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Goods and Services Trade Deficit Hits a New Record High

The goods, and goods-and-services deficits both hit new record highs in September.
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Balance of Trade in Billions of Dollars 2021-09

The commerce department's monthly International Trade Report shows the goods and services deficit was $80.9 billion in September, up $8.1 billion from $72.8 billion in August, revised. 

Exports, Imports, and Balance 

  • September exports were $207.6 billion, $6.4 billion less than August exports.
  • September imports were $288.5 billion, $1.7 billion more than August imports.
  • The September increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $8.9 billion to $98.2 billion and an increase in the services surplus of $0.8 billion to $17.2 billion. 

Year-to-Date Numbers

  • Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $158.7 billion, or 33.1 percent, from the same period in 2020. 
  • Exports increased $274.1 billion or 17.4 percent. 
  • Imports increased $432.8 billion or 21.1 percent. 

Three-Month Moving Averages 

  • The average goods and services deficit increased $2.6 billion to $74.7 billion for the three months ending in September.
  • Average exports decreased $0.8 billion to $211.4 billion in September. 
  • Average imports increased $1.7 billion to $286.1 billion in September. 

Inflation-Adjusted Trade

  • Real exports of goods decreased $7.1 billion to $139.3 billion.
  • Real imports of goods increased $2.4 billion to $250.3 billion.

Numbers Worse Than Expected 

The Econoday consensus estimate was a net deficit $76.1 billion vs the reported deficit of $80.9 billion.


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Exports are down for the month and on average for the last 3 months. Across the board imports are up despite major supply chain issues.

The goods, and goods-and-services deficits both hit new record highs. 

Note the downward trend in services where the US has a small but shrinking net surplus.

Inventory Stockpiling

The surge in imports reflects huge inventory stockpiling. This adds to supply chain pressures and warehouse storage issues. 

When the stockpiling is done, will customers even show up?

Recall that GDP was positive in the third quarter only due to an inventory build. 

For discussion please see GDP Rises 2.0% Entirely Due to Building Inventories, Consumer Spending Weak

Also consider MishTalk TV #4 With Lacy Hunt: Is GDP Overstated?

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