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Meet the new third quarter U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) figures. Practically the same as the old third quarter figures – including on the trade front. The nearly identical 33.1 percent inflation-adjusted annualized growth revealed in today’s second official look at the economy’s performance between July and September remains as meaningless in terms of the fundamentals as it is breathtaking.

After all, it’s completely distorted by the CCP Virus pandemic and resulting shutdown-like decisions and altered consumer behavior that now seem likely to end sooner rather than later due to recently announced vaccine progress. (More industry-specific shifts involving sectors like higher education and business travel and real estate and on-line shopping and the like? They’re of course shaping up as very different stories.)

But it’s worth reviewing the trade highlights of this morning’s figures (and the very similar numbers reported last month) to show just what incredible statistical outliers the pandemic and the government and consumer responses have produced.

The after-inflation quarterly trade deficit came in at $1.0164 trillion at an annual rate – a little worse than the $1.0108 trillion initially estimated. But that’s a staggering 31.13 percent increase from the second quarter total of $775.1 billion – a jump that positively dwarfs the previous record increase of 13.18 percent between the first and second quarters of 2010.

And keep in mind that jump came as the nation was rebounding from the Great Recession – which at that point was its worst economic slump since the Great Depression. Indeed, as reported last month, that quarter’s annualized growth rate was only 3.69 percent – only about a ninth as strong.

Because this year’s third quarter real trade deficit increased slightly while the economy’s growth remained essentially the same (for the record, the new GDP increase number was fractionally smaller than last month’s advance read), the hit to growth from that trade gap rose as well. Its subtraction from growth is now judged to be 3.18 percentage points, not 3.09. Only the 3.22 percentage points cut from growth in the third quarter of 1982 have bit deeper in relative terms.

The bigger trade deficit figure resulted from total imports that rose faster than exports. Last month, the Commerce Department estimated that the former were 12.42 percent greater than the second quarter level. Now the increase is pegged at 12.56 percent. The previous quarterly total import growth figure – which in absolute terms is much bigger – has been increased from 17.58 percent to 17.89 percent.

But where these changes stand in U.S. trade history is nothing less than stunning. The quarterly total import data go back to 1947, and their growth in the third quarter of this year was the strongest since the 21.88 percent recorded in the second quarter of 1969.

The quarterly total import statistics also began in 1947, and on this count, the third quarter’s increase was the worst since the 23.47 percent surge in the third quarter of 1950. These latest trade performances are all the more eye-opening upon realizing that overall U.S. trade flows in 1969 and 1950 were so much smaller than they are today, meaning that big percentage increases were much easier to generate.

The quarterly real trade figures for goods and services individually only go back to 2002, but although the timeframes are much shorter, they’re equally special. During the third quarter of this year, the sequential improvement in goods exports is now reported as 19.60 percent. That’s an all-time high that far surpasses the next best performance – the 6.94 percent advance achieved in the fourth quarter of 2009, during the recovery from that previous Great Recession.

Goods imports in the third quarter soared by 20.08 percent – again dwarfing the previous record of 5.67 percent not-so-coincidentally also recorded in that fourth quarter of 2009.

The story with services trade – which has received an historic blow both nationally and globally from the virus and the shutdowns – interestingly is somewhat less dramatic for the third quarter. Constant dollar services exports only inched up by 0.21 percent in the third quarter, from $582.1 billion annualized to 583.3 billion. These industries clearly are still reeling from the 20.27 percent sequential export collapse they experienced between the first and second quarters, and the 5.67 percent drop between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of this year. As a result, these exports in real terms are sitting at their lowest levels since the second quarter of 2010.

Price-adjusted services imports rose a much faster 5.91 percent after inflation between the second and third quarters. But that increase was only the second biggest on record – after the 7.04 percent jump in the third quarter of 2003. These more modest historical changes reflect the impressive growth in services trade for most of this century – albeit from a base much smaller than that of goods trade.

Please keep in mind that the individual goods and services trade figures still don’t add up to the totals, as I first reported in September. But they’re not that far off, either, which means that the overall third quarter numbers still seem reliable enough, and still confirm how unusual CCP Virus-era trade flows have been – and are likely to be until the nation reaches the Other Side.