The US Trade Deficit With Mexico Has Been Flat For 15 Years

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In the LA Times today, Jim Puzzanghera writes that “a small U.S. trade surplus with Mexico of about $1.7 billion in 1993 has ballooned into a large deficit — $61 billion last year.” Here’s the accompanying chart:

This does indeed give the impression of an ever-widening gap. But it’s badly misleading because it doesn’t take account of inflation and economic growth. Here’s a better chart that shows the trade gap directly:

The US trade deficit with Mexico did indeed rise in the first decade after NAFTA. But for the past 15 years it’s been flat. In 2002 it was 0.338 percent of US GDP. In 2015 it was 0.336 percent of GDP.

You can’t look at stuff like this in nominal dollars. You have to account for economic growth (about 25 percent since 2002) and inflation (about 30 percent since 2002). Once you do that, you can see that, in fact, our trade deficit with Mexico hasn’t changed at all for the past 15 years.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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