Disasters and Dilemmas: the Joe Biden White House

Inflation has risen at the quickest rate in four decades since President Biden’s first year in office. The trade imbalance also widened to the largest import-export disparity on record.

It’s Not Looking Good

The commodities trade deficit increased by 1.8 percent in December to $80.7 billion, according to the US Department of Commerce, just much less than the record shortfall of $80.8 billion set in September.

The 2021 full-year trade imbalance climbed by 27% to $859.1 billion, breaking the previous high of $763.53 billion recorded in 2006. Records from the Commerce Department date back to 1960.

The high increase is due to a weakened industrial sector in the United States, which was unable to expand to meet consumer demand while the country recovered from the pandemic.

Consumers in the United States spend a lot of money on things that would have increased domestic production in previous decades, but are now fueling imports.

During the epidemic, boost checks and other types of government assistance lifted salaries in the United States; most of that money ended up in the pockets of overseas companies, mainly in China.

This revenue leakage, which is caused by the US’ record-high trade imbalance, puts pressure on the nation’s spending, forcing it to take on additional debt in order to keep private sector revenue from decreasing.

The official metric of Gross Domestic Product is depleted by exports. Imports increased 1.6 percent to $308.9 billion in December, adding to the persistent congestion at U.S. ports.

For the full year, the trade imbalance with China increased by 14.5 percent to $355.3 billion. Even still, it was less than the all-time high deficit set in 2018.

In 2021, total goods imports increased to $2.85 trillion, while imported services increased to $535 billion. Exports increased to $2.528 trillion, significantly higher than the previous year’s figure.

Harris Taking Center Stage?

As she seeks to explore a “redo” of her position in President Biden’s government, Vice President Kamala Harris is no longer scheduling separate meetings with international leaders.

Harris and her staff set up separate sessions with international leaders when she first assumed office.

During those meetings, Harris would usually invite international leaders out onto the balcony, allowing photographers to take images of her with visiting diplomats.

Harris met with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as incumbent President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador individually in November.

She spoke with Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Prime Minister, as well as Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, in September.

In September, Harris also visited with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Premier Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In July, Harris received German Chancellor Angela Merkel for brunch at the Naval Station Vice President’s house.

Merkel’s replacement, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, made a special trip to the White House on Monday, but Harris was nowhere to be found.