The 9 Basics Of American Commerce That Everyone Should Know
When you live in the most powerful country in the world, the stakes for not knowing every bit about it become low.
The reason is simple. If you're a country like France or Italy desperately trying to attract business and investment, you have to be able to know what your country is best at to make your pitch at a moment's notice.
The U.S. faces no such pressure.
But on the off chance you've taken this privilege and run with it, we've put together nine basic facts about the American economy that you may not know, but really probably should.
1) The largest destination for U.S. goods exports is Canada.
The second largest is Mexico. China is third.
2) We import the most stuff from China.
Maybe you did know that. But Canada is second.
3) Canada is our largest overall trading partner.
We're just really lucky to have them (and of course vice-versa).
4) America also gets the greatest percentage of its crude oil from Canada.
Again, they are indispensable. We only get about a third from OPEC members.
5) Our most expensive import is crude, far and away.
We spent close to $300 billion on barrels of crude. The runner-up includes other household gadgets and other industrial machinery. Returned and reimported items (No. 7) are goods that might be defective, or ones on which the importer defaulted or cancelled.
6) America's most valuable export in real dollars is...oil products.
America's refining sector is still going strong.
7) America's greatest comparative advantage is in airplanes, materials, and food.
The above chart doesn't mean that much, since we actually have a net deficit in most of those categories. Here's where we really excel - where the world relies on us more than we rely on it. All the definitions are here »
8) America is a service economy.
Here's our balance of services. We are tops in "other private services" which is practically anything you can think of: finance, insurance, telecom, education, etc. We have a billion-dollar surplus in services against the rest of the world.
9) America's second-largest exported "service" is basically patents.
The U.S. Trade Office calls it licensing and royalties.