Five International Economics Business Stories Using BEA Data

by June 23, 2016

The Bureau of Economic Analysis within the U.S. Department of Commerce provides official macroeconomic and industry statistics, providing journalists with a goldmine of statistics and data for business stories, particularly those on international economics. The 2015 annual U.S. account deficit information as well as the fourth-quarter 2015 information was released in March. The U.S. current-account deficit is a net measure of transactions between the U.S. and the rest of the world in goods, services and income.

From travel services to food to reserve assets, the account deficit accounts for all goods, services, and money going in and out of the United States.

While the 2015 fourth quarter deficit decreased from the third quarter by $4.6 billion to $125.3 billion, the overall account deficit increased in 2015. Here are five story ideas you could localize based on deficit data:

  1. Deficit increase: The overall account deficit increased from $389.5 billion in 2014 to $484.1 billion in 2015. As the BEA mentions, the deficit increased from 2.2 percent to 2.7 percent as a percentage of U.S. GDP. How will this impact different industries in the U.S.? Which industries were most affected?
  1. Deficit increase: One of the key findings in the release was that the international trade in goods deficit increased $17.8 billion to $759.3 billion as goods exported decreased more than goods imported. If you live in a state where shipments of imports and exports are transported via cargo boats and docked to be loaded and unloaded, how has the decrease in exports affected the local economy? Have fewer cargo boats been in and out of the ports? Have any jobs been lost, created, or outsourced? Does this larger deficit contribute to a local deficit in exports?
  1. Goods exports and imports: Goods exported and imported both decreased from 2014 to 2015. The largest decrease in exports was in industrial supplies and materials due to a decrease in petroleum and related products. What companies in your area produce these goods, and how have these businesses done with product exports? Have sales gone down? What does this mean specifically for the industry of industrial supplies and materials? This angle could provide a particularly interesting story for cities and counties who rely heavily on their industrial supply industry.
  1. Service imports: Service imports increased $13.2 billion from 2014 to $490.6 billion. The largest increase of service imports was in travel, especially personal travel. How has this trend affected our travel industry and jobs within the travel industry here?
  1. Service exports: Services exported decreased less than one billion dollars from 2014 to 2015. However, one of the largest decreases was in transport, specifically air transport. Did this pattern affect any of the airline industries, or was this change too small to notice overall?

For more statistics and data, visit the BEA news release here.

“Money on money” by Flickr user “401kcalculator.org” CC license CC by 2.0