Can The U.S. Keep Up Its Stellar Trade Performance?

There's no gainsaying the stunning improvement in America's trade performance in recent years-particularly on the export side. Aided by a depreciating greenback, goods exports valued in current dollars rose at about a 15% annual rate from 1986 to 1990, and they have continued to rise this year despite weakening in many major markets. But the key question is whether underlying trends in manufacturing productivity and labor compensation spell growing competitiveness for American products or whether trade improvements will hinge on further dollar devaluation.

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