Wall Street Wrong Again – Import Prices Decline During Full Year of Import Tariffs…


The latest set of statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows all of the professional pundit claims of higher prices on imported goods due to Trump tariffs are simply disconnected from reality.  In actuality the year-over-year prices of import products are actually dropping:

U.S. Import prices fell 0.3 percent in May, the first monthly decline since a 1.4-percent drop in December. Import prices advanced 1.8 percent from December to April before the downturn in May. The price index for overall imports decreased 1.5 percent over the past 12 months, matching the drop in January. These were the largest over-the-year declines since the index fell 2.2 percent in August 2016. (See table 1.)

The U.S steel and aluminum tariffs have been in effect globally since 2017. Tariffs on softwood lumber (Canada) & durable appliances (S. Korea), same duration.  Additionally the first set of tariffs on China is now well over a year old; and the second set of expanded tariffs on China began a month ago; again, no material impact to the delivered price.

Despite two years of claims by the professional media that tariffs would lead to higher prices for U.S. consumers, as you can see above the reality is quite different.

In part this is driven by lower fuel and energy costs.  Additionally, China is attempting to subsidize its affected industry; and several nations, including China, are attempting to retain export status by adopting monetary policies that devalue their currency.  All of these efforts at countering the U.S. tariffs are having a deflationary impact.

[…] Imports by Locality of Origin: The price index for imports from China edged down 0.1 percent in May following a 0.2-percent drop the previous month. Import prices from China have not recorded a monthly advance since the index rose 0.1 percent in May 2018. Prices for imports from China declined 1.4 percent over the past year, the largest 12-month drop since a 1.6-percent decrease in February 2017.

Import prices from Japan recorded no change in May, after a 0.1-percent decline in April. Prices for imports from Japan also recorded no change from May 2018 to May 2019.

The price index for imports from Canada declined 1.0 percent in May, driven by lower fuel prices. (Link)

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