The U.S. December 2016 monthly trade deficit decreased 3.2% from last month and now stands at $44.3 billion. For all of 2016, the trade deficit increased 0.4% from the year previous. While that doesn't sound like much, the total amount is -$502.3 billion. This is in spite of petroleum imports being much less of a trade deficit factor. China alone is almost half of the trade deficit. While pundits proclaim Trump will start a trade war, with these kind of figures, surely that war is long over and America obviously surrendered.
Graphed below are imports and exports graphed and by volume since 1995 and note the global trade collapse in 2009. For the year the goods trade deficit decreased by -1.6% to $750.1 billion while the services surplus shrank by -5.5% to be $247.8 billion. Imports are in maroon and exports are shown in blue, both scaled to the left.
Below are the goods import monthly changes, seasonally adjusted. On a Census basis, overall imports increased by $3.7 billion to $187.241 billion. Passenger car imports was $1.351 billion more in just a month to $15.3 billion. Imported passenger cars now exceeds crude oil imports, which were slightly over $10 billion.
- Industrial supplies and materials: +$1.092 billion
- Capital goods: +$0.982 billion
- Foods, feeds, and beverages: -$0.157 billion
- Automotive vehicles, parts, and engines: -$1.617 billion
- Consumer goods: +$0.142 billion
- Other goods: -$0.291 billion
Below is the list of good export monthly changes, seasonally adjusted, by end use and on a Census accounting basis, increased by $4.933 billion to $126.581 billion. The reason for the good showing is an almost two billion dollar increase in aircraft and aircraft engines exports.
- Automotive vehicles, parts, and engines: +$0.167 billion
- Industrial supplies and materials: +$0.731 billion
- Foods, feeds, and beverages: -$0.095 billion
- Capital goods: +$3,332 billion
- Consumer goods: +$0.722 billion
- Other goods: +$0.618 billion
The China trade deficit is always the largest trade deficit of any other nation by a long shot. December saw a seasonally adjusted $30.192 billion China trade deficit The China trade deficit for 2016 actually decreased $20.1 billion due to $20.4 billion less in imports. but it is still a massive $347 billion. This is 47% of the total goods trade deficit. The annual 2015 the trade deficit with China was $367.2 billion. The below graph shows monstrous annual trade deficit with China.
In real dollars, or adjusted for inflation, the goods trade deficit on a Census basis decreased by -$1.56 billion to -$62.308 billion. The trade deficit continues to gobble up the U.S. economy. Real valued trade figures are part of GDP. Annually, the trade deficit was 2.7% of GDP in 2016. In 2015 the trade deficit was 2.8%.
Oil or real valued petroleum trade deficit has just plummeted and is now a monthly -$9.495 billion for December. This is a drop of 9.5% from November. Real means the balance figures are adjusted prices using chained 2009 dollars so inflation is not in the mix. Not seasonally adjusted a barrel of crude was $41.45 and barrels for the month were 238,333.
If we take the real valued end use of petroleum versus non-petroleum of the goods trade deficit, we see petroleum as a percentage of the trade deficit continues to plunge. One thing is clear as a trend, petroleum is less and less of a trade deficit issue. Below is a graph of petroleum end use deficit as a percentage of the goods trade balance and this breakdown is by the Census accounting method and in 2009 chained dollars.
If the Trump administration gets serious on bad trade deals, there should be movement in the trade figures. That said, this is pretty awful, so honestly, how could it get much worse? It could instead get better. Here are other trade deficit overviews, data unrevised.