U.S. Trade Reaches Two-Year High in November

by: Mark J. Perry

According to today's BEA report, total U.S. trade with the rest of the world (sales of U.S. products to consumers and firms in other countries PLUS purchases of foreign production by American consumers and businesses) reached $357.6 billion in November, the highest level in more than two years. Total trade in November was the highest level of total U.S. trade since October 2008, and is more than $100 billion and 45.4% above the April 2009 cyclical low of $246 billion (see chart above). This also makes the fourth consecutive month of total international trade above the $350 billion level in December 2007, when the recession started.
Further, the combined international trade volume for U.S. buyers and sellers has increased in 14 out of the last 18 months (following ten consecutive declines), providing further evidence that the economy started on a recovery path last summer and continues to make solid gains almost every month. Both the sales of U.S. goods and services produced by American firms and sold to the rest of the world, and the purchases of foreign-produced goods and services by American consumers and firms, have been on an upward trend as the U.S. and global economies recover.
First Trust economists Brian Wesbury and Bob Stein are now predicting that net exports alone in the fourth quarter will add more than three percentage points to real GDP growth, resulting in a "blowout real GDP report of 5% to 6%" for QIV 2010.