Why U.S. Exports Could Go From Hot To Sizzling

While the overall trade picture doesn't seem to be particularly encouraging, given America's insatiable appetite for imports, economist Mitchell Held of Smith Barney Shearson points out that the nation's export performance is nothing to sneeze at. The latest statistics indicate that U.S. exports are running 4% over their year-earlier level--or 3.5% in volume terms in light of a 0.5% rise in export prices. By contrast, world trade volume is estimated to have risen only 2% to 3% over the past year.

Despite the recessions plaguing Japan and Western Europe, U.S. exports to those destinations have not declined appreciably. And shipments to Canada, Britain, and much of Asia are in the double-digits, while exports to Mexico are now running nearly 3% over year-earlier levels after being down to around 5% under year-earlier levels only a few months ago. As the world economy picks up steam later in the year, predicts Held, America's export growth should accelerate sharply.

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