NPR logo Chart: The Collapse In Global Trade

Trade

Chart: The Collapse In Global Trade

"The big elephant in the room." Carl Weinberg/High Frequency Economics) hide caption

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Carl Weinberg/High Frequency Economics)

Right in the middle of last week's data-lanche on unemployment, Marc Chandler of the Brown Brothers Harriman currency group called for a breath. "There is another development, though, that should not be lost in the shuffle," he wrote in one of his regular notes. "During the economic downturn, trade fell more than industrial output, which collapsed."

The chart above shows that we're living through the only major, sustained fall in global trade since 1970. Carl Weinberg of High Frequency Economics notes that French exports are down 18.7 percent, after a 24.7 percent year-over-year decline just a couple of months back. Monthly reports on German exports document declines of 24.8 percent and 29 percent. Australia, which has been feasting on its export economy, is down 14.7 percent.

"Behind each story lies a catastrophic decline in gross exports," Weinberg writes. The IMF data on exports track a 36 percent fall from the peak of $1.5 trillion in July 2008. "We have never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. Neither, quite frankly, did we ever think we would."