Implications: Trade volumes soared in March, both imports and exports. The total volume of trade (exports + imports) increased to $394 billion in March, just 1.1% off the all-time monthly high reached in July 2008. Exports have been expanding rapidly since mid-2009 and are at a record high, both on a cash basis and adjusted for inflation. This is a clear sign that the U.S. and world economies are continuing to expand. That said imports grew faster than exports in March, resulting in a rebound in the trade deficit, much of which was due to higher oil prices. In other recent news on the trade sector, import prices increased 2.2% in April and are up 11.1% in the past year. This is not all due to oil: excluding petroleum, import prices were up 0.6% in March and are up 4.3% in the past year. Export prices climbed 1.1% in April and are up 9.6% versus a year ago. Most of the increase in export prices is outside the farm sector. Excluding agriculture, export prices were up 1% in April and are up 6.9% in the past year. Chairman Bernanke may claim higher prices are not his fault, because the Fed can't create more oil. But the Fed can create more dollars, and that's why we have higher inflation.
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