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In November, the highest combined U.S. goods and services trade deficit ($50.50 billion) since January, 2012 ($50.98 billion) threatened to push the annual shortfall to its highest level since 2008 ($708.73 billion) – as the Great Recession got underway.

The 3.24 percent sequential increase in the overall trade deficit resulted in part from a 46.11 percent monthly jump in the oil gap and from the second straight all-time monthly figure for total imports ($250.72 billion versus October’s $244.70 billion); record monthly goods imports ($205.46 billion); a second straight record monthly high-tech goods deficit ($15.53 billion versus October’s $13.82 billion) which propelled the total to a new annual record ($100.33 billion) after only eleven months; and all-time highs in the monthly non-oil goods deficit in inflation-adjusted and pre-inflation terms ($66.66 billion versus $65.43 billion), and ($65.22 billion versus $64.99 billion). The former will probably help turn trade into a net U.S. growth killer in the fourth quarter of this year, and since both are largely driven by U.S. trade policy, their growth signals major continuing challenges for the Trump administration in this field.

The immense U.S. manufacturing trade deficit retreated on month from its October all-time high ($88.98 b). But at $86.20 billion, it still represented the second highest monthly total on record, and on an annual basis, this gap, too, seems likely to set its latest annual record. Not surprisingly, given its manufacturing-heavy nature, the enormous U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China looks headed to a new annual record as well.

Here are selected highlights of the latest monthly (November) trade balance figures released Friday morning by the Census Bureau:

>November’s combined U.S. goods and services trade deficit of ($50.50 billion), the highest such level since January, 2012’s $50.98 billion, greatly boosted the odds that the overall trade shortfall in 2017 will be the worst since 2008’s $708.73 billion – which was recorded as the Great Recession was spreading through the American economy.

>As of November, the total trade deficit of $513.58 billion was running 11.60 percent ahead of last year’s rate and is already higher than the full year total of $504.79 billion. The current post-2008 high for the overall trade shortfall is only $548.63 billion, reached in 2011.

>The November combined goods and services trade deficit total represented a 3.24 percent increase over the upwardly revised October figure of $48.91 billion.

>The monthly trade deficit has now risen sequentially three straight times after falling for four straight times.

>One big driver of the trade gap’s monthly rise was a 46.11 percent sequential jump in the U.S. oil trade deficit. The $1.51 billion increase, from just under $3.27 billion to just over $4.77 billion, accounted for nearly 95 percent of the trade shortfall’s monthly deterioration.

>But also contributing were several all-time deficit and import records in various components of overall U.S. trade flows.

>U.S. overall imports set their second straight monthly record in November, with the $250.72 billion topping October’s $244.7 billion by 2.46 percent.

>Monthly goods imports of $205.46 billion amounted to a record, too – surpassing the previous all-time high of $202.37 billion, set in April, 2014, by 1.53 percent.

>The record November deficit in high tech goods of $15.53 billion was a second straight all-time high as well. It eclipsed October’s $13.82 billion by 12.37 percent.

>In fact, this performance has already propelled this shortfall to a new annual record of $100.33 billion – 1.63 percent higher after 11 months than 2011’s 12-month total of $98.72 billion.

>New monthly deficit records were also set in the non-oil goods deficits on both an inflation-adjusted and pre-inflation-adjusted basis. Both reflect significantly reflect on the performance of U.S. trade policy, since they’re comprised of trade flows heavily influenced by trade agreements and similar decisions. And the continued deterioration of these “Made in Washington” trade deficits indicates that President Trump still faces major challenges in transforming America’s approach to the global economy.

>In addition, the inflation-adjusted figure is part of the calculation of the most closely-followed measure of America’s gross domestic product and its changes, and the November results suggest that trade will return to its typical role as an American economic growth killer in the fourth quarter of this year.

>In current dollars, the non-oil goods deficit rose sequentially to its second straight monthly record, with the November $65.22 billion figure standing 0.35 percent higher than October’s upwardly revised $64.99 billion.

>The real non-oil goods deficit also achieved its second straight monthly record in November, as it also increased by 0.35 percent on month to $65.66 billion. This trade shortfall is running 5.65 percent ahead of last year’s pace.

>As a result, the trade drag on the current economic recovery is likely to increase in the fourth quarter from the final third quarter figure of 16.36 percent – representing $459.9 billion worth of after-inflation growth lost since the recession officially ended in mid-2009.

>Interestingly, these developments were so adverse that they more than offset the effects of several record export totals.

>Specifically, a 2.27 percent sequential rise in total exports in November brought them to a new monthly record of $200.22 billion – fractionally higher than the previous all-time best of $200.14 billion from October, 2014.

>Moreover, the services sector set its second straight monthly exports record, with the November figure of $65.66 billion inching past October’s $65.60 billion.

>In addition, goods exports in November rose to their best level ($134.57 billion) since November, 2014’s $135.75 billion.

>The huge and longstanding U.S. manufacturing trade deficit retreated in November from the all-time record it set in October ($88.98 billion). But at $86.20 billion, it still represented the second highest total on record.

>Manufacturing exports fell 1.02 percent on month in November, to $92.88 billion. Manufacturing imports dropped nearly twice as fast – by 2.05 percent, to $179.08 billion.

>Year-to-date, the manufacturing trade deficit is running 6.85 percent seven percent ahead of 2016’s record total of $863.07 billion – which was an all-time high.

>On year between January and November, manufacturing exports have increased by 4.19 percent, and imports have risen by 5.45 percent.

>The massive, longstanding U.S. merchandise trade deficit with China rose by only 0.57 percent month-to-month in November. But the $35.43 billion figure did represent the third highest monthly total on record.

>U.S. goods imports from China in November fell by a mere 0.10 percent from October’s all-time high of $48.20 billion to $48.15 billion.

>U.S. goods exports to China’s fast-growing economy decreased much faster – by 1.93 percent, to $12.72 billion.

>Year-to-date, the China goods deficit is running 7.86 percent ahead of last year’s total – and 1.50 percent ahead of the 2015 rate, which eventually set the current annual record.

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