Sometimes humour in the face of tragedy serves to lighten the mood, creating a space in which to reflect the serious nature of where we are in the historical moment. It is, ironically, a good time for another Fukuyama book and his most current work explores the history of social structures.
Yesterday’s news that the Japanese Fukashima disaster is now officially a “7” rating on the world atomic energy commission’s scale of disasters is sad but instructive. Attempting to know the unknowable is a bit of a fool’s errand and those who attempt to make decisions in such a manner are doomed to repeated failure.
This is why we focus on the top down. There are things we can know. There are positions that require conviction. Ultimately markets are, when they are free, corrective, healing and prosperous.
We look forward to the time when they can once again take on such expression. For today they look to be deteriorating.
Speaking of massive long-term deterioration, lets take a look at this morning’s Import Export numbers:
Goods and Services
- Exports decreased to $165.1 billion in February from $167.5 billion in January. Goods were $118.0 billion in February, down from $120.4 billion in January, and services were $47.2 billion in February, up from $47.1 billion in January.
This on the back of a VERY weak USD$ = people really don’t like our stuff!
- Imports decreased to $210.9 billion in February from $214.5 billion in January. Goods were $177.3 billion in February, down from $180.7 billion in January, and services were $33.6 billion in February, down from $33.8 billion in January.
Remember when Uncle Ben told us the $ deterioration didn’t matter because American’s don’t travel overseas… they would buy things from over seas but they can’t afford them and, well he likes it that way.
- For goods, the deficit was $59.3 billion in February, down from $60.3 billion in January. For services, the surplus was $13.6 billion, up from $13.3 billion in January.
For some reason the world still wants to hear what we intellectually have to say. WE wonder how long that will last.
Goods by Category (Census basis)
- The January to February decrease in exports of goods reflected decreases in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($1.0 billion); industrial supplies and materials ($0.6 billion); other goods ($0.5 billion); capital goods ($0.3 billion); consumer goods ($0.2 billion); and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.2 billion).
- The January to February decrease in imports of goods reflected decreases in automotive vehicles, parts and engines ($2.3 billion); capital goods ($2.1 billion); industrial supplies and materials ($1.4 billion); and other goods ($0.1 billion). Increases occurred in consumer goods ($2.3 billion) and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.1 billion).
Services by Category
- Exports of services were virtually unchanged from January to February. An increase in other private services ($0.1 billion), which includes items such as business, professional, and technical services, insurance services, and financial services, was partly offset by a decrease in other transportation ($0.1 billion), which includes freight and port services. Changes in the other categories of services exports were small.
Goods by Geographic Area (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
- The goods deficit with China decreased from $23.3 billion in January to $18.8 billion in February. Exports increased $0.4 billion (primarily passenger cars, soybeans, and steelmaking materials) to $8.4 billion, while imports decreased $4.1 billion (primarily computers and accessories; toys, games, and sporting goods; and electric apparatus) to $27.3 billion.
They apparently like American cars in China as it and our farm products make up almost all the Chinese trade balance decrease. That’s what having an extra billion people will do.
- The goods deficit with the European Union increased from $5.6 billion in January to $6.9 billion in February. Exports decreased $0.3 billion (primarily nonmonetary gold; soybeans; and artwork, antiques and stamps) to $20.0 billion, while imports increased $1.1 billion (primarily pharmaceutical preparations, civilian aircraft, and household goods) to $26.9 billion.
What we’re watching
- Commodity collapse? That was prescient
- Brent WTI oil spread moving out again
- Man that guy at the POMO desk for stocks must be out sick this week.
- OR! Equities might be at the top of their “permanent” range
- Three words “Island Gap Reversal” Find ’em they’re out there