Once again, at first blush, the November trade deficit, announced this morning by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, seems to be great news. The deficit fell a steep $5.0 billion to $34.3 billion, the lowest reading since 2009 when global trade was still in a big slump.
However, almost all of the improvement can be attributed to a $4.3 billion improvement in the trade in oil. The trade deficit in manufactured goods improved by only $0.4 billion. Manufactured exports rose by $0.9 billion, but they needed to rise by $1.7 billion in order to keep pace with Obama’s goal of doubling exports by January, 2015. As a result, manufactured exports lagged the president’s goal in November by $34.4 billion, beating the previous shortfall, set only 2 months earlier, by $0.5 billion. And, it should be noted that this shortfall exceeds the total trade deficit by $0.1 billion. In other words, November’s trade deficit is due entirely to Obama’s failure to follow through on his promise – something we should all be used to by now – his broken promises on trade policy.
Manufactured exports have risen by only $0.3 billion since March, 2012. (To keep pace with Obama’s goal, they needed to rise by $30.1 billion during that period.) Here’s a chart of trade in manufactured goods, followed by a chart of the balance of trade in that category: Manf’d exports vs. goal , Manf’d Goods Balance of Trade.
None of this is surprising since. like presidents before him for the past six decades, Obama has done nothing to stop the mindless application of free trade policy to situations where it makes absolutely no sense – trade with badly overpopulated nations incapable of providing us access to equivalent markets.