(Project of the Kajima Institute of International Peace)
Economic Influences of the Trump Administration
Senior Associate, Society of Security and Diplomatic Policy Studies
Professor, Gakushuin University
1. Changing Macroeconomic Environment
Since the day after Donald Trump won the US presidential election, the market has shown a trend to favor weak yen (strong dollar) and the rise in the stock price and interest rate was observed. The market fell in confusion on the very day the victory of Trump became certain, but soon after, the market conditions started to show the above-mentioned trend.
The main points of the economic policy of the Trump administration is clearly stated in "Scoring the Trump Economic Plan: Trade, Regulatory, & Energy Policy Impacts" by Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross, which came out last September. The administration will implement deregulation in the areas of finance and energy to boost the export of shale gas and oil. A drastic reduction in corporate tax will be realized, while fiscal expenditures will be increased through inflationary measures and investments in national defense. The administration will proactively push forward export expansion in accordance with its trade policy, which I will touch on later.
In terms of its macroeconomic policy, the administration is likely to accelerate economic stimulus. The US economy has already achieved almost full employment. If the economy is overheated through-stimulus measures, interest rates, prices, and wages will rise remarkably.
As if sensing such an economic development, the US long-term interest rate has been rising after Trump's victory. The rise will contribute to weaker yen. Moreover, as stock prices rise in the US market, the Japanese stock market tends to rise likewise.
The present situation is too opaque to say anything about the future of US financial policy, but, as a whole, the Trump administration is changing the course to a monetary restraint and fiscal stimulus policy from the Obama administration's monetary easing and fiscal restraint policy.
The trend of weakening yen will give a major boost to the Japanese economy which is still groping to exit from deflation. Oil prices have now turned upward after hitting the bottom, and the view that Japanese prices and wages will rise more swiftly than expected earlier is gradually gaining more ground.
Given the Trump administration"s macroeconomic policy to further lift the US long-term interest rate, as long as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) attempts to maintain its long-term interest rate (the ten year national bond yield rate) at near zero, the interest rate spread between Japan and the United States will widen, and the pressure to depreciate the yen will mount. This will serve as a strong favorable wind for the Japanese economy struggling with deflation.
2. Does Trump's check against cheap yen work?
It is hard to imagine, however, that the Trump administration which shows readiness to check high dollar may readily approve excessive depreciation of the yen. Japan may be blamed for currency manipulation along with Germany and China, and the verbal intervention to realize strong yen against US dollar will be made.
However,it is the macroeconomic policy of the United States that is accountable for the current strong-dollar situation, not Japan, Germany or China. The greatest foe of President Trump who is trying to check strong dollar may be President Trump himself who is about to embark on a full-fledged economic stimulus package.
Japan is concernedapprehensive that Trump administration may put its nose into her macroeconomic policy, arguing that an easy-money policy of the BOJ is responsible for weak yen. The BOJ is implementing an easy-money policy in order to stop deflation; meanwhile it is difficult to negate that the policy has led to weak yen as a result. It is a cause for alarm if the United States starts intervening in Japan's monetary policy, using excessively weak yen as an excuse to do so.
While the US long-term interest rate is on the upward trend, if Japan tries to cling to the long-term interest rate target at zero, the yen may become much weaker to the dollar. Such an excessively weak yen is not preferable for Japan either. Therefore, if the US long-term interest rate rises, the BOJ can as well accept a rise in the long-term interest rate to a certain extent.
It may be a little hasty to predict, but it is necessary to assume the possibility of changes in the trend of low inflation, low interest rate and low growth that has continued so far. the BOJ is likely to change its stance andto accept the rise of its long-term interest rate if Trump's policy stimulates the US economy, and leads to a higher US long-term interest rate,. The BOJ should let the interest rate rise to maintain appropriate exchange rates rather than persist in zero interest rate, thereby causing an excessively weak yen.
What "an appropriate yen-dollar exchange rate" is a question hard for anyone to answer, but it is certainly not compatible with such a yen value exceeding 120 yen to a dollar. The current exchange rates ranging between 110 yen and 115 yen to a dollar may be a favorable level for Japan aiming at overcoming deflation. At all events the main premise for the BOJ to accept higher long-term interest rates is a steady continuing rise in price and wage. Signs are visible around us that prices and wages are starting to rise. If prices and interest rates continue rising gradually, it is desirable to connect this trend to an exit from excessive monetary easing. To this end, we should watch closely the development of the present macroeconomy.
3. Trade Friction under the Trump Administration
The present author wants to draw attention to the economic policy of the Trump administration in terms of its influence on macroeconomy as described above and trade policy. The aforementioned report by Navarro and Ross has given a very high score to Trump's trade policy. In other words, the trade policy is a key for the administration to realize the expansion of employment and a strong US economy.
President Trump has put to the fore a very strong protectionist policy since during the electoral campaign. The Navarro-Ross report includes statements to the following effects: China's entry into the WTO flooded America's markets with Chinese imports, thereby creating massive, chronic trade deficits; since there are many unfavorable points in NAFTA, a renegotiation is necessary; it was a mistake to have concluded the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, etc. Given such statements understood at face value, it is apprehended that the United States may make a great shift to take up a protectionist policy.
Actually just after taking office, President Trump suspended visa issuance to people from some Middle Eastern countries, and brought about confusion in the movement of people across the borders. Furthermore, as part of corporation tax reform, President Trump gave orders to levy a border tax on import goods while reducing export taxes, and thus he is reportedly considering the introduction of a protectionist taxation system that may be against WTO rules.
It is difficult to judge at this moment how far such a movement may be materialized. Because a US trade policy is largely decided by the Congress, a further development will depend upon congressional decisions. Furthermore, it is not decided by the government's intention alone whether the United States moves in the direction of protectionism. Another stakeholder is private enterprises. Remember the Japan-U.S. trade friction from 1980s through 90s, where it was not exaggerated to say that US private enterprises proactively took initiative in the trade friction over automobiles and semiconductors.
Filing anti-dumping suits; criticizing Japanese industries by publishing reports to play up the so-called closed character of Japanese business practices, and taking into a political showdown whenever there is a chance --- these were notable features of the Japan-U.S. trade friction. We must keep watch over actions American automobile and steel industries will take. Such protectionist actions of US companies are in a sense induced by the US government's protectionist stance. In this sense, the US government's stance is primarily important in trade friction.
Japanese industries seems to have been alerted a great deal, as, among others, Toyota Motor Corporation was criticized by name in Trump's tweets. Our car manufacturers represent Japanese enterprises that depend highly on the US market. For years to come, the industrial policy of the Trump administration will be an instability factor for many Japanese companies that will continue business in the United States. It will constitute a serious problem for the affected companies.
From a macroeconomic point of view, however, it is uncertain whether protectionist policies are to influence investments and trade in a great measure. Many Japanese companies have had much difficulty in trade friction since 1980s, but Japanese trade and overseas investment do not seem to have been adversely affected thereby. Japanese car manufacturers have thus far continued to respond flexibly by the expansion of production in the United States, and have achieved business growth even during the years of trade friction. Expectations are high for the responsive capabilities of Japanese companies.
4. The US-Japan Bilateral Talks
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the United States seems to have somewhat soothed Japanese people's anxiety about the economic policy of the Trump administration. From the summit talk between President Trump and PM Abe in Washington and Florida we can learn clearly about the Trump administration's attitude to evaluate relations with Japan. The US side seems not to have been critical about Japanese economic policy on exchange rates or trade policy.
It is worth noting that the a new US-Japan economic dialogue will be held under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Aso and Vice President Pence. Details of the meeting agenda are yet to be discussed, but as the meeting will be cross-sectoral in nature, it is unlikely to have trade issues in individual field discussed there. This is a preferable move.
The Trump administration made a showy start by withdrawing from TPP. It is a disappointing move for Japan, which has been conducting TPP negotiations for years and has pursued domestic coordination. As the possibility to revive TPP in some way or other in the future has not completely vanished yet, Japan should keep a never-say- die attitude. Reportedly PM Abe has explained the significance of TPP to President Trump at the recent summit talks.
The possibility cannot be denied that a bilateral agreement such as a Japan-US free trade agreement or a Japan-US economic partnership agreement would be placed on the agenda for Japan-US bilateral talks. In fact, President Trump seems to hold a strong wish to develop a bilateral negotiation with major countries. He clearly states his intention to start such a negotiation with the United Kingdom.
Witnessing substantial progress in multilateral TPP negotiations, many Japanese people may feel disgusted about the idea of discussing a bilateral agreement afresh. Indeed, a multilateral agreement has obvious advantages; however, until the United States announced its participation in TPP several years ago, no small number of people here had asserted that a Japan-US free trade agreement should be concluded.
Promoting a comprehensive economic dialogue with the United States, its most important economic partner, is certainly advantageous to Japan. Meanwhile, in the past trade friction negotiations, Japan used to be pressured into an involuntary settlement regarding automobiles and semiconductors; consequently, we should be careful in future negotiations. On the other, it is quite significant for both countries to discuss the rules in cross-sectoral manner.
Throughout TPP negotiations, discussion was made on investment rules and new institutional arrangements for service areas, besides border measures like tariff elimination. It is meaningful for both countries to reconfirm those rules in a similar way and formulate them into a bilateral agreement. Once such an agreement has actually been adopted, it will serve as a model agreement for other countries in the Asia-Pacific, and in result it may be possible to aim at realizing a cooperative regime conceived by TPP promoters.
In any case, Japan needs to actively advance bilateral talks with the United States. It is desirable to link the results of the recent summit talks in Washington to future development.
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- Front Cover
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- December 2019, "The US-China Confrontation --- Where Will Hegemony Reside Next?" Akio Takahara Professor, the University of Tokyo
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- December 2018: The US-China Competition and Japan, written by Ryo Sahashi, Professor at Kanagawa University
- December 2018: An Outlook for the US-China Trade War―What makes the two economically interdependent superpowers confront each other?―, written by Takashi Sekiyama, Associate professor at Toyo University
- September 2018: Proposal, "The Denuclearization of North Korea and the Restoration of Peace in the Korean Peninsula― Correct Perceptions and Eight Proposals on Japan's North Korea Diplomacy－" edited by the Society of Security and Diplomatic Policy Studies
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- July 2018: "The EU States and Russia on North Korea Issues- Expansion of Influence through Diplomacy: Attempts and Limitations -" lectured by Yuichi Hosoya, Professor of Keio University
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- "Korean Peninsula Issue and Japan's Future Security Policy" written by Hideshi Tokuchi, Senior Fellow of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies
- July 2018: "US North Korea policy affected by personnel changes in the Trump administration" lectured by Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
- "China-North Korea relationship under Xi Jinping" lectured by Shin Kawashima, Professor of the Tokyo University.
- "North Korean Denuclearization and Russia" lectured by Nobuo Shimotomai, Professor of the Hosei University.
- March 2018: "The Network Hegemony Theory for a Security Architecture in The Asia Pacific Region" lectured by Masahiro Akiyama, Chairman, the Society of Security and Diplomatic Policy Studies
- January 2018: "A Destabilized Middle East" lectured by Koichiro Tanaka, Professor, Keio University
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- August 2017: "Does Economic Interdependence not Encourage Collaboration? ―Thinking Japan-China Relations from an Economic Perspective―" written by Takashi SEKIYAMA, Ph.D., Toyo University
- July 2017: Proposal article "The Trump Administration's Impact on the Cross-Strait Relations" written by Yasuhiro Matsuda, Ph.D.
- June 2017: Proposal article "The outlook for the relationship between two great powers and implications for Japanese diplomacy" written by Professor Shin Kawashima
- May 2017: (Emergency Proposal) Facing the Inconvenient Truth: Re-examining Policy for Peace and Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula (Chief author, Masao Okonogi)
- March 2017: "Economic Influences of the Trump Administration" written by Professor Motoshige Ito
- February, 2017: Proposal article "Trump's Foreign and Security Policy - Unpredictable President, Realistic Secretaries - " written by Mr. Tsuneo Watanabe is posted on the website of SSDP.
- December, 2016: Proposal article "Reconsidering North Korea Policy: How to Deal with a Nuclear Armed Divided States" written by Professor Masao Okonogi is posted on the website of SSDP.
- Taiwan-Japan Round Table on August 24th, at Capital Tokyu Hotel
- Japan-Korea Political Leaders Dialogue was held on February 10th,2023 at International House of Japan
- March 2022, A remembrance seminar "Remembering Professor Ezra Vogel" held on January 17, 2022
- March 2021, Japan-ROK Parliamentary Dialogue -Japan-ROK Cooperation in the Era of US-China Competition- held on March 11, 2021
- December 2020: The report of the Japan-ROK Future Dialogue held on November 21 to discuss "Japan-ROK Cooperation in the Post-Covid-19 Era
- October 2020: "Responses to COVID-19 and Agendas for the Post-COVID-19 Era", A Brief Overview of the Japan-Korea Experts Dialogue held on July 29,30, 2020
- October 2020: "The China-Taiwan Confrontation over Corona Response and Taiwan's Security" written by Makoto Ogata, Former Chief of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in Taipei
- May 2020: "Rivalries in the Middle East in New Security Dynamics", Written by Sayed Ghoneim, Major General (retired) of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Chairman, Institute for Global Security & Defence Affairs
- March 2020: The Japan-South Korea Relationship in a Cul-de-Sac--- Where is an Exit ? Masao Okonogi Professor Emeritus, Keio Universit
- December 2019: The Hong Kong Upheaval and the Future of Cross-Straits Relations－The 2019 Japan-Taiwan Strategic Dialogue Report OGATA, Makoto Former Chief of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in Taipei
- August 2019: Report; 2019 FUTURE CONSENSUS DIALOGUE --Sustainable Prosperity and Future of Korea-U.S.-Japan Cooperation-- By Future Consensus Institute (Yeosijae)
- June 2019: Report on India – Japan Security Dialogue 2019 by Ms. Vindu Mai Chotani, Ph.D Student, The University of Tokyo
June 2019: Four papers on Japan-India Cooperation submitted to India-Japan Security Dialogue 2019
Japan's Rationale for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision
Tsuneo Watanabe, Senior Fellow, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation
The Significance and Possibilities of India-Japan Cooperation in the Concept of the Indo-Pacific
Toru ITO Associate Professor, National Defense Academy of Japan
Japan-India Defense Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Context - Operationalizing the Security Aspect of the Indo-Pacific Vision –
Hideshi Tokuchi, Senior Fellow, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)
India-US-Japan Defense Cooperation: What's next?
Dr. Satoru Nagao, Hudson Institute
- Japan's Rationale for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision
- November 2018: "The Present State of the Japanese Economy and Policy Issues" lectured by Motoshige Itoh, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo.
- November 2018: "Expanding Social Security Expenses and Fiscal Reforms" lectured by Kazumasa Oguro, Professor at Hosei University.
- September 2018: "Taiwan Identity and Cross-Strait Relations and Trump's Taiwan Policy and the Future of Taiwan-US Relations-Discussion at The Second Japan-Taiwan Strategic Dialogue (June 21, 2018, Taipei)-" written by OGATA, Makoto
- September 2018: "Japan-Taiwan Dialogue 2018 Minutes", 21st June 2018, Taipei, Taiwan.
- July 2018: Report on The Second Japan – Philippines Strategic Dialogue prepared by Ms. Vindu Mai Chotani, Ph.D. Student, Graduate School of Public Policy, Tokyo University.
- May 2018: "Civilian Control "at Crisis"? – Perhaps Not, for the Case of the Field Sit-reps from SDF's South Sudan Mission" reported by Ippeita Nishida, Research Fellow, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation
- January 2018: "Fukushima, Genki？Project－Young Taiwanese volunteers introduce the facts on Fukushima's revival through documentary films－" reported by OGATA, Makoto, Former Chief of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association in Taipei
- December 2017: "Commemorating a Quarter Century of Dispatches of the JSDF's PKO Units: Challenges and Possibilities in the Post South Sudan" written by Takayuki Shoji, Lecturer, Nihon University
- November 2017: "19th CCP National Congress" written by Mr. Bonji Ohara, Senior Research Fellow, the Sasakawa Peace Fondation
- October 2017: "What is Japan's Role in the Indo-China border conflict?" written by Dr. NGAO,Satoru, Research Fellow, Institute for Future Engineering
- July 2017: "Overview of the Current Situation in Taiwan-" the Naturally Independent Generation" will affect the Taiwan"s politics-" written by Makoto Ogata MGE.(Ret.)
- June 2017: "Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue" written by Mr.Takaaki Asano
- March 2017: "The Japan-Philippines Strategic Dialogue" written by Mr. Hideshi Tokuchi
- February, 2017: Current topic "The Importance of Japan's Security Role Under Trump" written by Dr. Satoru Nagao is posted on the SSDP website.
- December, 2016: Current topic "Widening Security Task: Will SDF do the Job?" written by Mr. Ippeita Nishida is posted on the SSDP website.
- September 2023, Research journal "Security Studies vol5 no3" (Hegemonic America: Where It's Headed) in English edition was published.
- June 2023,Research journal "Security Studies vol5 no2" (Nuclear Crisis Scenarios Facing Japan and the Outlook of Nuclear Deterrence and Arms Control and Disarmament) in English edition was published.
- March 2023,Research journal "Security Studies vol5 no1" (What Will Happen to European Security?―Facing the War in Ukraine) in English edition was published.
- January 2023, Research Jounal "Security Studies (vol 4 no 4)" - Defending Our Country – Defense Policy in a "New Cold War Era - was published.
- October 2022, Research Jounal "Security Studies (vol 4 no 3)" - Xi Jinping's China - Politics, Economy, Society and Diplomacy - was published.
- Jun 2022, Research Jounal "Security Studies (vol 4 no 2)" -The Russia-Ukraine War and Its Global Impact- was published.
- March 2022, Research Jounal "Security Studies (vol 4 no 1)"-What is Economic Security?- was published.
- December 2021, Research Jounal "Security Studies (vol 3 no 4)"-Korean Peninsula Situation- was published.
- September 2021, A research journal "Security Studies vol03 no03" -Asia's Security II- (English edition)
- June 2021, A research journal "Security Studies vol03 no02" -Asia's Security I- (English edition)
- March 2021: Research journal "Security Studies (vol3 no1) "- US Foreign Policy in the Biden Administration / The 2020 US Presidential Election and American Democracy -(English edition)
- December 2020: A research journal "Security Studies (vol2 no4) "- Normalize Japan-South Korea Relations trough Dialogues -(English edition)
- September 2020: A research journal "Security Studies (vol2 no3) "-The Novel Coronavirus and Security-(English edition)
- July 2020: A research journal "Security Studies (vol2 no2) - Middle East Situation and Japan's Security - " (English edition) was published
- May 2020: A research journal "Security Studies (vol2 no1) - Cyber, Space, Environment and Security - " March 2020 (English edition)
- February 2020, "A research journal "Security Studies (vol1 no4) " (English edition)"
- September 2019: A research journal "Security Studies (vol1 no3) " (English edition)
- August 2019: Korea-Japan Joint Seminar: FUTURE CONSENSUS DIALOGUE
- April 2019: "Security Studies (vol1 no2) April 2019"
- March 2019: A research journal "Security Studies vol1 no01" just published
- February 2019: The Denuclearization of North Korea and the Takeshima Issue
- December 2018: Former Vice Defense Minister Masahiro Akiyama's Memoirs (An Ad)
- November 2018: Participation in the Future Consensus Forum held in Beijing
- September 2018: "2018 Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue" reported by Masahiro Akiyama
- 2017 December: "The Butterfly Project-A possibility of showing a solution to the North Korea problem-"
- October 2017: Campaign on the problems with North Korea
- August 2017: A New Containment Policy Strategy
- June 2017: Korean peninsla
- March 2017: President Duterte
- February, 2017: Kazakhstan
- November, 2016: Participated in Astana Club 2016 held in Kazakhstan on November 14- 16, 2016.