February Uptick in Exports Swamped by Imports

A $1.8 billion rise in manufactured exports in February – the first rise in five months – was swamped by a $3.5 billion jump in imports, sending America’s trade deficit in manufactured goods to its third worst reading ever – $59.7 billion vs. the record of $63.7 billion set in March, 2015.

Since president Obama vowed in January, 2010 to double exports, the overall trade deficit has held fairly steady, thanks only to a slowdown in oil imports.  But the trade deficit in manufactured goods continues to worsen exponentially.  Here’s the chart:  Manf’d Goods Balance of Trade.

Manufactured exports haven’t risen in five years.  In February they were actually below the March, 2011 level.

If America were a business and Obama was the CEO, he’d have been fired long ago for such a pathetic performance.


4 Responses to February Uptick in Exports Swamped by Imports

  1. netbacker says:

    “If America were a business” That’s the problem with this kind of assessment. National governments are not like Businesses or households. Those who do not understand the difference between monetary sovereignty and monetary non-soverrigenty do not understand economics.

  2. Pete Murphy says:

    Nathan, can you elaborate on how “monetary sovereignty” plays into the balance of trade issue?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh, that. I’ve seen that before. The one thing the author gets right is that monetary exchange rates have nothing to do with trade deficits.

    The rest is baloney. For example: “… The logic of the market is that consumers will demand what they think is best. It is clear that they no longer think US production fits that category. That might be heart-wrenching for the dying manufacturing towns – as it was as agriculture waned some decades earlier and communities vanished – but I doubt that you want to argue for protection where the rest of the US consumers subsidise the jobs of a few who can no longer produce attractive enough products in their own right.

    Further, while manufacturing in the US has declined (as it has in most advanced nations), the high productivity manufacturing jobs have stayed in the US. The low wage jobs have been exported to China, India and elsewhere.”

    The fact is that manufacturing jobs across the board – both high productivity and low productivity – have gone overseas. The notion that low wages are the driving force simply doesn’t hold water. Take China for example. Since the U.S. began trading with China in 2000, Chinese wages have quadrupled. Yet, instead of slowing the trade deficit the U.S. has with China, it has accelerated.

    When expressed in per capita terms, our trade deficit with China in manufactured goods barely makes a list of the top 20. The list is actually dominated by high wage nations like Ireland, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and a host of others.

    I encourage you to study the wealth of data I’ve generated on this subject. If you do, you’ll come to understand that trade imbalances are driven by disparities in population density and almost nothing else – not monetary valuations and not low wages.

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