Trade Deficit in Goods and Services Declines 15.2% as Imports Dive

Mike Mish Shedlock

The trade deficit declined sharply in March. The results were widely anticipated becaue of the Advance Numbers on Goods.

The Census Bureau's report on International Trade in Goods and Services for March shows a steep, but expected drop in the trade deficit.


  • March exports were $208.5 billion, $4.2 billion more than February exports.
  • March imports were $257.5 billion, $4.6 billion less than February imports.
  • The March decrease in the goods and services deficit reflected a decrease in the goods deficit of $7.5 billion to $69.5 billion and an increase in the services surplus of $1.3 billion to $20.5 billion.
  • Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $25.5 billion, or 18.5 percent, from the same period in 2017. Exports increased $39.2 billion or 6.8 percent. Imports increased $64.7 billion or 9.1 percent.

GDP Impact

These numbers are for the first quarter and will have little or no impact on GDP either for the first of second quarter. The advance numbers came out before GDP and were reflected in the advance GDP estimate.


Imports fell sharply. Foreign cars likely at the center of it.

There are two ways to spin this.

  1. Hooray, Trump is winning
  2. Oops, the consumer is weakening

We can safely rule out number one, but people will try. In regards to number two, it's a good thing consumers finally appear to be throwing in the towel, but economists will not see it that way.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (5)
No. 1-5

So long as the consumer begins to address debt and isn't so exhausted they can neither consume nor address debt. Any figures on consumer debt trends?


Exports were more and imports were less. So it is working out as Trump wanted it to. At least so far. I know what you Wall St types will cry about and I know that it is a trade war ONLY when we fight back. Not when it is being waged on us (as has been for the last 40 years).


Cannot be Trump winning a war that hasn't started yet ...


Wrong. The war has been waged on the US ever since the dawn of Reaganomics almost 40 years ago. What has started is the fighting back.


Exports up or exports of bullion up? Is there a golden Halo to the falling trade deficit?

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