Friday, February 11, 2005

By now you've already heard that the US monthly trade balance for December came in at its second largest tally of all time
The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that total December exports of $100.2 billion and imports of $156.6 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $56.4 billion
November's whopper (im)balance of -$60.3bn was revised down slightly to -$59.3bn, yet lest anyone take even a shred of hope from this report, note that December's deficit was higher than October's, the three largest monthly deficits have occurred in the last three months, and the seven largest deficits have occurred in the last seven months. As recently as November 2003 the US still had a monthly trade deficit under $40bn. Now $40bn is but a happy memory. No wonder the trade balance for the year just ended racks up to -$617.7bn, 24% larger than 2003 and a stunning 46% larger than 2002.

The gaping maw of the US consumer continues to widen. In December, non-petroleum goods imports rose to $113.8bn, the highest level ever. On the year, total non-petroleum imports (goods and services) were 14.5% higher while total exports (goods and services) were 12.3% higher. Thus you don't even need the massive increase in both world oil prices and US petroleum import volumes to generate a widening deficit -- although that 35.7% jump does do it's own bit of damage.

The services surplus for December grew ever so slightly from November, but is still far below what it was in March-April 2004 and light years behind the monthly tallies of 2002. Thus in 2004 overall the US services surplus was 21% smaller than in 2002. At the same time, the goods deficit is 38% larger.

The Great and Powerful Alan tells us 2005 is finally the year this will all turn around. And Professor Marvel saw in his crystal ball that Aunt Em's real name was "Emily." The ability of each to look into the Beyond and discern the truth is downright eerie.

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