Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Jumping for Joy

Along with the "good" employment numbers comes "good" trade numbers. Hold on to your hats. The trade deficit went down...slightly...last month. Whoopee.

Let's take a closer look.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the gap between what the United States imports and what it sells to foreign countries narrowed by 9.2 percent in March to $54.99 billion, down from the record monthly deficit of $60.57 billion set in February.

Goody gum drops. Of course, if this were just last year, March's numbers would have been called "the highest ever".

Even with the big improvement in March, the deficit through the first three months of this year is still running at an annual rate of $696 billion, 12.8 percent higher than the $617.08 billion record set for all of 2004. Critics say the widening trade gap demonstrates the failure of the Bush administration's free trade policies.

Thank you, "critics" whoever you are. We wish the WP would give these good people names and faces. I want to shake their collective hands.

The March improvement reflected a 1.5 percent increase in exports of U.S. goods and services, which rose to an all-time high of $102.2 billion, the fourth straight monthly record. The March improvement reflected gains in a wide range of products from commercial aircraft and telecommunications equipment to farm products and< art work

Art work? This is interesting. Evidently, we are selling off anything moveable, aren't we? The commercial aircraft stuff is watched closely by this newsletter since it is nearly entirely driven by politics and diplomatic deal making. Some of these "sales" caused us tremendous diplomatic harm. This drove India into China's arms. Indeed, this is a great deal of "military/industrial complex stuff. Nearly all the "sales" are actually loans courtesy of our ever generous government which partially explains the bad news posted here earlier today. We really are not balancing the books at all. None of our books. If the government to government "sales" are excluded, things look significantly worse since these "sales" are about $30 to $50 billion!

While the deficit with China was lower last month, the deficit with Japan shot up by 14.1 percent to $7.83 billion. The deficit with Canada declined by 12.5 percent to $5.05 billion but the deficit with Mexico, the other partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, surged by 16.1 percent to $4.26 billion. The deficit with the 25-nation European Union was up 9.9 percent to $9.31 billion.

Culture of Life News seems to be the only news service in America which has noted for the last month the startling fact that Japan has played with the relative value of the yen to artificially inflate the American dollar and not only didn't the dollar drop to 99 yen or less as we said it should, it went up in value to 107+yen. This wasn't accidental. Since Condi tried to use Japan as our cat's paw in Asia, which this blog detailed exruciatingly, the deal was the USA would remain silent and inert as Japan improves their position with us concerning relative currency values and imports. So their imports shot up and our dollar did, too.

This is killing us but evidently we don't care, do we?

The "art" we are selling is a sign we are divesting ourselves of cultural artifacts. Selling off whatever can't be nailed down. Valuables streaming out of the country. Certainly, we are not producing great works of modern art that is in high demand elsewhere.

But critics charge that these free trade deals primarily benefit U.S. corporations who are able to shut their U.S. manufacturing plants and move production to low wage countries with free trade deals and then shipment the finished goods back to the United States duty free.

This argument is expected to intensify in coming weeks as the administration tries to round up enough votes to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement covering six Latin American countries. The leaders of those nations, in an unprecedented move, were on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby as a group for votes to pass the measure.

Oh those anonymous "critics"! They seem legion yet we have no idea who they are. I certainly want to know. This "critics" part is like 'sources say". A clue: "critics" usually are Democrats and "sources say" are usually Republicans. See?

Meanwhile, back in reality land:

A bankruptcy judge last night approved United Airlines' request to terminate its pension plans, clearing the way for the largest corporate pension default in history and setting the stage for a possible strike by the airline's flight attendants.

The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will take over the airline's $645 million in pension payments and receive in exchange up to $1.5 billion in securities in the reorganized airline.

As more unions go under, the new, cheaper, upstart airlines have no obligations thus no need to worry, everyone just falls off the economic cliff when they is Ford and GM. When these unionized giants fall, and they are doomed, this will collapse the pension insurance fund and all those poor workers will retire with the same benefits as Enron's employees enjoy. Nothing. But then, the voters in many of these industries voted for tax cuts over and over again. They loved Ronnie Reagan despite his open union busting. They wanted cheap loans and tax cuts.

The old Chinese curse: may your wishes come true.


Thanks to rtalcott's comment. Good chart.

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