The new monthly record U.S. trade deficits with China and in manufacturing reported by the Census Bureau this morning didn’t represent the only lowlights of America’s September trade performance – just the most newsworthy. To get bummed – but brought up to speed – consider the following:
>The U.S. high tech goods trade deficit more than doubled on month in September – from $4.52 billion to $10.46 billion – the fourth highest such reading on record in this volatile number. The September monthly increase was also the largest in absolute terms in U.S. history, and the level was the highest since November, 2012.
>On a monthly basis, U.S. high tech imports surged by 16.12 percent, to a record $38.76 billion. Exports of these products fell by 1.95 percent.
>The lousy September numbers brought the high tech goods deficit back above 2013 levels on a year-to-date basis – by 1.21 percent. But the $57.21 billion shortfall is still 11.15 percent below the total for the first nine months of 2012.
>The combined goods and services deficit of $43.03 billion topped the downwardly revised August level of $39.99 billion by 7.60 percent. The September shortfall was the nation’s highest since May.
>September’s trade flows brought the figure for the first nine months of this year to $378.13 billion. That’s 3.90 percent ahead of last year’s January-September pace – and it reverses the 11.45 percent improvement that year over the comparable period for 2012.
>Total U.S. exports ($195.59 billion) also sank to the lowest level since May. The $238.62 billion level of total imports was fractionally above August’s figure.
>Surprisingly, the U.S. oil trade deficit, which has been falling dramatically, rose in September month-on-month for the first time since February (by 6.67 percent). The much larger non-oil goods deficit, which is heavily influenced by U.S. trade deals and other trade policies, rose by only 3.77 percent in September. On a year-to-date basis, though, the non-oil goods deficit is running 16.51 percent ahead of last year’s pace. The oil deficit is 19.72 percent lower.
>The U.S. merchandise deficit with the economically troubled Eurozone rose only fractionally in September – from $10.09 billion to $10.12 billion. U.S. exports to the slow-growing region did fall – but not catastrophically (7.75 percent).
>U.S. trade deal partner Korea is experiencing no such difficulties. But on month, the U.S. merchandise deficit in September rose by 25.77 percent, to $2.25 billion. U.S. goods exports to Korea decreased by 9.20 percent, to the second lowest monthly level this year, and U.S. goods imports rose by 1.93 percent.
>From January through September, 2013 to the same nine-month period this year, this Korea trade gap is up only 3.48 percent. But on a monthly basis, since the free trade agreement went into effect in March, 2012, it’s nearly quadrupled, from $564.2 billion.
>And in a sign of what could be in store for domestic U.S. producers, America’s chronic merchandise trade gap with prospective TPP partner Japan rose 12.94 percent from August to September, mainly because exports nosedived by 14.65 percent to their lowest level since April.
>The Japan deficit is still down 10.82 percent this year on a January-September basis, but the Bank of Japan’s decision last Friday to expand greatly its quantitative easing program has already driven the yen to seven year lows versus the dollar, which could easily balloon the trade gap once more.