Dr Michael Courtney wins Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship

Dr. Michael Courtney of the School of Law and Government has won a two-year postdoctoral fellowship from the Irish Research Council. His project will examine the extent to which excessively negative media sentiment towards female political leaders adversely affects a country’s bond rate, at a huge potential cost to that country’s finances.

Dr. Courtney’s research interests are broadly related to political parties, the social background’s of political leaders, political economy  and quantitative text analysis. His research has featured in the journal Irish Political Studies, and at major international conferences such as the European Political Science Association’s annual meeting, at various locations, and the Midwest Political Science Association’s annual conference in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is also a member of the FuJo Media Institute.

The project follows on from his current work on the POLSENT project with colleagues from the School of Law and government, Dr. Michael Breen, Prof. Iain McMenamin and Dr. Gemma McNulty. This ongoing project examines the relationship between media sentiment and countries’ bond markets. It has established that a positive relationship exists between the volume of news about macroeconomic policy in the UK, and volatility on the UK bond market.

The upcoming project more closely investigates media reports on countries’ budgetary developments and how reporting varies depending on the gender of the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. For example, Australia’s former Prime Minister was subject to excessively negative media sentiment, particularly from The Australian newspaper, compared to party colleague and former PM Kevin Rudd. Effects on sovereign bonds due to political events are quite often temporary, but there is some evidence that the market for Australian bonds reacted positively to budgets put forward under Kevin Rudd’s leadership but negatively under Julia Gillard. Interestingly, both PMs had the same finance minister, Wayne Swan.

The project will investigate these dynamics in 20 countries and build on the developments made by the POLSENT project by analysing more media within each country and incorporating speech data from national parliaments which is assumed not to vary (on the government side) according to the gender of a country’s top political leaders.