Thursday, November 10, 2011

U.S. Exports, Total Trade Reach Record Highs

The total volume of U.S. international trade activity (exports + imports) reached an all-time record high in September (not adjusted for inflation, BEA report here) of $404 billion, slightly higher than the previous record of $401 billion in July 2011 (see top chart above).  Compared to the recession-related, cyclical low of $277 billion of trade activity in May 2009, there has been a 46% increase in U.S. trade, as the U.S. and world economies have gradually  recovered from the 2008-2009 recession.    

The September volume of exports ($180.3 billion) was the highest monthly export volume in history (in both nominal and real terms, see bottom chart), a further sign that a recovery in worldwide economic conditions has increased demand for U.S. products.  There was an overall monthly nominal increase of 1.4% for shipments of U.S. exports in September, including increases in industrial supplies (3.2%), capital goods (0.3%) automobiles (1.7%) and an especially strong gain in consumer goods (5.3%). 


At 11/10/2011 10:37 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

this chart is NOMINAL data.

take a look at page 12 of the release and you will see that the whole up-slope in 2011 is being driven by inflation.

imports have been flat all year in real terms, just fluctuating between 100-102.

real imports are actually down, though not much and you could argue that it is also just bouncing around a flattish line.

the upslope of this line for 2011 is pretty much all inflation.

real imports + exports in january were 152 + 100 = 252.

in September, they were 148 + 103 = 251.

to depict that as a big uptrend by using nominal data seems very misleading to me, especially from a guy who likes to claim inflation is so low.

nominally, we are up 5.3% in X + M from jan-sept, but down 0.4% in real terms.

all you are charting is the over 7% annualized inflation in imports and exports. in real terms (using the reports own chained 2005 dollars) September was below january.

At 11/11/2011 9:54 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Not adjusted for inflation? Given the true inflation rate, rather than what the BLS is claiming, shouldn't we care about exports in real terms?

At 11/11/2011 9:55 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Exports in the bottom chart are displayed in both nominal and real terms.


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