Updating My Trade Data

The trade data I presented in Chapter 8 of Five Short Blasts was primarily 2005 and 2006 data.  Things change fast in this world and the time has come to update my data.  So I’ll soon begin the process of performing the same analysis of 2007 and 2008 data.  I thought you might be interest in the methodology I use.  You might even want to do some fact-finding of your own. 

It begins with gathering the detailed U.S. trade data for each and every country in the world.  I gather the data presented from the “Foreign Trade Statistics” section of the U.S. Census Bureau.  First of all, here’s a link to the page where you can find the information on imports. 

http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/index.html

Click on any one of the coutries to see how the data is broken down and tracked.  I’d suggest selecting one of our biggest trading partners like Canada, China or Japan to see the full gamut of categories.  You may be surprised at the level of detail. 

Next, here’s the link to the exports page. 

http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/index.html

You’ll notice that, as of the time of this writing, the data isn’t yet available for 2008.  I expect that data to be released near the end of this month.  Then the fun begins!

I then take all of this data for each country and plug it into a spreadsheet.  Then I group all of the data into five broad categories:  food, oil and gas, metals & minerals, lumber, and manufactured goods.   I can then calculate the trade balance in those categories for each nation.  I also plug the population density and population of each nation into a column.  Finally, I’m able to sort the data by trade balance and population density and calculate the trade balances in per capita terms.  I’m primarily interested in the data for manufactured goods, as that is where my theory says that the effects of population density will be found. 

It’s a pretty tedious exercise.  I’m especially interested in seeing how the make-up of my list of top twenty per capita deficits in manufactured goods has changed, along with the relationship of the deficit with the more densely populated half of nations vs. the less densely populated half.  Has China risen on the list?  Has the list become even more dominated by overpopulated nations?  Has population density become an even more dominant factor in trade?  Has the U.S. become even more dependent on imports of natural resources? 

All of this data may be presented in a 2nd edition of Five Short Blasts, or it’s possible that I may write a completely new book on the subject.  It’s going to take some time.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress and findings.

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