June’s Enormous, Humongous Trade Deficit Is Up 9 Percent

Dave Johnson

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday that the June trade deficit rose to $44.5 billion. This was an increase of 8.7% percent from May’s $41 billion (revised from $41.1B).

The increase in the trade deficit was almost entirely from rising imports. June’s exports were $183.2 billion, up only $0.6 billion from May, while imports were up $4.2 billion. So in May we bought much more than we sold from the rest of the world, and in June we bought even more than that.

For some reason this massive imbalance with our “trading” partners that has us buying so much more than we sell is described as “trade.” But if we were really “trading” with them we would not have such an enormous, humongous and continuing trade deficit.

The June “goods” trade deficit increased $3.8 billion to $66.0 billion. Imagine if we were engaged in actual “trade” and American factories had $66 billion more in orders in a June. (And another $66 or so billion the following month, and every month.) Imagine the hiring, the suppliers booming, the local stores around the factories booming, the boost in tax revenues to fund schools and health care and science and infrastructure…

Imagine our economy if we actually “traded” with the rest of the world in a reasonable, balanced way. That is how to understand the enormous, humongous trade deficit. It’s not just some huge, meaningless number, it’s a measure of the jobs and wages and tax revenue that funds schools and roads and research and infrastructure and parks and health care and potentially child care and free college and elder care and …

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