The merchandise trade deficit may be shrinking, but economist Robert Chandross of Lloyds Bank notes that real imports have remained surprisingly strong during the current recession. Imports of nonautomotive consumer goods have hardly declined, and, excluding oil, total real merchandise imports are actually above their level in last year's second quarter. "With imports staying so strong during the recession," says Chandross, "you have to wonder what will happen to the trade balance when the summer driving season begins and the economy turns up."
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