Mar 7, 2017

The U.S. trade deficit is close to a five-year high

The U.S. trade deficit reached a near five-year high in January, with the U.S. importing $48.5 billion more than it exported. The trade deficit tends to expand when the economy grows more quickly, so it's not surprising that we're seeing higher deficits amid brisk hiring and higher corporate profits.

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Why it matters: Both exports and imports are on the rise, but imports are rising more quickly, reflecting a rebound in domestic demand. The White House has made shrinking the trade deficit a high priority, but it's difficult to see how it can slow the growth of imports without a significant intervention, like the border-adjusted tax, that will anger companies and customers who facilitate and demand those imports.

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