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Economic Growth

The Clinton Administration’s economic growth strategy focused on open foreign markets, investments in the American people, and fiscal discipline. This topical research guide provides links to open record collections related to these three areas of economic policy. This guide also points to collections from both the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) and the National Economic Council (NEC) during the Clinton Administration.

Photograph of President William J. Clinton Speaking at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Event at the United States Chamber of Commerce

President Clinton’s economic growth policy aimed to open world markets to American goods and provide leadership on globalization. In 1993, President Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into law; NAFTA created a free trade zone between the United States, Canada, and Mexico by lifting tariffs on the majority of goods produced and exported among the three nations. The Clinton Administration worked to diffuse international economic crises in Mexico in 1995 and Asia in 1997 and also increased relief to Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) in 1999. In 2000, Congress ratified Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China with the goal of integrating China into the world economy and protecting America from unfair trade practices. In addition, the Clinton Administration conducted trade negotiations with the Free Trade Area of the Americas, Japan, Nicaragua, Panama, Singapore at APEC 2000, Venezuela, and Vietnam.  

Declassified documents include material on international economic conferences during the Clinton Administration, such as the Economic Summit in Japan in 1993 and meetings with the Group of Seven (G-7) and the Group of Eight (G-8). President Clinton’s efforts with the G-7 and G-8 included debt relief plans for poor countries and the goal of universal basic education. Items in the Declassified Documents Collection contain additional information on foreign economies and foreign trade during the Clinton Administration.

President Clinton points to graph during remarks

Another area of President Clinton’s economic growth policy was rewarding work and empowering communities in the United States. President Clinton pushed to help all Americans benefit from economic prosperity, including efforts with the Community Reinvestment Act and minimum wage. The Clinton Administration also attempted to improve education and training and modernize financial service laws for the betterment of the American economy. 

In addition, President Clinton’s economic growth policy included fiscal discipline and reducing the national debt. The Clinton Administration History Project collection on the History of the National Economic Council includes digitized material on the Deficit Reduction Plan of 1993, the Balanced Budget Act of 1995, and creating a budget surplus to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

Council of Economic Advisors

Council of Economic Advisors (CEA)

The Employment Act of 1946 established the Council of Economic Advisors. During the Clinton Administration, the CEA prepared reports and Weekly Economic Briefings which analyzed how issues such as climate change affected the economy. CEA chairs included Laura Tyson (1993-1995), Joseph Stiglitz (1995-1997), Janet Yellen (1997-1999), and Martin Bailey (1997-1999). Additional CEA staffers included Jeffrey Frankel (1996-1999), Robert Z. Lawrence (1999-2001), and Kathryn L. Shaw (1999-2001). 

Learn more about the history of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton Administration.

National Economic Council

National Economic Council (NEC)

President Clinton created the National Economic Council (NEC) in 1993 to coordinate domestic and international economic policy among all cabinet agencies (and also with the Council of Economic Advisors). The NEC was chaired by Robert Rubin (1993-1995), Laura Tyson (1995-1996), and Gene Sperling (1996-2001).  Additional NEC staffers include Cecilia Rouse (1998-1999) and  Lisa Green (1999).

Learn more about the history of the National Economic Council during the Clinton Administration.


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