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Data: Census Bureau via FRED, BEA via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. trade and current account deficits are at their deepest level since 2008.

Why it matters: America's underwater trade position was one of the defining complaints of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and the Trump administration has spent the past four years waging trade wars in a futile or even counterproductive attempt to turn it around.

By the numbers: America's trade deficit was $63 billion in October, according to the Census Bureau, while the broader current account was in deficit to the tune of $179 billion in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The big picture: The main reason for the weakness of the dollar is just that America is shipping a lot of money overseas to pay for goods and services from abroad. Meanwhile, the coronavirus has cratered demand from foreigners for everything from aircraft to American vacations.

  • Even after the coronavirus recedes, however, the weak dollar is probably here to stay. The main thing that would reverse the trend would be rate hikes from the Federal Reserve, and Fed chair Jay Powell has made it clear that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

The bottom line: The trade deficit is in many ways a sign of strength — an indication that the world is eager to sell us trillions of dollars worth of valuable goods and services, in return for nothing but greenbacks. But it still counts as a major policy failure for the Trump administration.

Go deeper

Biden to overturn Trump order excluding undocumented immigrants from census

Biden speaking in New Castle, Delaware, on Jan. 19. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Biden will sign an executive order Wednesday to revoke the Trump administration’s plan to exclude non-citizens from the census and apportionment of Congressional representatives.

The state of play: The order aims to ensure the Census Bureau has ample time to complete an accurate population count for each state, and introduce an apportionment that is deemed fair and accurate to Congress so that federal resources are efficiently and fairly distributed.

VA first federal agency to require COVID vaccines for employees

A medical doctor gives the thumbs-up sign to a COVID-19 patient who is no longer using a respirator at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday it would require its frontline health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus within the next two months, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The VA is the first federal agency to mandate that employees receive the vaccine. The decision comes as cases of the Delta variant in the U.S. have increased dramatically.

3 hours ago - Health

Biden: Americans with long-COVID symptoms may qualify for disability resources

President Biden speaking in Arlington, Virginia, on July 23. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 may qualify for disability resources from the federal government, President Biden announced Monday during an event to mark the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Driving the news: The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services released new guidance Monday that categorizes “long COVID" as a physical or mental impairment, entitling people with the illness to discrimination protections under the the ADA.