from Follow the Money

The June trade balance (a day early)

August 9, 2006

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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We know that China's monthly trade surplus is still rising.  July's surplus was close to $15b.  Tomorrow we will know if the US deficit is still rising. 

I usually offer my analysis of the trade data soon after it is released, but I will be tied up all day tomorrow.  So rather than analysis, I'll give you my recommendations for what to watch.

First, what is happening to non-oil imports?  It is easiest to just look at non-oil goods imports rather than non-oil goods and service imports.  Non-oil goods imports have been around $127b all year.  They were on the weak side in May -- only $126b.    Non-oil imports are a sign of economic activity.  But I cannot entirely rule out the possibility that they might grow a bit faster than they have so far this year even if the economy slows.

Second, does the June data confirm the uptick in May's monthly exports -- goods exports were $84b, v $81-82b earlier this year, and total exports were $118-119b rather than $115b -- or not?   Strong export growth obviously would be an unambiguously good sign.    The monthly data so far this year hasn't shown a strong trend increase in exports -- but that could change if the June data shows another solid increase over the May total. 

I also enjoy comparing China's goods exports -- around $80b in July -- to US goods exports.  China is on track to overtake the US later this year or early next year ...  it already is getting close.

Third, what happens to real oil imports?  Prices are likely to be up.   Does that lead to a cut back in demand?  Or does demand recover after a slow start this year.

 

Finally, I want to congratulate Nouriel on his first (formal) appearance on the FT's comment page.   Like Calculated Risk, I am not sure that I know what a hard-soft landing is, but I am pretty sure Nouriel is even more bearish than PIMCO.  He doesn't think export growth will save the US from a major slowdown; we may have a better sense after tomorrow.  I am sure that there will be plenty to discuss in my absence.

 

 

 

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