Monday, May 18, 2009

Sentiment: United States vs. China

Today's graphs give me a very queasy feeling. I decided to compare the sentiment in the United States vs. China, and let's say the results are not very good for the home team.

In particular, United States sentiment has been highly negative since the beginnings of the dailies depository in November 2004, a rating I would like to attribute at least initially to the war in Iraq and the Bush administration in general. Indeed, the months marking Obama's election (November 2008) and his inauguration (January 2009) represent peaks in sentiment despite the economic crisis. But what floored me was the sharp negative spike in April 2009. I attribute this to kvetching about the long-term strength of the dollar, but regardless U.S. sentiment polarity hit a new dailies low during this month.

By comparison, check out the sentiment graph for China over the same period. It has been generally positive since November 2004, with the exception of the Sichuan Earthquake in Spring 2008. The big positive spike is August 2008 results from the enormously successful Beijing Olympics, which also give a nice boost to the U.S. that month. Negative sentiment from the world economic crisis rules the next several months, but the Chinese funk lifted in April as the U.S. continues to descend.

Now these generally negative U.S. and positive China sentiment reflect the longer term time-series from the thirty-year archival depository. Negative news always gets more play than positive news in U.S. newspapers, so it is the changes in sentiment which are more revealing than the absolute sign. The biggest plunge in U.S. sentiment in this period occurred (appropriately) September 2001.


  1. Interesting analysis. Is this as reported by the US Media or the World Media? With respect to China, how negative was the sentiment during the Tibetan protests leading to the Olympic torch relay.


  2. Actually, you are right. China's negative spike starts in March 2008 with the protests on the Olympic torch relay, and stays negative through the May 2008 earthquake -- which among other things effectively ended the protests.

    The time series presented draws on world sources, but mostly from the United States.