China Posts Near Record Trade Surplus, Unemployment Surges

Written by SK Ashby

With six full days remaining in Trump's term in office, all of the tariffs he imposed prior to "phase one" of his "biggest and greatest deal ever" are still on the books. Americans are still paying higher prices for a very wide variety of things ranging from solar panels to baby cribs and water hoses, but we have nothing to show for it except our current economic conditions which aren't great.

Despite Trump's best (worst?) efforts to inflict pain on China's economy to pump up our own, virtually none of those efforts has succeeded. Trump did not even manage to reduce American demand for foreign goods which is actually higher than it's ever been.

China posted a new-record trade surplus during Trump's final year in office and that includes a nearly 8 percent increase in exports to the United States which was a record.

BEIJING (AP) — China’s exports rose in 2020 despite pressure from the coronavirus and a tariff war with Washington, boosting its politically volatile trade surplus to $535 billion, one of the highest ever reported.

Exports increased 3.6% over 2019 to $2.6 trillion, an improvement on the previous year’s 0.5% gain, customs data showed Thursday. Imports edged down 1.1% to just over $2 trillion, but growth was strong in the second half after China became the first major economy to revive following the pandemic.

Exports to the United States rose 7.9% over 2019 to $45.2 billion despite tariff hikes on most Chinese goods by the Trump administration in a feud with Beijing over technology and security.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, initial claims for unemployed surged back above 1 million last week when unadjusted for seasonal factors.

Initial jobless claims in regular state programs rose by 181,000 to 965,000 in the week ended Jan. 9, according to Labor Department data Thursday that showed a broad number of states with large increases. On an unadjusted basis, the figure jumped to 1.15 million.

The scope of the increase caught many economists by surprise; most of the several dozen surveyed by Bloomberg projected the claims number would be little changed and not a single one of them had predicted so big a jump.

Unemployment isn't in the current state that it is because of Trump's trade war (that would be Trump's deliberate choice to ignore the coronavirus) but it didn't help.

Trump's economic recession began in February of 2020 before we shut down any part of our economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Our economy was already weakened by Trump's trade war and the pandemic finished us off.

Ending Trump's trade war is crucial to building an equitable economic recovery rather than one fueled only by stock prices. We're not going to climb down from 1 million job losses per week to a more normal level without creating space for it and just a vaccine alone won't be enough to do that. Trump's tariffs are an artificial weight that will depress any effort to create new jobs for workers in industries that depend on imports or their own exports.

The economy has only recovered for shareholders under Trump.