Categorized | Trade

Does USTR Even Know What a Trade Deficit Is?


We entrust our trade negotiations to these people.

From the Office of the Department of Commerce propaganda site, via the USTR propaganda site.

New Data Shows 29 States Hit Record Export Levels In 2012:
 Contributed to record-setting $2.2 trillion year for U.S. exports
Nationally, jobs supported by exports increased to 9.8 million in 2012

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced new state export data that shows 29 states set new records for export sales in 2012. In total, 35 states achieved merchandise export growth in 2012, and 20 of those states experienced growth of at least five percent or more. …

Memo to the Executive Branch.  Net exports matter.  Gross exports don’t, except to the extent they contribute to net exports.

Its like saying the Boston Red Sox scored 3 runs in yesterday’s game but 5 runs today. Wait… you ask… “what did the other team score?” Answer: “Well, um, isn’t it great the Red Sox scored more runs than yesterday?” Response: “No, we need to know whether they scored the most runs you schmuck.”

When our trade negotiators and government economic team believe an increase in gross exports is a victory, they should be re-assigned to some other position where they can do no harm.

When our trade negotiators and government economic team believe increased “two way trade” is a victory, they should be… yes… re-assigned.

Gross exports and two way trade grow every year - except during a recession - and our net trade is a massive deficit.

I repeatedly remember a CPA meeting with a high-level staffer at the Department of Commerce in 2009.  We said “why is it you don’t believe that net trade is the yardstick for success.”  She said “we do.”  We said, “Why do we hear about gross exports in all your department’s press releases, if that’s the case.”  She said “I don’t know.”

Argh! (Pulling hair out of head).


5 Responses to “Does USTR Even Know What a Trade Deficit Is?”

  1. Bob Hall says:

    We can stop spinning our wheels if we see these people as morally, not intellectually defective. We can then respond appropriately. We might also consider the possibility that they have no financial interest whatsoever in curbing “China’s” currency manipulation.

  2. There’s something wrong with that supposed export
    data. The U.S.has been running at about $1.3 trillion
    in exports and about $2,4 trillion in imports. After
    taking out petroleum imports, it still left a trade
    deficit of about $600 billion for 2012. To achieve
    @2.2 total in exporta would have meant a 50% increasw
    in exports in one year - simply not possible. Has anyone
    analyzed the claims in Ms Blank’s report?

  3. W. Raymond Mills says:

    Mr. Davis - The news release from the U.S. Census Bureau of Feb.8 this year shows total exports (goods and services) of 2.2 trillion for 2012 and 1.6 for goods only. Trade deficit of 540 billion for 2012 and 560 billion for 2011.

    Bottom line - still a large trade deficit but exports show a gain of 66 billion. Not a reversal but at least the trade deficit is not growing and exports are not declining.

    Don’t know where your number of 1.3 billion came from.

    • Mr. Mills: Thanks for the accurate figures. My figure from memory was for exports of goods, not goods and services . But stiil, the main point is the one CPA is making - that it’s net exports that count. And we did run just under $600 billion in trade deficits for 2012. We also continue to run trade deficits of more than $1
      billion dollars a day. Here we are with huge arguments about the
      $85 in cuts in the sequestration for this year when no one paid
      any attention to the $600 billion in income lost in the 2012 trade
      deficit along with 4% in GDP.

  4. Milt Heft says:

    I don’t enjoy being a “Johnny One-Note”, but why have we forgotten the word “OUTSOURCING”? The token increases in exports mean almost nothing stacked up against 50,000 companies who moved to China, leaving five million production workers on the dole. Even while our exports climb ever so slowly, there’s no pressure to bring home the outsourcers. Then qwe an once again manufacture the things we consume instead of relying on China to send us goods in ecvhagfe for an IOU - which thry seem to want to llect.


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