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November 14, 2005

Creeping Closer and Closer to the International Financial Crisis Red Zone

This isn't "news"--it's not surprising at all. But it is disappointing.

September Trade Gap Set Record: By VIKAS BAJAJ: The United States trade deficit widened by a surprisingly large 11 percent in September, reflecting both a surge in energy imports after Hurricane Katrina and a steep drop in airplane exports because of a strike, the government reported yesterday. The trade gap with China also set a record. The United States imported $66.1 billion more in goods and services than it exported in the month, breaking the record of $60.4 billion set in February, the Commerce Department reported. The trade deficit in the first nine months of the year totaled $529.8 billion, about 18 percent higher than in the first nine months of 2004. That figure itself was up 21 percent over the period in 2003.... "One-third of the widening of the deficit is the oil bill, and aircraft sales explains most of the rest," said Carl Weinberg, chief global economist at High Frequency Economics, a research firm....

"Only with very weak U.S. growth or a major drop in the U.S. dollar will the trade deficit improve on a sustained basis," said Ethan Harris, chief United States economist for Lehman Brothers. "The reason you need these dramatic movements is that the U.S. has, according to almost every study, an incredible appetite for imports."... "If the Chinese abandon our Treasury market, we would see an enormous jump in interest rates," Mr. Harris said, "and, of course, if we stop buying their products their economy is going to go into recession."

The Chinese government reported yesterday that its October trade surplus with the rest of the world jumped to a record $12 billion in October. It had a total trade surplus of $80.4 billion for the first 10 months of the year, 2.5 times the figure for the period last year....

The time we have to get the U.S. trade account unwedged is limited. We don't know how long we have before we enter the webzone, but we have a year less than we had last November.

Posted by DeLong at November 14, 2005 12:05 PM