Trump Won't Be Happy: US Records Biggest Trade Deficit In 5 Years

Tyler Durden's picture

In a report that will be closely scrutinized - and criticized - by the trade-sensitive Trump administration, today the Department of Commerce announced that the January trade deficit surged in January 2017, jumping from $44.3 billion in December (revised) to $48.5 billion in January, in line with expectations, as imports increased more than exports.This was the biggest trade deficit going back to early 2012.

The previously published December deficit was $44.3 billion. The goods deficit increased $4.0 billion in January to $69.7 billion. The services surplus decreased $0.3 billion in January to $21.2 billion.

The January increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $4.0 billion to $69.7 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of $0.3 billion to $21.2 billion. Year-over-year, the goods and services deficit increased $5.1 billion, or 11.8 percent, from January 2016. Exports increased $13.3 billion or 7.4 percent. Imports increased $18.4 billion or 8.3 percent.

The details, first exports

  • Exports of goods and services increased $1.1 billion, or 0.6 percent, in January to $192.1 billion. Exports of goods increased $1.1 billion and exports of services decreased less than $0.1 billion.
    • The increase in exports of goods mostly reflected increases in industrial supplies and materials ($2.1 billion) and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($1.3 billion). A decrease in capital goods ($1.9 billion) was partly offsetting.
    • The decrease in exports of services reflected nearly offsetting changes of $0.1 billion or less in all categories.

Next, Imports

  • Imports of goods and services increased $5.3 billion, or 2.3 percent, in January to $240.6 billion. Imports of goods increased $5.1 billion and imports of services increased $0.2 billion.
    • The increase in imports of goods mostly reflected increases in consumer goods ($2.4 billion), in industrial supplies and materials ($1.0 billion), and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.9 billion).
    • The increase in imports of services mostly reflected an increase in transport ($0.2 billion), which includes freight and port services and passenger fares.

On a geographic basis, the January figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with Hong Kong ($3.5), South and Central America ($3.1), Singapore ($1.2), and Brazil ($0.7).

Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China ($30.2), European Union ($13.4), Germany ($5.7), Mexico ($5.5), Japan ($5.5), Italy ($2.4), OPEC ($2.4), South Korea ($2.3), Canada ($2.0), India ($1.9), France ($1.6), United Kingdom ($0.9), Taiwan ($0.9), and Saudi Arabia ($0.9).

  • The balance with Saudi Arabia shifted from a surplus of $0.4 billion to a deficit of $0.9 billion in January. Exports decreased $0.6 billion to $1.2 billion and imports increased $0.6 billion to $2.0 billion.
  • The deficit with Mexico increased $1.0 billion to $5.5 billion in January. Exports decreased $0.2 billion to $20.5 billion and imports increased $0.8 billion to $26.0 billion.

* * *

It is likely that in his first trade-related moves, Trump will focus on the countries in bold above, as he seeks to reverse what was the worst trade deficit print in five years.

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A. Boaty's picture

Not happy? Who does a better job going into debt?

GlassHouse101's picture

who cares? If the world wants our funny money, and we get all their fine products, the joke's on them. 

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

The world is already starting to transition away from our monopoly money.  The joke is on everyone but the tribe.

new game's picture

works til the jig is up. 10 years at best. 2026, the year to mark on the calendar...

2 1/2 prez terms, chaos....

JTimchenko's picture

Bad for jobs and overall nat'l security to have China etc. making everything we use regardless of whether they are willing to accept our funny money.

Jason T's picture

We reap what we sow.  We buy cheap chinese made shit and they use our dollars we sent them to buy our land, real estate, utilities and companies.  

Like Jack Ma buying 28,000 acres of land in upstate NY's Adirondacks.


Benito_Camela's picture

There's a Chinese dude named Jack? Jack Mi Ahf? 

max_leering's picture

Walmart, Walgreens, Target, et al, don't give a good rat's ass if the trade deficit is higher... where's my cheap shit?... coming from where?... China and India and Mexico?... where are they?... I'm geometrically challenged... hey Wally World, you got my GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip?

ejmoosa's picture

A strong dollar and a recessionary economy  that is still fueled by the Fed Reserve and credit will do that.

PoasterToaster's picture
PoasterToaster (not verified) Mar 7, 2017 9:27 AM

Tariffs will fix that shit in one day.  If it needs fixing.

BigFatUglyBubble's picture

One day?!  It takes year to build factories and train employees.  Adam Smith and Hoover proved Tariffs don't work to boost economy. 

ejmoosa's picture

We do not actually train employees any longer.  We hire them with the skills.

That's why the Chamber has been so adamant to keep the foreign workers flowing into the US.


barysenter's picture

Tell that to Xi. Scumbags they were, but Lincoln & Grant proved they do work to protect domestic markets. That was the biggest real growth period in US history.

Trade Guru's picture


It looks like the only way this can fly is having the U.S Dollar fall hard.

Smedley's picture

Obungler is not able to cook the books anymore!!


The more REAL numbers....

Fake Trump's picture

I will make America GREAT again. LOL. 

nevertheless's picture

Trump is making "Israel great again", as if this is any surprise to anyone who does not buy into the total BULL SHIT right vs left narrative so carefully crafted in the US.


Trump is a Zionist piece of treasonous shit, just like Obama and Bush. Some day Americans will wake up to the fact that all this media hype, all these "Obama leaks", "Russian hacking", are all just a big play to distract and fill the void of REAL NEWS.

rejected's picture

Here's a situation you find a lot in politics.

Now this was known before Mr. Trumps election. I don't care where Ivanka has her line of shoes made, I'm just tired of the hypocrisy..... from everyone. 

The internationalists have  decided it is too expensive to operate here. They don't want to share,,, thus the bare wages and benefits given the foreign workers, and the quest for automation regardless of cost. 

Most Americans don't want production in the US because they want everything as cheap as possible. One can hear their cry every time tariffs are mentioned or if they learn of Americans somewhere earning decent wages and benefits,,, and they too cheer on automation hoping to get a product or service 'cheaper'. Many of working age are perfectly happy to sit at home drawing a gov. stipend. The quest for government free stuff is so great even Obama Care cannot be repealed.

The hypocrisy force in America is strong and I have no clue what could break it other than possibly a complete global economic meltdown.

TeethVillage88s's picture

What is the Bottom Line?

What other Methods could be used to calculate the Trade Problem, Current Account Deficit, Total Trade Deficit?

The Economist has NEGATIVE $750 Billion Trade Balance for the USSA (Union of Soviet Socialist America).

Trade balance Current-account balance Currency units Budget balance Interest rates
Country latest 12 months, $bn latest 12 months, $bn % of GDP, 2016* Feb 16th, per $ year ago, per $ % of GDP 2016* 3-month latest 10-year government bonds, latest
United States -750.1Dec


PBGC paid out 72.8 Billion in last 16 years for Pension Deficits. Yet no Discussion in MSM. Currently the Budget for PBGC is $6 Billion a year and it pays this out in total. It has operated in the red after 2009 Financial Crisis at least a few years.


BLS historical data from CPS-survey shows weekly earnings the same in 1979 as 2017.

- Weekly and hourly earnings data from the Current Population Survey

- Series Id: LEU0252881600

- Series title: (unadj)- Constant (1982-84) dollar adjusted to CPI-U- Median usual weekly earnings, Employed full time, Wage and salary workers

Year Qtr1 Qtr2 Qtr3 Qtr4 Annual
1979 339 334 325 328 332
1980 324 314 315 317 318
1981 317 311 304 314 312
2012 337 335 329 336 335
2013 334 333 330 337 333
2014 339 328 332 338
2015 344 337 337 348
2016 350 343 343 351

Constant Dollars, Weekly Earning same in 1979 as 2014.

Edit: added 2015 & 2016

This link

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey (Historical Data, Table 2, constant dollars, all workers)

SheepDog-One's picture

What do we make to trade other than debt?

Iconoclast's picture

Profound and spot on in equal measures.

Dominus Ludificatio's picture

According to wall street ,deficits mean the economy is growing.What they really mean ,that if it is good for them it should be good for everyone. Tweeting or looking for scapegoats is not going to fix anything.

silverer's picture

As a manufacturer, and on the advice of FedEx, I looked into US Commercial Services. After Obama started his first term they were directed to work to increase exports. Eight years later, Obama's legacy doesn't look so good on exports. I subscribed to the e-mail. A good number of them had dead links leading to 404 pages. One actually arrived with a computer virus attached to it. Basically, instead of helping a small business get into the line of exporting, they were way more concerned with export compliance, always including warnings about if you don't follow every rule and comply, we may seize your shipment, etc.. Basically a threat generating organization, and offering ways to spend your money by attending seminars in big cities on the other side of the country to learn more about "compliance". Lucky you, you get to spend $169.00 a night for the room and then pay for the seminar as well so you can be "compliant". No wonder US exports aren't all that great. The US gov takes all the profit out of it. So if you are not a medium to large business, skip the export dream unless you have a rich uncle. (And it won't be "Uncle Sam")

Iconoclast's picture

And, if like in the uk, a huge proportion of the exports are classed as finance and financial services, then the data is even worse in reality, but we don't like reality.

An economy 80% dependent on the consumer dollar, and the consumers' dollar wages are stuck back in the 1980's in real terms, is no foundation on which to build middle America's recovery.

Elco the Constitutionalist's picture
Elco the Constitutionalist (not verified) Mar 7, 2017 11:31 AM

Does no one understand thermodynamics or even just arithmetic?

Our number 1 export is our wealth. Our number 1 import is tyranny.

barysenter's picture

These are still Obama's policies and taxes and crimes under the shield of State. Trump is only going to look greater putting out of Obama Clinton's sand trap.