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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Weak US Trade and Job Metrics Continue

The Trade Deficit and the Weak Job Market

It is often said that the economy is too simple for economists to understand. This is clearly the story with the continuing weakness of the job market and the trade deficit. We are still down more than 3 million jobs from our trend level even with May's strong growth. It should be pretty obvious that losing more than $500 billion a year in demand (at 3.0 percent of GDP) to the trade deficit would be a serious drag on the economy and growth. But for some reason, economists insist on looking elsewhere for the problem.

The basic story should be familiar to anyone who has suffered through an intro economics course. There are four basic sources of demand in the economy: consumption, investment, government spending, and net exports. "Net exports" refers to the excess of exports over imports. If we export more than we import so that net exports are positive, then they add to demand in the economy. This means that in addition to the demand we generate domestically, trade is increasing demand in the economy.

Terrible Decades-Long Trade Trend Deepens

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