Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The soon to be Don Evans-less Commerce Department tells us today that
The Nation�s international deficit in goods and services decreased to $51.6 billion in September, from $53.5 billion (revised) in August, as exports increased and imports decreased.
For the month, exports were +0.8% while imports were -0.8%, generating an overall trade deficit 3.7% lower than in August.

What was the US selling so much more of in September? Soybeans!! At $414m more, the rise in soybean exports was the #1 gaining category. (Now is a good time to plug a posting I wrote back in October on the United States' waning agricultural trade surplus.) Bet you won't read about that in the wire service reports.

What did we buy less of? Fuel oil!! It was the #2 declining category, at -$384m. Kind of puts the troubling fall in fuel oil stocks throughout September into a new context, doesn't it?

Don't forget the big picture, either. September's trade deficit was still the third largest in history. The four largest in history have all occurred over the past four months. The 2004 deficit is now at $444.5bn, larger already than all of 2002's and on track to be 20% larger than 2003's.

Always read the fine print before you render a judgment on whether these reports are "good news" or "bad news".


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