Some Surprising Facts About U.S. Exports

The fastest way out of a financial crisis-turned-recession that leaves everybody in debt is to import money from overseas by exporting your products. How should the United States juice its exports? Two Brookings experts Bruce Katz and Jonathan Rothwell explain how the United States is both exporting more than you think and exporting less than we should. I drew three quick lessons from their good piece.

1. U.S. Exports Are Growing...
The authors: "U.S. exports grew 14.1 percent from the second quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2010, a pace far outstripping the 3 percent growth of the economy overall."

2. ... But Only 1 Percent of Our Businesses Try to Export
Most U.S. businesses are focused solely on the domestic market: Only 1 percent of them are exporters. As economist Dr. Tim Stuchey told me yesterday: "Smaller companies in the United States are satisfied with huge size of the North American continent and market. I think the size of your home market makes small companies lazy about exports."

3. Viva Brazil
From 2003 to 2008, U.S. exports to Brazil, India and China doubled, accounting for 8.8 percent of U.S. exports in 2008. Expect that number to climb, as the IMF predicts that these countries will account for more than a quarter percent of world GDP in five years, according to the authors.

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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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