Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Do we buy stuff from Countries OR do we buy stuff from people? Here is a different look at US trade numbers.

Trade numbers are published on a national level---comparing country to country. No problem with that, but here is another way to frame the numbers.

We trade with the actual, real live citizens of the respective country. They buy our stuff and we buy theirs.

So, how do the national trade numbers look when we quantify them on a per person basis?

Below is a graphic I created to show the US trade balance with the Top 10 (plus the EU Area) trade partners as a balance nationally (yellow) and on a per person (capita) basis.

I took the value of US exports to the respective country and divided it by the population of that country. This gives the dollar value of US goods on per person basis the person bought. I then took the value of imports from a country and divided it by the US population. This gives the dollar value of the foreign goods US citizens bought. The difference between the two numbers gives a per person SURPLUS of DEFICIT in trade between the countries.

Notice nationally the US has trade DEFICITS with all trading partners, except the UK.  But if we look at it on a per person basis, we have trade deficits with only 3 countries (the EU as a whole, China, and India).

In other words, for the most part, in trade the US citizens buy less from foreigners than they buy from us---we run person to person trade SURPLUSES.  Only with the relatively poor countries of China and India do we buy more from them then they buy from us.

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