Trade gap widened “unexpectedly” in November by almost 16%, prices declined in December

posted at 9:21 am on January 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Today’s big economic indicator gave a pessimistic view of the start of the new year. The international trade gap jumped almost 16% in November, rising $6.6 billion to $48.7 billion. Both imports and exports increased, but the prices for both fell in December, a potential portent of recession:

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that total November exports of $182.6 billion and imports of $231.3 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $48.7 billion, up from $42.1 billion in October, revised. November exports were $1.7 billion more than October exports of $180.8 billion. November imports were $8.4 billion more than October imports of $222.9 billion.

In November, the goods deficit increased $6.6 billion from October to $65.7 billion, and the services surplus was virtually unchanged from October at $17.0 billion. Exports of goods increased $1.6 billion to $129.3 billion, and imports of goods increased $8.2 billion to $195.0 billion. Exports of services increased $0.1 billion to $53.2 billion, and imports of
services increased $0.2 billion to $36.3 billion.

The goods and services deficit decreased $0.1 billion from November 2011 to November 2012. Exports were up $5.8 billion, or 3.3 percent, and imports were up $5.7 billion, or 2.5 percent.

CNBC’s Jeff Cox describes the mixed bag:

The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly grew in November, a drag on economic growth, although the gap’s widening was driven by a surge in consumer goods imports, which gives a positive signal for consumer spending.

Also, prices declined for U.S. imports and exports in December, a sign of the chill in the global economy that is hurting exporters but giving respite to U.S. drivers stung by high fuel prices. …

Analysts were expecting the deficit to shrink to $41.3 billion, so the report could lead some economists to trim their forecasts for economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, CNN reports this morning that corporate layoffs may be looming:

The American Express job cuts look especially gloomy.  As Reuters notes, they usually occur as the economy slides into recession, although Amex says that they’re looking at other factors:

Credit card company American Express Co said it would cut about 5,400 jobs, or 8.5 percent of its workforce, as it restructures its business and pay legal bills. …

American Express tends to cut staff at the beginning of recessions. But CEO Kenneth Chenault, speaking to stock analysts after the announcement Thursday, said spending with its cards continues to grow.

“This is not driven by our view of the macro environment,” he said.

The company said the job cuts will happen over the year and come even as it hires some new employees and invests in more online customer service. The current workforce of 63,500 people will be about 4 to 6 percent smaller by the end of 2013.

Either way, they’re reducing staff by 4-6%, and they aren’t going to be the only company to do so.  Don’t expect robust economic growth from Q4 when the report comes later this month, in other words, and we may need to expect less than that in Q1.


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Elections have consequences. Too bad one of them is our wallets being anally penetrated.

Archivarix on January 11, 2013 at 9:28 AM

The real news here is that we are still manufacturing any goods to export — or are these all raw materials, like lumber? The not-news is that this is being overwhelmed by our importation of floods of cheap Chinese crap made of scrap steel and assorted other garbage.

The definition of a colony is an entity that exports raw materials and imports manufactured goods. Guess what nation we’re a colony of now? Thank you, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama.

Scriptor on January 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM

If anything Obama has brought more economic freedom.

lester on January 10, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Sounds like a few more people will be getting a taste of that obozo brand economic freedom.

Flange on January 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Layoffs are good, it gives people more time to work on their hobbies such as plastic airplane models, stamps, painting, and scrounging for acorns at the empty lot down the street.

Bishop on January 11, 2013 at 9:34 AM

If anything Obama has brought more economic freedom.

lester on January 10, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Well, admittedly, Obama has liberated millions of people from their jobs.

The Rogue Tomato on January 11, 2013 at 9:35 AM

OT: just announced on foxnews- Jay Rockefeller retiring in 2014, not going to seek a 6th term. He is 75.

karenhasfreedom on January 11, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Either way, they’re reducing staff by 4-6%, and they aren’t going to be the only company to do so. Don’t expect robust economic growth from Q4 when the report comes later this month, in other words, and we may need to expect less than that in Q1.

I sure am glad that there was enough low information voters to put Obama over the top in November. This economy is roaring./s

dirtseller on January 11, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Does anyone know when was the last time the us had a trade surplus?

DarkCurrent on January 11, 2013 at 9:40 AM

OT: just announced on foxnews- Jay Rockefeller retiring in 2014, not going to seek a 6th term. He is 75.

karenhasfreedom on January 11, 2013 at 9:35 AM

That seat is a likely Republican gain. Manchin is the only democrat in West Virginia popular enough to win an election and he already has a Senate seat. Shelly Moore Capito, currently the 2nd District congresswoman had already announced she’d run for the Senate, so she will likely be the Republican candidate.

wildcat72 on January 11, 2013 at 9:42 AM

OT: just announced on foxnews- Jay Rockefeller retiring in 2014, not going to seek a 6th term. He is 75.

karenhasfreedom on January 11, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Is he in WV? If so, the GOP will find a way to screw that one up.

Doughboy on January 11, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Cripe

cmsinaz on January 11, 2013 at 9:44 AM

What’s coming is going to be brutal.

I thought we were going to be in for Stagnation pt3, but alas…

…The peeps I’m friends with – 20something minorities – are beginning to see something ain’t right.

Barry pt2 was purely about the symbolism, and know his core group is slowly coming to admit it.

budfox on January 11, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Jay Rockefeller retiring in 2014, not going to seek a 6th term. He is 75.

karenhasfreedom on January 11, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Too bad. What this country needs is more politicians who would be 82 by the time his next term is over. /

Seriously, who is the NYT going to rely on to leak intelligence information now?

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 9:48 AM

I sure am glad that there was enough low information voters to put Obama over the top in November. This economy is roaring./s

dirtseller on January 11, 2013 at 9:39 AM

But it wasn’t about the economy! It was about free contraception for sluts. It was about evolving on same-sex marriage. It was about Obamaphones. It was about not cutting one cent from entitlement programs. It was about amnesty for little brown criminals.

In short, it was about electing Santa Claus instead of the guy who wanted to solve problems.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Maybe Barry can stimulate the economy by just printing more money. It worked so well in Zimbabwe.

GarandFan on January 11, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Do not worry the Parasite class President will save us… all what we need is to tax the producers more and spend more on the parasites…

mnjg on January 11, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Is he in WV? If so, the GOP will find a way to screw that one up.

Doughboy on January 11, 2013 at 9:43 AM

As long as they we do not have a candidate who talks stupidly about rape and abortion then we have a good chance of winning this senate seat…

mnjg on January 11, 2013 at 9:58 AM

My goodness; who could’ve seen this coming?

Midas on January 11, 2013 at 9:59 AM

As long as they we do not have a candidate who talks stupidly about rape and abortion then we have a good chance of winning this senate seat…

mnjg on January 11, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Let’s put this in perspective. It wasn’t about stupid candidates, it was about party officials and prominent conservatives who defended their comments in the aftermath. Claire McCaskill is a political whore who would have been easily defeated if not for equally whorish idiots like Mike Hukcabee.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 10:07 AM

a potential portent of recession:

You don’t understand recessions just never happen under Democrats according to Obama voters and even if they it would be blamed on Boehner for not passing everything Obama wants.

gsherin on January 11, 2013 at 10:08 AM

But it wasn’t about the economy! It was about free contraception for sluts. It was about evolving on same-sex marriage. It was about Obamaphones. It was about not cutting one cent from entitlement programs. It was about amnesty for little brown criminals.

In short, it was about electing Santa Claus instead of the guy who wanted to solve problems.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 9:51 AM </blockquote

what guy was that? the one who famously wrote off 47% of the population? he wanted nothing to do with their problems. He left them to fend for themselves. The reason the election was what it was was because the GOPe put up the worse candidate possible so the liberals in Dc didn't lose their power to us hicks.

unseen on January 11, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Once you get Barack, your economy ain’t never coming back.

albill on January 11, 2013 at 10:24 AM

“…The peeps I’m friends with – 20something minorities – are beginning to see something ain’t right.”

What? Med students from Asia? The rest of the young, single, minorities, etc. all think things are swell (e.g. November 6th.)

The aforementioned want Hillary to screw us for the next 8 years after Obama leaves office.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the chronically stupid and aggressively ignorant to suddenly “get it.”

SAMinVA on January 11, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Hot Air only has negative economic news because it feeds into the worldview of doom the economy because a democrat is president.

Stick to Bloomberg and CNBC for actual economic news.

Seven Seas on January 11, 2013 at 10:35 AM

what guy was that? the one who famously wrote off 47% of the population? he wanted nothing to do with their problems. He left them to fend for themselves. The reason the election was what it was was because the GOPe put up the worse candidate possible so the liberals in Dc didn’t lose their power to us hicks.
unseen on January 11, 2013 at 10:20 AM

I’m not in the mood for re-hashing the election with people like you trashing Mitt Romney. Who do you suggest would have been a better candidate. I’m not talking about the way Romney blew the campaign strategy by not going out after the rat-eared wonder when he launched stuff like the “war on women.” Are you honestly suggesting that Newt, Santorum, or [snort] Ron Paul would have been able to win?

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 10:36 AM

I am shocked I tell you, absolutely shocked. The looming layoffs must be Bush’s fault. In the near term we should see a poll supporting that claim.

David in ATL on January 11, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Forward.

ROFLMFAO

DRayRaven on January 11, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Hot Air only has negative economic news because it feeds into the worldview of doom the economy because a democrat is president.

Stick to Bloomberg and CNBC for actual economic news.

Seven Seas on January 11, 2013 at 10:35 AM

What positive economic news? The uptick by half a percentage point that shills for the rat-eared wonder on Bloomberg or CNBC use to declare that the economy is booming and all our problems are solved. I would suggest it is you cheerleaders for mediocrity that need to get some perspective. Double digit unemployement, massive spending, and even more national debt are not good things no matter how much you hand puppets for the liberals want to paint them as super because we ONLY have 22% unemployment among young black males instead of 23%.

You truly are an idiot.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Unseen is a Palindrone.

DRayRaven on January 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM

The looming layoffs must be Bush’s fault. In the near term we should see a poll supporting that claim.

David in ATL on January 11, 2013 at 10:38 AM

No the looming layoffs, we will be told, are signs that the economy is improving. People out of work means that companies are getting serious again about efficiency which in the long run will create even more jobs. This is merely a burp in the booming Obama economic recovery.

You heard it here first.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Unseen is a Palindrone.

DRayRaven on January 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Oh! That explains a lot. Yeah, a woman that wasn’t even running would have been a far better candidate than Mitt Romney! LOL. I like Sarah Palin, I really do, but that doesn’t mean I think she’s Presidential material.

Despite what Romeny bashers want to claim, the election was very close. I find fault with Romney’s campaign strategy but not the candidate himself. IMO, he was the best choice of those running. For 2016 what the GOP really needs to start doing now is recruiting a new group of potential candidates instead of relying on the usual suspects. And I mean real candidates not bright shiny untested people like Rubio, Rand Paul, or Ted Cruz.

Happy Nomad on January 11, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Layoffs in the credit card industry? Thanks, Dodd Frank!

I know I use them rarely now that interest rates and fees have gone up.

PattyJ on January 11, 2013 at 10:52 AM

we may need to expect less

yep, this is the new normal…

RedInMD on January 11, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Can we call this the second half of the Double-Dip DEMpression now?

Steve Eggleston on January 11, 2013 at 11:12 AM

yay, banks firing ppl! it has to be a good thing!

nathor on January 11, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Hot Air only has negative economic news because it feeds into the worldview of doom the economy because a democrat is president.

Stick to Bloomberg and CNBC for actual economic news.

Seven Seas on January 11, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Yeah, I suppose you’re right. More people have jobs and money to spend on the LSM than they do here.

It’s like magic I tellya!

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 11, 2013 at 6:02 PM

Probably not a good idea to try to extrapolate these financial institution layoffs to an entire economy … everyone expects 4Q12 and 1Q13 numbers to be punk. The question is what happens after that. We’re sitting on a hell of lot of rocket fuel, and all we need is a spark for this thing to take off … more turbulence ahead, but we’re growing increasingly optimistic about the later part of this year … stay in …

TouchdownBuddha on January 11, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Ed, no legitimate conservative economist believes that a trade deficit is necessarily bad. That’s because the money necessarily comes back – mostly through investments, and also through tourism, etc. So, I don’t understand the “pessimism”.

Individual on January 12, 2013 at 10:15 AM