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There were so many revisions to deal with in yesterday’s jobs report that it just wasn’t possible to post on the monthly trade figures that came out at exactly the same time. But don’t get the idea that they’re less important – if only because they add to the full-year, 2015 data that’s now available, and that give us an ever clearer picture of the ongoing economic recovery. The big takeaway from the trade numbers: They deserve much blame for keeping the current expansion historically weak, and American trade policy has been the worst offender.

Here’s what I mean. As I reminded in covering the first full-year 2015 economic growth figures we’ve gotten (which describe the gross domestic product, or GDP), when the nation’s trade balance improves, America’s export and import performance contribute to growth. When it worsens, it subtracts from growth. As a result, the growth of the trade deficit since the current recovery began in mid-2009 has slowed overall economic growth, adjusted for inflation, by 9.59 percent.

Another way to think about it: From the second quarter of 2009, when the recession officially ended, through the fourth quarter of 2015, the economy expanded in real terms by $2.0867 trillion. But had the after-inflation trade deficit simply stayed the same, the nation would have enjoyed just over $200 billion more growth.

Even better, practically all of this new output – and the jobs it would have created – would have come in the private sector. And its creation wouldn’t have required a single dollar of new tax cuts, or a single dollar of extra government spending – none of which is affordable (unless you agree with the idea that the federal government can and should spend whatever it takes to restore growth to acceptable levels).

As for trade policy, it can be identified as a special problem because, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, the Census Bureau conveniently publishes figures for that (huge) portion of U.S. trade flows that are heavily influenced by trade deals and related decisions. These are exports and imports minus oil (which is always left of out trade agreements) and services (where liberalization has been modest so far).  And Census is even good enough to adjust these numbers for inflation, so they can be studied in the context of the growth figures that are watched most closely.

This real non-oil goods trade has been in deficit for as long as statistics have been collected (since 1994).  And its growth since mid-2009 has reduced total recovery-era growth by more than twice as much in real terms: $418.35 billion. This means that inflation-adjusted expansion would have been a shocking 20.05 percent stronger.

For now, these are the biggest remaining developments revealed by the new trade figures:

>America’s manufacturing sector racked up yet another record trade deficit in 2015, with the $831.40 billion figure shattering 2014’s previous mark of $734.44 billion by 13.20 percent. (These figures are expressed in pre-inflation dollars, not real terms.) It doesn’t take too active an imagination to see the manufacturing deficit move close to the $1 trillion neighborhood this year.

>As noted by most of the economics world, the strong U.S. dollar and weak global growth combined to depress American manufacturing exports. They fell by 6.73 percent in 2015. But even though America’s economy was growing pretty slowly, too, manufactures imports kept rising – by 0.87 percent.

>The manufacturing-heavy U.S. goods trade deficit with China hit a new record in 2015, too. At $365.70 billion, it eclipsed the old mark of $343.08 billion – also set in 2014 – by 6.59 percent. And U.S. merchandise exports to China fell in 2015 for the first time since recessionary 2009. The latest decline, moreover, was twenty times greater than the 2009 decline, even though the Chinese economy continues growing at an official (though probably overstated) near-seven percent annual rate.

>The nearly four-year-old trade agreement between the United States and South Korea (KORUS) has provided the blueprint for President Obama’s negotiators as they developed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. But the results of the Korea deal shows that the U.S. approach is failing badly. Since it went into effect, in March, 2012, America’s merchandise deficit with South Korea has more than tripled on a monthly basis – from $561.4 million to $1.996 billion.

>On that monthly basis, U.S. goods exports to Korea have plunged by 19.78 percent, while imports are up 12.50 percent.

>Between 2014 and 2015, the American merchandise trade shortfall with Korea increased by 13.09 percent, from $25.05 billion to $28.33 billion. U.S. goods exports to Korea fell by 2.18 percent, but imports rose by 3.32 percent.

>Overall, the combined global U.S. goods and services trade deficit was 4.56 percent higher in 2015 than 2014. The $531.50 billion total was the highest since 2012.

>Combined American exports dropped by 4.82 percent, from $2.343 trillion to $2.230 trillion – the lowest such total since 2012. Imports were off by 3.15 percent – from $2.852 trillion to $2.762 trillion. That still represented their second highest total ever.

>The United States ran an annual surplus in services trade – as it has since 1971. But that surplus declined year-on-year (by 2.45 percent, from $233.14 billion to $227.43 billion) for the first time since 2003.

Much more detailed data is available on the U.S. International Trade Commission website, and I’ll be posting on them in the days to come!