Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Just how incompetent is the Trump administration? They were unable to find countries where the US has a trade surplus.

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Maybe they are simply stone ignorant and don’t now how to use research tools? They don’t know which departments to ask for the information? They didn’t think to call the Washington Post, in which Jeff Guo offers a helpful chart? This is the chart:

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I don’t know: the Trump administration’s performance so far gives me a better idea of why Trump had so many bankruptcies and couldn’t even make an Atlantic City casino profitable.

Jeff Guo writes:

At a meeting Thursday with the country’s top manufacturing executives, President Trump made a puzzling statement about trade. “We don’t have any good deals. In fact, I am trying to find a country where we actually have a surplus — surplus of trade. Everything is a deficit,” he said. “I actually said to my people: Find a country where we actually do well. So far, we haven’t found that country.”

Data from his own federal agencies tell a much different story. This chart shows the top 15 countries with which we run a trade surplus in goods. At the head of the list are Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium and Australia.

These are not obscure places. Just last week, the Trump Organization opened a golf club in the United Arab Emirates. In the early 1990s, Trump visited Hong Kong to ask a group of Chinese billionaires to help rescue him from bankruptcy. And on the campaign trail last year, Trump once called Belgium a “beautiful city.” (It’s a country.)

Since the president has widely complained about trade deals hurting the manufacturing sector, it’s also worth focusing there. This chart show the top 15 countries where the United States is running a trade surplus specifically in manufactured goods — stuff like cars and machinery and plastics, but not agricultural goods or minerals like wheat or oil.

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Our neighbor to the north tops this list, with a trade surplus of $42 billion.  In 2016, the United States sold about $210 billion worth of manufactured goods to Canada, while importing only $167 billion.

Canada doesn’t show up on the other list because we import a lot of oil and gas from up north. Thanks to that, we run a slight trade deficit in goods — about $11 billion in 2016. But remember, that difference is just a small fraction of the overall volume of trade between the United States and Canada. In 2016, we sent $267 billion worth of stuff across the border and imported about $278 billion.

So far, we’ve only looked at trade in goods because that’s what most people think of when they talk about trade — stuff zipping around the world on trucks and boats and planes. But more and more these days, trade also involves services.

Think of American banks and insurance agencies doing business with foreign clients; American consulting firms helping foreign companies; and Hollywood selling movies abroad. When foreign visitors spend money in the United States, that tourism cash also counts as an export.

Services are a big export sector for the United States: In 2016, the nation ran a $750 billion trade deficit in goods but a $250 billion trade surplus in services. . .

Continue reading. More at the link, including a chart and a video.

Trump’s massive ignorance seems to have infected his administration. This is not looking good.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 February 2017 at 2:05 pm

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