Comments on economics, mystery fiction, drama, and art.

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Surprising Lack of Change in Imports and Exports, 2012-2016

For reasons I can't quite remember, I was looking at US import and export data, and the following chart is what I found (at FRED) for US nominal (current dollar value) imports, monthly, from January 1992 through April 2016.

(Click to enlarge)

What I am primarily interested in is the 2012-2016 period.  Both exports and imports have not increased in any significant way in the past four years.  And, recently, both have declined.  The decline in exports is fairly easy  to explain--the dollar has increased in value--since January 2012, the trade-weighted value of the US dollar has increased by 22%.  By itself, this would tend to reduce US exports (which have, effectively, become more expensive) and increase US imports (which have, effectively, become cheaper).  But this has not happened.  I am only a dabbler in international trade, so I have no easy explanation. 

But an explanation would be nice to have.  (Interestingly, the national income accounts quarterly data don't look much like this, so having an explanation of that would also be nice.)