The U.S. trade deficit increased by 5.9% to $40.6 billion during the month of December, which was up $38.3 billion from the prior month. For the year 2010, the trade gap surged 43%, which was the biggest jump in a decade, as our government’s efforts to reignite consumer borrowing and spending led to a record number of imported consumer goods. For all of 2010, the trade gap climbed to $497.8 billion, up from $374.9 billion in 2009. The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending rose at an annual rate of 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2009. That increase—which was the biggest in four years—was led by a surge in imports and helped send the trade gap back onto its unsustainable trajectory.
Despite the fact that the U.S. dollar has fallen 8% since June of last year, the trade deficit has continued to widen. That’s because the inflation caused by a falling dollar has made it more expensive for foreigners to importer U.S. made goods—thus offsetting the increased purchasing power of their currencies. And, of course, the cost of U.S. imports has increased because there is no immediate domestically produced alternative to foreign made goods. Therefore, the U.S. trade imbalance continues to climb higher.
That economic truth ushers in the fear over how much wider the trade gap will grow once the dollar actually crashes, as it inevitable must. Why must it crash you ask? Simply because the U.S. is incapable of paying its debts without a massive dilution to the currency. Once the greenback loses its place as the world’s reserve currency, prices will skyrocket for our imported goods, thus sending many more dollars into foreign control. And send the red ink associated with our trade imbalance beyond the limits of what most economists could ever conceive to be possible. And before anybody tells you that a trade deficit isn't something to be concerned about, ask them if they don't mind selling a great proportion of the assets and the sovereignty of the nation to another country.
Michael Pento, Senior Economist at Euro Pacific Capital is a well-established specialist in the “Austrian School” of economics. He is a regular guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox Business, and other national media outlets and his market analysis can be read in most major financial publications, including the Wall Street Journal. Prior to joining Euro Pacific, Michael worked for a boutique investment advisory firm to create ETFs and UITs that were sold throughout Wall Street. Earlier in his career, he worked on the floor of the NYSE.