GEORGE: (after a moment's thought) Art Vandelay.
ELAINE: (incredulity) Art Vandelay? This is my boyfriend?
GEORGE: That's your boyfriend.
ELAINE: What does he do?
GEORGE: He's an importer.
ELAINE: Just imports? No exports?
GEORGE: (getting irritated) He's an importer-exporter. Okay?
The staggering U.S. trade deficit finally begins to re-align in the final quarter of last year under the impact of the financial crisis:
The Commerce Department reported today that the trade deficit narrowed to $40.4 billion in November, a 28.7 percent decline from October's deficit of $56.7 billion. The bigger-than-expected decrease left the deficit at its lowest level since November 2003.
The trade deficit through November is running at an annual rate of $688.2 billion, down from the 2007 imbalance of $700.3 billion. The 2007 deficit had represented the first decline after five years of record highs.
I'm taking a course in the law surrounding international trade, finance, and banking this semester, so it's very interesting to see the long train of growing annual deficits in the Clinton and Bush years (which my professor, probably rightly, calls unsustainable) reverse course. The plunge in U.S. imports from China is the most interesting aspect to me:
The politically sensitive deficit with China shrank by 17.5 percent to $23.1 billion in November, the smallest imbalance since June. The big drop reflected a record decline in imports from China as shipments of consumers goods, from cell phones to toys and clothing, all fell. U.S. exports to China also were down sharply, reflecting smaller shipments of metals, computers and aircraft.
While it seems there is little shifting to American-made goods - the economy is languishing generally - my question is: how long until a continued drop in U.S. imports from China begins to create domestic political problems in China?
Much of the present Chinese leadership remains in power because economic prosperity has rolled along and increased for years now - acting as the bread and circus necessary to prevent a true push on political reform. As the U.S. appetite for imports decreases, how will the leadership prevent destabilization of the current arrangement as the populace meets the financial crisis?