With so much attention focused on trade data in recent weeks, Trump will hardly be happy to learn that not only did the US trade deficit grow by 1.6% in February from $56.7BN to $57.6BN, missing expectations of a $56.8BN print, but was the highest monthly trade deficit going back ten years, just as the financial crisis was warming up back in 2008.
According to the Census Bureau, the deficit increased to $57.6 billion, as imports increased more than exports. Broken down by components, the goods deficit increased $0.3 billion in February to $77.0 billion. The services surplus decreased $0.6 billion in February to $19.4 billion.
The good news is that exports of goods and services increased $3.5 billion, or 1.7% , in February to $204.4 billion. Exports of goods increased $3.0 billion and exports of services increased $0.5 billion.
- The increase in exports of goods mostly reflected increases in industrial supplies and materials ($2.0 billion), in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.9 billion), and in capital goods ($0.7 billion). A decrease in consumer goods ($0.8 billion) partly offset the increases.
- The increase in exports of services mostly reflected increases in transport ($0.2), in travel (for all purposes including education) ($0.1 billion), and in charges for the use of intellectual property ($0.1 billion).
The bad news is that imports of goods and services increased slightly more in absolute dollar terms, by $4.4 billion, or also 1.7% of total, in February to $262.0 billion. Imports of goods increased $3.3 billion and imports of services increased $1.1 billion.
- The increase in imports of goods mostly reflected increases in capital goods ($1.8 billion), in industrial supplies and materials ($0.8 billion), and in foods, feeds, & beverages ($0.8 billion).
- The increase in imports of services mostly reflected an increase in charges for the use of intellectual property ($1.0 billion), which included payments for the rights to broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympic Games
Broken down by trading partner, the February figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with South and Central America ($3.4), Hong Kong ($3.1), Brazil ($0.9), United Kingdom ($0.6), and Singapore ($0.5).
Meanwhile, the countries that should be worried they are about to fall in Trump’s trade war sights and resulted in a US trade deficit, included China ($34.7), European Union ($15.3), Germany ($6.7), Mexico ($6.6), Japan ($6.0), Italy ($2.8), OPEC ($2.3), India ($1.9), Taiwan ($1.5), France ($1.4), South Korea ($1.1), Saudi Arabia ($0.4), and Canada ($0.4).
More importantly, it’s not just China: the deficit with Mexico increased $1.0 billion to $6.6 billion in February, while the deficit with Germany increased $0.4 billion to $6.7 billion in February. Meanwhile, the deficit with Canada decreased $1.2 billion to $0.4 billion in February.
Finally, if you want to get Trump really mad, tell him that when stripping away petroleum products – which recently saw record US exports thanks to shale – the US trade deficit has never been greater.