US Trade Deficit: Impacts

The US has been a huge trade deficit for almost half a century.  Last year the figure was $552.3 billion and America’s deficit just with China amounted to $335.7 billion.  The question is, what impact does this have for America’s economy?  Experts have different ideas as to where this ultimately leads and what it means vis-à-vis its imports and exports.

For the most part, the commonly held view among economists is that such a trade deficit has little or no impact on unemployment figures or makes any dent on the economy in a negative day-to-day way.

Especially when looking at the money made from consumer imports like apparel, mobile technology, appliances etc.  Yet the question arises as to how it will impact the economy as travel and media are more utilized given that there was a $255.2billion surplus in that in 2017 as well.

Another argument could be made that America’s increasing trade deficit is actually more due to America fiscal policy and currency swings than trade policy.

According to Oxford Economics economists, there is little expectation that the trend will alter all that  much with the recent agreement between Xi Jinping’s recent agreement to increase its US export purchasing.  They pointed out:

“Although China has agreed to import more farm, energy and industrial goods, and restart importing soybeans ‘immediately,’ we look for export growth momentum to continue to wane,” they wrote, pointing partly to a slowing global economy.”

Plus the fact that it is getting even more expensive (increase from 64 percent of GDP in 2007 to 105.5 percent in 2018) to rescue America from its deficit.

So there is a long way to go until America is even on the road to recovery.  It seems that with its greatest deficit in a decade, the fact that oil exports are on the rise will do little to temper the  moods of the country’s economic advisers.

US Economy: Lengthening and Strengthening

America’s economy is strengthening.  And this is being matched by its length expansion as well. Indeed in May of this year, “the U.S. economic expansion has become the nation’s second-longest on record.”  A lot of the country’s power is size-related – being one of the world’s largest countries vis-à-vis population.

Since the country is so large, its task of keeping its economy on track – even growing – becomes more challenging.    But it seems to be responding to this situation extremely well.  Just looking at figures for last month we see a creation of 250,00 jobs nationwide.  Growth rates in the 2nd and 3rd quarters this year were 4.2 and 3.5 percent respectively.

Experts are even saying now that if there is still no recession by the end of June, this uptrend will exceed 120 months, outpacing the last huge expansion that occurred in 1991 for two years and breaking the record since 1857!

And then of course this has a cumulative effect worldwide.  Workers outside of America that are manufacturing products sold in America benefit since global growth in general is extremely dependent on US economic cohesion.

According to Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, a lot of this good news is because of the successful work of the Fed.  He said:

“I’m very happy about the state of the economy now. There’s pretty good reason to think we’re going to continue in a positive vein like that. Our policy is part of the reason the economy is in such a good place now. I want to leave on a note of optimism about our economy. We’ve been through a difficult time and we’ve faced difficult times before. We’re in a good place now. I do believe our economy can grow and grow faster.”

US State Expenditure Hike

According to the annual state expenditure report of the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), there was an increase in US state spending – a first for the 2018 fiscal year.  Industries most impacted were health and transport (6.5% possibly due to an increasing focus on infrastructure throughout the nation) but in every category there was growth.   There was a 6.2 percent hike in general fund revenue during the same time frame.

Executive director of NASBO, John Hicks explained:

“The fiscal 2018 data presents a slightly improved fiscal situation than the prior two years. We’re seeing a slight increase in the growth of spending both from total spending and states’ own funds.”

In addition, there was a more substantial increase in federal fund state spending as compared to state generated revenue spending.   And activity within the manufacturing industry did not meet expectations, dropping to its nadir since April 2017.  According to Timothy Fiore, Chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee:

Demand remains moderately strong, with the New Orders Index easing to below 60 percent for the first time since April 2017, the Customers’ Inventories Index remaining low but improving, and the Backlog of Orders Index remaining steady. Consumption softened, with production and employment continuing to expand, but at lower levels compared to September.”

US Economy: “Humming Along Just Fine”

Numbers for the end of October show that there was a 3.1% increase in wages and salaries (according to the Employment Cost Index – ECI) and 227,000 jobs created (far exceeding the actual expectation). US economy clocked one of its best six month stretches in the past decade with growth up 4.2% in the second quarter and 3.5% in the third quarter.

Watch this for more:

Additional US Job Creation

October was a great month for job creation throughout America.  According to an Economic News Release from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,  250,000 jobs were added last month.  Unemployment remains at a almost-5 decade low at 3.7% with Hispanic unemployment getting to its lowest ever – 4.4%.  There has been a hike in salaries too.

All this, in spite of Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael.

US Consumer: “In Good Shape”

The current state of the average American consumer, is, according to CEO at The Hershey Company, Michelle Buck a good one. Americans’ confidence in the economy is positive. Brian Cornell feels similar.  As CEO of Target he sees similar activities to his peer Buck, purporting that the “consumer environment may be the strongest [he’s] seen in [his] career.”

One reason for this – Cornell believes – is because Americans are “seeing wages rise.”  According to entrepreneur and investor Kevin O’Leary, it is the “small domestic companies” we have to thank for this.  He said:

“Small domestic companies are the unsung hero of the policy that’s emerged from this administration.”

With a staggering 6.7 million job openings seen at the end of  June 2018; a situation which has been described as “an unprecedented imbalance.” Indeed, as numbers from the Department of Labor show for the end of October, 2018 the amount of people receiving extended jobless benefits – 1.636 million – is the lowest since 1973.

O’Leary further explained that:

“We are having the best year ever — ever in the last decade,” O’Leary said. “The deregulation in the state and the municipal and the federal level has given confidence to these operators to do something they haven’t done in 10 years: to actually take out loans and invest in their businesses, and create jobs, and increase sales, enhance margins, scale up.”

Still, there is some cause for concern since there are currently 7.14 million job openings, which basically means Americans are not skilled enough (or too lazy) to fill these positions.  So there needs to be some work on job training and career guidance.

The midterm elections and policy-making from now until 2020 could have a substantial impact on this.

America vis-à-vis its Chinese Trade War

America is back in business.  At least according to a recent World Economic Forum Index  ranking the nation as the world’s “most competitive country,” a position it has not had for the last decade, concluding that “economic recovery is well underway, with the global economy projected to grow almost 4% in 2018 and 2019.”

While this is extremely positive, the forum also found that there is room for improvement on social issues.    Caution was called for since “recovery remains vulnerable to a range of risks and potential shocks,” such as the simmering trade war between America and China.  According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal:

“The U.S. has levied tariffs on a total of $250 billion of Chinese goods and China has retaliated with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. exports as the two nations spar over trade imbalances and other issues.”

When looking at China vis-à-vis America, with the trade war, there has been an expansion of its economic deceleration with the deterioration of the trade war.  There has been a distinct loss of momentum in China’s economy in 2018, linked to the efforts made by its government to curb the high debt levels.

Clearly both America and china are losing out with the current trade war. Here, we find 11 experts offering possible exits to the war.

Hedvig Hricak & Colleagues Honored by National Academy of Medicine

Three members of the National Academy of Medicine were recently honored for their outstanding service. As the National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau explained,

“These distinguished members have shown extraordinary dedication to furthering science and improving the health of our nation. The countless hours they have volunteered in various roles year after year have been crucial to helping the National Academy of Medicine address critical issues in health, medicine, and related policy, and inspire collective action across sectors. We are delighted to honor them today.”

The three doctors included Elaine L. Larson, Hedvig Hricak and Nicholas Peppas. Here are a few details about each of these distinguished medical leaders.

Elaine L. Larson: She is a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University and she has been a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine since 1986. During that time, she has served on more than 50 projects and 17 committees, councils and boards. She was awarded with the Walsh McDermott Medal for her distinguished service with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for an extended period of time.

Hedvig Hricak: She is the chair of the department of radiology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Since she was elected in 2002, Hricak has worked tirelessly for NAM and National Academies with her work with many committees and symposia. She was awarded the David Rall Medal which is awarded to someone who has shown distinguished leadership as the chair of a study committee or with another National Academies activities. She has shown commitment above and beyond what is expected. As a prepared statement said, “Through her exemplary service over about 15 years, Hricak has treasured the NAM as a valuable stimulus for improving science in medicine, the quality of health care, and the state of public health in the U.S. and around the world.”

Nicholas Peppas: He is a professor and director of the Institute for Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, and Regenerative Medicine and Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering #6 at the University of Texas at Austin. He has received more than 150 awards and he has been elected to several domestic and international societies. He received the Adam Yarmolinsky Medal which is given to a member who comes from outside the health or medical sciences and has shown real commitment to the mission of NAM.

Market Alert

Martin Feldstein – Economics Professor at Harvard University – reports on FOX Business on “how the Trump administration reached a trade deal with Canada and Mexico. Feldstein also discussed the current state of the U.S. economy.”

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