Friday, March 13, 2009

U.S. Trade: Exports and Imports Decline Sharply in January

by Bill McBride on 3/13/2009 08:30:00 AM

The sharp decline in both imports and exports continues to be an important story.

The Census Bureau reports:

[T]otal January exports of $124.9 billion and imports of $160.9 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $36.0 billion, down from $39.9 billion in December, revised. January exports were $7.6 billion less than December exports of $132.5 billion. January imports were $11.5 billion less than December imports of $172.4 billion..
U.S. Trade Deficit Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through January 2009. The recent rapid decline in foreign trade continued in January. Note that a large portion of the decline in imports is related to the fall in oil prices - but not all.

The graph includes both goods and services. The import and export of services has held up pretty well; most of the collapse in trade has been in goods. Imports of goods has declined by one third from the peak of last July!

The second graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum, through January.

U.S. Trade Deficit The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

Import oil prices fell to $39.81 in January, and import quantities decreased too - so the petroleum deficit declined by $4 billion.

The trade deficit is now mostly China ($20.6 billion NSA in January) and oil.

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