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2012 Export Growth by Country; China and US at Top of List; World Trade Slowdown; Rebalancing at Glacial Pace

Inquiring minds are looking at charts from the New York Times that show U.S. Trade in 2012 Outpaced Many Other Countries.

In 2012, United States exports of goods rose 4.5 percent from 2011, a faster rate of growth than that of 10 other major countries but well below the growth rate of Chinese exports. American imports rose 3 percent, but the trade deficit in goods was virtually unchanged. In six of the last seven years, the growth in American exports outpaced that of imports. The United States gained in exports despite declines in trade with some major European trading partners.

Global Export Growth

Global Export Growth

Export Growth Perspective

A little perspective helps as the trade deficit chart from the New York Times shows.

Annual US Trade Deficit in Goods

The US had a trade deficit over $700 billion in 2011 and 2012. That is down from $800 Billion+ between 2006 and 2008 but it is certainly noting to brag about.

World Trade Slowdown

Please consider In World Trade Data, Signs of a Slowdown, a related article by New York Times columnist Floyd Norris.

WORLD trade slowed last year, as major countries like Japan and Germany shipped exports that were worth less than those in 2011. The United States bucked the trend to some extent, but the 4.5 percent increase in exports was far smaller than the 15.8 percent jump in 2011.

Import totals can provide an indication of economic woes, as declining incomes cause consumers to buy less, including fewer items from abroad. Imports fell in Germany, France and particularly Italy. This week, the European Union reported that the euro zone economy declined in the fourth quarter -- the third consecutive fall. Germany's economy, which had been growing slowly, also shrank.

Exports plunged in all countries during the crisis, but the trends since then have varied. German exports in 2012 were 3 percent lower than in 2008, while French exports were off almost 8 percent. Japanese and British exports were about 2 percent higher. The United States, by contrast, reported exports of goods in 2012 that were up 20 percent from 2008, and Brazilian exports were 23 percent higher.

Those gains pale next to those of developing Asian economies. South Korean exports in 2012 were 30 percent higher than in 2008, while China bolstered its shipments by 43 percent. Indian exports were 50 percent higher.

Rebalancing at Glacial Pace

To the extent there is any global rebalancing (if at all), the pace is certainly glacial. In regards to Europe in particular, I see no evidence at all. For details, please see ...


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