Later this morning we get new trade numbers. We know it’ll be a deficit, but how much? Lately, it’s been going up — the previous monthly numbers showed the U.S. trade deficit hit a seven-month high. Imports outran exports by more than $48 billion.
Now, monthly numbers wobble around, but the general trend the last three years is up. International investment strategist Paul Christopher at Wells Fargo says customers abroad, especially in weak Europe, are buying less of our stuff.
“It’s just a lot of agricultural products, a lot of chemical products, and a lot of very sophisticated electronics,” Christopher says. “Those are the things the world demands when the world is growing.”
Conversely, things are picking up at home. Americans lately have shelled out for foreign cars and foreign consumer goods — cellphones, medicines, clothes.
“As long as consumers and businesses are buying more and those import numbers are looking healthy,” Christopher says, “that’s also sign the U.S. economy is also going to be growing a bit.”
Of course the trade deficit is a bit of an ink blot test — different people see different things. But in the short term, rising imports reflect a rejuvenated American consumer.
News and information you need, from a source you trust.
In a world where it’s easier to find disinformation than real information, trustworthy journalism is critical to our democracy and our everyday lives. And you rely on Marketplace to be that objective, credible source, each and every day.
This vital work isn’t possible without you. Marketplace is sustained by our community of Investors—listeners, readers, and donors like you who believe that a free press is essential – and worth supporting.