At $271.3 billion, the US last year reached an all-time high in its trade deficit, according to recently released figures.
That means the US spent a lot more money on goods and services from foreign countries than foreign countries spent on goods and services from the US.
But the record deficit is not necessarily a bad thing, says Marty Chase, an editor at the Kiplinger Letter. "If you look at the overall economic situation, it's not that big of a problem," Mr. Chase says. "It just means our strong economy is sucking in imports faster than we can export."
Also, while textiles from China and automobiles from Japan and Europe are being soaked up by US consumers, "US export services - such as banking, education, and entertainment - show a huge surplus of almost $80 billion," Chase says.
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