The trade report for July, released this morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (link provided above), shows that the U.S. trade deficit fell nicely in July to $44.8 billion from $51.6 billion in June. The trade deficit in the critical category of manufactured goods also fell, but less dramatically, from $23.1 billion in June to $20.4 billion in July. Exports of manufactured goods rose by $4.9 billion, partially offset by a rise of $2.3 billion in imports.
Still, the trade deficit remains on a downward trajectory as illustrated by the following chart of the trade deficit since Obama made his pledge to reduce the deficit by doubling exports in five years:
As shown in the following charts, the U.S. remains on track to meet his goal of doubling exports in five years, but all of the progress made there has been thwarted by an equal rise in imports. In the category of manufactured products, where the growth in exports needs to be concentrated, results are lagging and are being offset by an equal rise in imports.
July’s trade results are a step forward in the one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back trade picture that the U.S. has been locked into for decades. Obama made the same mistake that his predecessors since Truman have made before him by focusing on exports instead of imports. Now he is paying the price in falling approval ratings while the rest of us pay the price with rising unemployment and falling incomes.
Is there any hope for change when a new president takes office in 2013? More on that later.