Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Collapse of Trade

The fall of 2008 marked a momentous turning point for world trade with the U.S. consumer pulling back so severely that imports to the U.S. essentially collapsed.

Our top four trading partners saw their exports to the U.S. decline anywhere from 20% to 50% almost overnight.

Since then though there has been a recovery of sorts.

Canada has seen a slight uptick in its exports of its petroleum products and other natural resources while China’s 2009 trade of consumer electronics and other finished consumer products more or less matched its performance in 2006.

Mexico’s 2009 trade of crude oil, motor vehicles and electronic components also essentially matched their 2006 performance while Japan’s trade of motor vehicles, auto parts, industrial machinery and other finished consumer goods remains mired down at levels not seen since the early 2000s.

Was the weakness of 2008 and early 2009 simply a blip in an otherwise robust and expanding climate of global trade or did it mark the entry into a longer period of adjustment as U.S. consumers continue to retrench in the face of difficult economic times?