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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. trade balance fell to a deficit of $63.6 billion in July, $10 billion larger than the month before, and the biggest monthly deficit since July 2008.

Why it matters: The spike in the trade deficit comes despite President Trump's trade war with China and tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of imports from China, Europe and other countries, as well as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which went into effect this year.

  • The increase between the deficit in July 2016 and July 2020 is "especially notable given the drop in trade flows related to the COVID-19 pandemic," liberal think tank Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach said in a statement.
  • "Comparing the trade flows in the first seven months of 2019 to the same period in 2020, U.S. trade has decreased 15%."

By the numbers: The $340 billion trade deficit in the first seven months of 2020 is 12.2% higher than during the same period in 2016.

  • The trade deficit with China was $3 billion more on the month at $31.6 billion.
  • The deficit with Europe also increased $3 billion from the prior month, to $23.1 billion.
  • The July 2020 surplus in services trade was the smallest since August 2012, at $17.4 billion.

But, but, but: While much of Trump's foreign policy has seemed driven by an intolerance for trade deficits, they are not necessarily bad for the economy.

Go deeper

Global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 7% in 2020

Water vapor from the cooling towers of a power plant in Brandenburg, Germany, in November 2020. Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Global carbon dioxide emissions fell by an estimated 7% in 2020, according to a study by the Global Carbon Project published in the journal Earth System Science Data on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's likely the largest fall in carbon emission ever recorded and is largely the result of the coronavirus pandemic keeping people at home.

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.