Asia Passes Europe as Top Export Destination, For 1st Time Ever

One way the Greek debt crisis could impact the United States is through exports. If investors flee the euro, it will lose value in relation to the dollar, which will make American goods less attractive to Europeans.

But here's some interesting news from the Commerce Department (via WSJ): "For the first time in recorded history, the moving 12-month sum of $227.6 billion of U.S. merchandise exports to Asia's emerging market countries surpassed the... $223.7 billion of such exports to the European Union."

US exports to Europe have already fallen 14% year-over-year in the first three months of 2010. Exports to Asia grew by nearly 4% in that time. With the crisis in Greece, this is welcome news  because stronger Asian demand could replace some demand lost to a currency crisis in Europe. But as Asian countries rise on our list of top importers, we should pay more attention to any fiscal and monetary policies that could slow the Asian consumer:

Asian economies are growing so strongly at the moment that China in particular is scaling up efforts to damp inflation through tighter monetary policy. While a "soft landing" outcome in which the Chinese economy slows to say at 8% annualized growth rate would be ideal, a harder landing whereby higher interest rates slow demand precipitously can't be ruled out. Indeed, it's one of the top risks to the global growth outlook. Though much attention has been focused across the Atlantic lately, it's actually the Pacific Rim which perhaps should merit closer scrutiny.
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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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