Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Trade Deficit Continues To Widen

Which is surprising, for several reasons. 

Normally, a country trade deficit or surplus is largely the result of the relative strength of its currency.  In the U.S., the dollar has been cascading lower from its peak in March, 2009, to its trough in December, as the dollar fell by 18%.  It has bounced a bit since then, but remains a very short distance above its bottom.

When a country such as the U.S. runs a trade deficit, it must be offset by a surplus in finance.  In the past, our trade deficits were "balanced" by other countries buying Treasuries.  But, that's changed.  It seems that, as a result of our reckless spending, money creation and bailouts, large dollar holders such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and India want nothing to do with our crippled dollar.

The trade gap grew by nearly 10% to $36.4 billion from October's revised figure of $33.2 billion.   November's number was the highest since January, 2009, despite a drop in the dollar of approximately 15%.
A large portion of the trade gap resulted from higher oil prices.  As you may note, this "explanation" for the trade rise is a bit circular.  One reason, but NOT the main reason for the rise in oil prices, is the fall in the dollar!

"Now for Something Completely Different", as Monty Python would say.  In Great Britain, according to the Office For National Statistics Data,  the U.K.'s trade deficit SHRANK with non-European Union (EU)countries from 3.8 billion pounds to 400 million pounds.  The deficit with non-EU countries widened by 200 million pounds.  The pound is currently worth $1.62.

Canada's trade position reversed from surplus to deficit last month.  Imports leaped by 3.9% while exports slipped by 1.1%.  Canada has now posted deficits in 4 of the last 5 months.

Global trade cannot have either a surplus or deficit since the "books" of all trading partners must be in balance at all times.  However, overall Global trade can rise or fall, primarily as the result of weakness or strength in the world economy.  According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), global trade bottomed in March, 2009.  Regardless, on a year-over-year basis, world trade is down by approximately 10%.

Thanks for reading!

Marko's Take

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