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United States: November Net Trade Deficit Higher

By: Ian Campbell | Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The U.S. November net trade deficit grew to $48.7 billion, up by 16% from October. This resulting from the difference between imports and exports of $231.3 and $182.6 respectively.

Almost no one, economists, journalists, or internet commentators seem to focus on net trade deficits as an important 'economic marker' for any given country. I do not believe the 'economic saw' of 'trade deficits and surpluses don't matter because in the end they will all adjust' makes sense in today's globalized world where widely disparate manufacturing hourly wage rates prevail.

Once again, assuming the December 2012 U.S. net trade deficit will be reported as $45 billion (which is unlikely to be materially wrong) here are charts of the U.S. net trade deficits for each of the twelve months ended November, 2012, the 22 years ended 2012, and the history of U.S. cumulative net trade deficits since 1971 when then President Nixon announced:


I suggest you review these three charts carefully.

The United States has consistently run unabated net annual trade deficits now since 1976. The third chart shows the build-up of the U.S. cumulative net trade deficit from 1971 to date. Note that by 1999 that cumulative amount had reached about $2 trillion, and currently is about $9 trillion. I continue to believe this statistic to be an important economic marker, and is a measure of U.S. economic weakening measured against its principal trading partners. No one else seems to think so, or at least few comment on it.

Topical Reference: Electronics Imports Drive 15.8% Growth in Trade Gap, from The Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2013 - reading time 3 minutes.


Author: Ian Campbell

Ian R. Campbell, FCA, FCBV
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Through the Economic Straight Talk Newsletter Ian R. Campbell shares his perspective on the world economy, the financial markets, and natural resources. A recognized business valuation authority, he founded Toronto based Campbell Valuation Partners (1976), Stock Research Portal (2007) a source of resource companies market data and analytic tools, and Economic Straight Talk (2012). The CICBV* annually funds business valuation research in his name**. Contact him at
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