Monday, April 24, 2006

Economist's View: Paul Krugman: CSI Trade Deficit

Economist's View: Paul Krugman: CSI Trade Deficit: "That's more or less what's going on right now among international finance experts. The crime in question is the U.S. trade deficit, which ... reached an amazing $805 billion last year. The mystery is how we've been able to run huge deficits ... with so few visible adverse consequences. And the future of the U.S. economy depends on which of two proposed solutions to the mystery is right.

Here's the puzzle: the trade deficit means that America is ... spending far more than it earns. ... To pay for the excess of imports over exports, the United States has ... borrowed more than $3 trillion just since 1999.


If Mr. Gros is right, the true position of the U.S. economy isn't as bad as you think — it's worse. The true trade deficit ... isn't $800 billion — it's more than $900 billion. And America's foreign debt ... is at least $1 trillion bigger than the official numbers say.

Of course, optimists have a comeback: if things are really that bad, why are so many foreign investors still buying U.S. bonds? ... But I have two words for those who place their faith in the judgment of investors...: Nasdaq 5,000.

Right now, forensic analysis seems to say that the U.S. trade position is worse, not better, than it looks. And the answer to the question, "Why haven't we paid a price for our trade deficit?" is, just you wait."

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