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Economy in Brief

U.S. Current Account Deficit Deepens in 2015
by Tom Moeller  March 18, 2016

The U.S. Current Account Deficit deepened to $484.1 billion during 2015 from $389.5 billion in 2014. It was the largest deficit since 2008 and amounted to 2.8% of GDP. For the fourth quarter alone, the deficit eased to $125.3 billion versus $129.9 billion in Q3. A $116.3 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The deficit on merchandise trade deepened to $759.3 billion last year from $741.5 billion in 2014. It was the largest shortfall also since 2008, and reflected a 7.3% decline in exports versus a 4.3% drop in imports. During the fourth quarter, the deficit eased to $187.3 billion from $190.5 in Q3, though the 3.4% decline in exports, which totaled $366.7 billion, outpaced the 2.8% drop in imports, which totaled $554.0 billion.

The services trade surplus eased to $219.6 billion last year from $233.1 billion in 2014, as exports (which totaled $710.2 billion) remained little-changed. Imports, which totaled $490.6 billion, were off 2.8%. During the fourth quarter, the surplus on services trade grew to $53.5 billion from $51.9 billion. A 1.0% increase in exports outpaced the 0.2% improvement in imports.

The surplus on primary income declined to $191.3 billion, its smallest surplus in five years. The deficit on secondary income deteriorated to a record $135.6 billion. During Q4, the surplus on primary income continued on its downward trend to $42.8 billion, while the deficit on secondary income eased to $34.3 billion.

Balance of Payments data are in Haver's USINT database, with summaries available in USECON. The expectations figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

US Balance of Payments SA Q4'15 Q3'15 Q2'15 Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Current Account Balance ($ Billion) -125.3 -129.9 -110.8 -103.1 -484.1 -389.5 -376.8
  Deficit % of GDP 2.8 2.9 2.5 2.3 2.6 2.2 2.2
 Balance on Goods ($ Billion) -187.3 -190.5 -189.3 -186.0 -759.3 -741.5 -702.6
  Exports -3.4% -1.3% 0.5% -10.4% -7.3% 2.5% 1.9%
  Imports -2.8% -0.7% -0.2% -6.9% -4.3% 3.5% -0.4%
 Balance on Services ($ Billion) 53.5 51.9 56.2 57.6 219.6 233.1 224.2
  Exports 1.0% -1.1% -0.6% -1.2% -0.1% 3.3% 4.8%
  Imports 0.2% 1.9% 0.5% 1.6% 2.8% 3.0% 2.6%
 Balance on Primary Income ($ Billion) 42.8 45.4 53.1 60.0 191.3 238.0 224.5
 Balance on Secondary Income ($ Billion) -34.3 -36.7 -30.8 -34.8 -135.6 -119.2 -122.9
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