No surprise, we still have a trade deficit

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SCOTT JAGOW: Another number just landed on my desk: The trade figures for May. The U.S. imported 63 billion dollars more in goods than it exported. That's the sixth-largest trade deficit in history. And frankly, just a sign of the times. Here's Stacey Vanek-Smith:


STACEY VANEK-SMITH: The US has become a world-renowned spendthrift in recent years. It seems we just can't stop importing.

Diane Swonk is chief economist at Mesirow Financial. She says the trade deficit isn't just our issue any more. The economies of China and Europe are now hooked on the US buying up their exports.

DIANE SWONK: At one point there was sort of a call, 'US just clean up your act.' And now it's seen as much more of a complex problem with the interdependencies. And when you've got co-dependents, it's even harder to fix the problem.

Swonk predicts the deficit situation could improve by the end of the year, as the economy slows. Still, she says, that doesn't mean we'll be out of the woods.

SWONK: The deficit is already huge relative to the economy, and even if we see a stabilization in it, it's kind of like saying, we stopped the hemorrhaging, but we've not begun to succor the patient.

Swonk says solving the trade deficit problem will take years-and needs to go slowly, so it doesn't upset the global economy too much.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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