There are a number of signals that the US economy is getting weaker even as inflation gets stronger.
In other words, we are hurtling toward stagflation.
The April trade deficit came in at -$87B. This was the first time in 5 months that a new record had not been set (pink dot below). The Net Goods Deficit remained below -$100B for the fifth straight month. This Trade Deficit comes on the heels of an absolutely massive -$108B Deficit in March. It’s likely that some of the April deficit was counted in March, so expect a rebound in the May number.
The March trade deficit came in at -$110B. This obliterated the February record trade deficit of $90B. As the chart below shows, the trade deficit has set a record in each of the last 4 months. It was creeping upwards from -$80B to -$90B before exploding in the latest month.
Despite all the talk about a “strong economy,” nobody was expecting a blistering hot GDP for the first quarter. The consensus was for around a 1% gain. As it turned out, it was even worse than expected. GDP shrank in Q1, contracting by 1.4%.
Despite the awful number, the mainstream spun it as a positive. Peter Schiff called it an outrageous positive spin on negative GDP and a great example of Orwellian doublespeak.
The US continues to run massive trade deficits. Despite the lack of interest in the mainstream, trade deficits matter. And as Peter Schiff said last fall, we can’t just ignore these trade deficits forever.
February did not set a new monthly trade deficit record, but it was very close, and it was worse than projected.
January saw another record trade deficit.
The $89.7 billion deficit shattered the $82 billion record set in December by 9.4%! Before March 2021, the Trade Deficit monthly record had been set in August 2006 at -$68B. This record stood for nearly 15 years! Records are now being broken almost every single month.
Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic made an important admission during a CNBC interview. He confessed the Fed wasn’t really going all-in on the inflation fight. That raises a question: how is it going to tame the inflation monster? Peter Schiff talked about this admission during his podcast, along with a head-scratching article about the trade deficit in the Wall Street Journal.
In December 2021, the US ran up a total trade deficit of -$80.7 billion, just a tick shy of the record -$80.8 billion set in September. The Goods Deficit increased by 3.2% to come in at -$101.4B, eclipsing the -$100B mark for the first time ever.
This capped off a year in which the trade deficit shattered the record set back in 2006.
November 2021 charted a total trade deficit of -$80.2B just shy of the record -$81.4B in September. However, the data this month is far more concerning when digging into the details.
After a massive surge in the trade deficit occurred in September, October saw a big pullback to -$67.1B. The details showed that the volatility was driven by a data anomaly where Exported Goods from September were pulled into October. This created a series of Exported Goods values of $149.8B in August followed by $142.7B and $158.8B in September and October. Essentially, $8B moved from September to October, driving the trade deficit to all-time records.