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The August trade deficit - a closed watched number in a time of trade wars - came in at $53.2BN, fractionally better than the $53.6BN expected, but 6.4% worse than last month's revised print of $50.0BN ($46.8BN excluding petroleum), and just shy of a new all time high.

The deficit deteriorated as a result of less exports (-0.8%) and more imports (+0.6%). Broken down, August exports were $209.4 billion, $1.7 billion less than July exports, while July imports were $262.7 billion, $1.6 billion more than July. August imports of goods (excluding services) of $215.6 billion were the highest on record

The August increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $3.6 billion to $76.7 billion and an increase in the services surplus of $0.4 billion to $23.5 billion. Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $31.0 billion, or 8.6 percent, from the same period in 2017. Exports increased $129.6 billion or 8.4 percent. Imports increased $160.6 billion or 8.4 percent.

Some notable highlights from the report:

  • August exports of services ($70.5 billion) were the highest on record.
  • August imports of goods and services ($262.7 billion) were the highest on record.
  • August imports of goods ($215.6 billion) were the highest on record.

Digging into the numbers, even more records were revealed:

  • August imports of industrial supplies and materials ($49.7 billion) were the highest since December 2014 ($51.8 billion).
  • August imports of automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($31.7 billion) were the highest on record.
  • August imports of other goods ($9.1 billion) were the highest on record.
  • August petroleum imports ($20.5 billion) were the highest since December 2014 ($23.6 billion).

But what was most important is the geographic distribution of trade, and this is where Trump will be displeased because in July the trade deficit with both China ($36.8 billion)...

... and while the trade deficit with the EU rebounded from last month's record high ($17.6 billion), to $15.7BN, the US also posted a record trade deficit with Mexico ($8.7BN) and Ireland ($4.3BN).

While this number will not have much of an impact on Q3 GDP, it could have a major impact on future trade because if Trump wanted one more "reason" to expand China's tariffs to all Chinese imports, he just got it.