Ben Margot / AP
Like many Americans, President Trump sees the US trade deficit as an urgent issue – a symbol of the US economic decline.
"Whatever it is, it is the biggest deficit in a country's history in the history of our world, it's out of control," Trump said earlier this month when he introduced tariffs on Chinese imports in the White House announced.
Most economists from different political strata are less concerned about the trade gap $ 568 billion last year
"I do not think it's a problem for the US to have a big trade deficit," says Veronique de Rugy, Senior researcher at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University.
The United States buy many products from other countries, from oil and chemicals to footwear and automobiles, and if so, then it pays for them in dollars, she notes. As a result, countries such as China and Japan accumulate huge amounts of US currency.
These countries must exchange these dollars for something, and for a long time they have used them to buy US assets, such as stocks, real estate and treasury bills
"Every dollar we send in exchange for goods comes In a sense, it's a win-win situation for the US, "de Rugy says.
Bilateral trade deficits – like last year's $ 375 billion US goods gap with China – are even less important, says Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve governor and professor of economics.
"You & # 39; I now have a very large bilateral trade surplus with my employer, Princeton University, who gives me a paycheck, and I buy almost nothing from the university," says Blinder.
"I have a bilateral shortfall with the supermarket, where I buy a lot of food and they do not buy anything from me." That's the way trade goes. "Blinder says trade deficits could become a problem when foreigners suddenly stopped working want to invest a country. That's exactly what happened to Greece.
"If it can be a problem, if the rest of the world decides you are not as good at credit risk," says Blinder. Emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art…7805 & lang = DE Foreign investors, for example, continue to shovel money into US public debt, which is what happened leads to a long period of low interest rates and they are big buyers of US real estate and stocks.
The specter of foreigners buying up US real estate could upset many Americans who see it as economic control over the country's assets. But it should not, says Rugy.
"I'm a Frenchman, and I can tell you those fears in France too," she says. "I remember the rage that the Japanese bought our locks, it just never happened that it will change the country, that it puts us in danger, it actually does not happen. "
And with the US English: www.mjfriendship German: emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 157 & lang = DE The government needs more debt every year, it needs the money that foreign investors offer. English: emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/art … = 120 & lang = en.
"We should be glad that there are countries willing to lend us money at a lower price, because if that were not the case the interest on the debt we pay would be much higher, and that would mean that a larger part of what the government spends on interest payments is, "she says.
But Celeste Drake, specialist in trade and global politics at the AFL-CIO, is more skeptical about US trade policy.
Economists have been promising lavish promises over trade agreements such as NAFTA for years, saying that trade makes US companies more productive, that they can sell more products abroad and wage work domestically.
Instead, the trade deficit has continued and many have wages Workers stagnate or worse, says Drake. It is reasonable to ask how long this can go on without harming the economy, she says.
"Here we have to say," Why do not we reconsider the policies that we have introduced? Why not? we start to look at this trade deficit, which we have ignored for more than 30 years, and try to figure out how to tackle it? "" Drake says.