volatility will increase. 

Just how devastating could Trump be for the U.S economy? The financial markets are preparing and testing the waters, and it can be speculated that the markets will adjust if Trump wins the election despite initially reacting with volatility.

The financial markets’ reaction to the Presidential debates, in the weeks to come, will also be keenly observed by voters – as well as the global audience and investors – as matters of economic interests, national security, and information uncertainty dominate the discussions.

Another key question that will be decided on the 8th of November is whether President Obama’s legacy will impact the outcome of the 2016 Presidential race for the White House. Undoubtedly, his legacy generates far-reaching consequences for the newly elected President.

President Obama will certainly be remembered improving U.S.-China relations, introducing the Affordable Care Act, and spearheading the ratification of the Paris Global Climate Agreement – a ground-breaking achievement for environmental concerns and causes.

Whether his successor will introduce more protectionist measures, endanger the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, or indeed retain the same terms and conditions that prevail with the existing NAFTA deals remains to be seen and will inevitably impact U.S. trade relations.

As it draws closer to the election, it will also be interesting and crucial to see the level of uncertainty and trust generated by the Presidential candidates regarding policies and initiatives that affect U.S. citizens and the global community alike. Current foreign affairs elements may also decide the fate and path of the Presidential candidates if controversial global events – notably including the current political climate in Syria-- decide to expose the weaknesses or strengths of the present administration or presidential candidates.

Matters of economic interest and national security: these could still prove to be either strong or weak points for the current administration. The state of China’s economy will also have a role to play in determining future and current U.S- China relations.

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