Baldrige predicts lower trade deficit next quarter

Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige predicted on Monday a lower United States trade deficit in the fourth quarter, even though he admitted that many economists will disagree. ``I want to be fair and say many economists probably think it is too early to call a turn yet, but I don't. I think we've made the turn,'' he said on NBC's ``Today'' television show.

Secretary Baldrige's comments came in response to last week's release of figures showing an October trade deficit of just over $12 billion. This October deficit was 15 percent less than the monthly average for the first nine months of 1986.

Some economists have taken this as a sign that the US trade deficit may have turned a long-awaited corner. Others disagree, however, using the third-quarter deficit as an example. They point out that the third-quarter deficit was actually 10.2 percent higher than the previous quarter.

In reference to that increase, Baldrige said on Monday, ``If you left out oil shipments, even with the latest figures we have, we were running about $2 billion less than we were in the second quarter.''

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