Top US Trading Partners

Foreign or international trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. Without international trade, nations would be limited to the goods and services produced within their own borders. Hence, increasing international trading is crucial to the continuance of globalization.

It is interesting to explore the most popular world trading partners of the United States. Examining the numbers behind a country’s trading relationships sheds light on the extent of economic interdependence between nations.

Let us take a look at the listing of the current top world trade partners of the United States. The data in this report is year-to-date and comes from the US Census Bureau. It represents the total trade of goods – both imports and exports – from January 2014 through July 2014.

Canada – Many are surprised to discover that the country’s top world trading partner is none other than our neighbor to the north – Canada.

Total Trade: $381.1 billion

Percent of Total US Trade: 16.7%

US Exports: $180.6 billion

US Imports: $200.5 billion

Trade Gap: $19.9 billion

China

Total: $322 billion

Percent of Total US: 14.1%

US Exports: $68 billion

US Imports: $254 billion

Gap: $186 billion

Mexico

Total: $308.2 billion

Percent of Total US: 13.5%

US Exports: $139.1 billion

US Imports: $169.1 billion

Gap: $30 billion

Japan:

Total: $116.8 billion

Percent of Total US: 5.1%

US Exports: $38.8 billion

US Imports: $78 billion

Gap: $39.2 billion

Germany

Total: $99.6 billion

Percent of Total US: 4.4%

US Exports: $29.4 billion

US Imports: $70.2 billion

Gap: $40.8 billion

South Korea

Total: $66.2 billion

Percent of Total US: 2.9%

US Exports: $26.4 billion

US Imports: $39.8 billion

Gap: $13.4 billion

United Kingdom

Total: $62.7 billion

Percent of Total US: 2.7%

US Exports: $31 billion

US Imports: $31.7 billion

Gap: $0.7 billion

France

Total: $46.2 billion

Percent of Total US: 2%

US Exports: $18.4 billion

US Imports: $27.8 billion

Gap: $9.4 billion

Saudi Arabia

Total: $42.7 billion

Percent of Total US: 1.9%

US Exports: $10.4 billion

US Imports: $32.3 billion

Gap: $21.9 billion

Brazil

Total: $41.8 billion

Percent of Total US: 1.8%

US Exports: $24.9 billion

US Imports: $16.9 billion

Gap: $8 billion (in US favor)

It is interesting to note that in this period, the top 10 countries represent approximately 73.2% of the $2.3 trillion in total US foreign trade, with a total trade gap of $369.9 billion (the value that imports exceed exports) overall. Out of the 10 biggest trading partners, only one have trade gap in the United States’ favor (meaning that the US exports have been greater than the imports).

Based on the above data, we also observe some specifics about the US top trading partners such as:

Top 5 Countries Receiving U.S. Exports (in descending order)

– Canada, Mexico, China, South Korea and Japan

Top 5 Countries Supplying U.S. Imports(in descending order)

– China, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany

From the statistics seen above, it is evident that foreign trade is an important component of any economy, generally accounting for a significant share of gross domestic product (GDP). Here the trade is mostly restricted to trade in goods and services rather than trade in capital, labor or other factors of production. This is because international trade is costlier than domestic trade due to the additional costs like tariffs, border delays or country differences such the legal system or culture.

This is where the international trade (and traders) of the US is largely dependent on “logistics” companies which encompass the distribution, transportation and inventory management sections of the international demand-supply chain.

Many logistics companies provide a one-stop solution for global transportation by offering a single or any combination of shipping methods that gets the cargoes where they need to go in the most time and cost-effective manner possible. Through their consulting services, the company also helps its clients to overcome the specific challenges that the trader faces by formulating customized long-term logistical plans to maximize time and budget.

Often, purchasing and procurement services can be expensive for business corporations to handle “in house”. A good company will go that extra mile by offering complete procurement services along with supply chain management services. Such a feature provides greater relief to the traders; they don’t have to worry about the selecting the right vendor (in terms of reliability or geographical position) or the quality of raw materials. So, whether your company needs to purchase wholesale computer parts, home and garden equipment or consumer electronics and handles the freight from door to door.

Along with the promise of worry-free end-to-end transportation services, these companies also provide attractive discounts on import and export products from time to time.

It is the presupposition of international trade that a sufficient level of geopolitical peace and stability are prevailing in order to allow for the peaceful exchange of trade and commerce to take place between nations.

Selling Your Business

In our final article in the Selling Your Business series, we’ll address pricing issues, flexibility and timing.

The Price is Going Down… Not Up: Once you set your sale price, the final price you receive is likely to only be less. It’s not very often that a buyer will be so impressed with the value of your business that he or she will voluntarily offer to pay more for it than you’ve asked; extremely rare, if ever! So once an interested buyer materializes and the path to the sales agreement begins, discoveries will be made or events will occur which will place a steady downward pressure on the value and price of your business.

Your prospective buyer will begin to know more and more about your business, its operations, employees, financial wellbeing, competitiveness… little by little, each of your secrets will begin to emerge and some of these may not be so favorable. Speed is of the essence because the longer the sale process takes, the more likely it is that events will start deflating the initial rosy picture of your business being in the peak of health: your key man might leave (subtract $100,000); a key customer defects (subtract $100,000); a lease is canceled (subtract $100,000); one of your facilities has a bad fire (subtract $100,000)… there is no end to the things that could go wrong, and even if things go right, the buyer won’t be offering you a higher price for your business.

The longer it takes to get to ‘yes’, the more likely it is you’ll have a lower and lower sale price. It is generally understood that about 70 – 80% of businesses don’t transact, so the price goes down… to zero!

Timing Issues: Maybe it’s better if you wait a bit and don’t sell now. The economy is tough, housing construction is going through a dip… furniture sales are going to be off for a while as the cycle goes through its downturn. You know the market, you can read the signs; it’s smarter to hold onto your furniture business for another year or two, let the economy improve, see an upswing in construction. The market will improve and your business will begin flourishing again; that’s the time to sell!

Post LOI Flexibility: The prospective buyer is showing continuing interest, and has delivered a Letter of Intent to purchase. This is not legally binding, but it is good news and does bring the sale a bit closer. The LOI allows more serious discussion to take place, providing an outline for developing the terms of the contract without creating a liability for either party. Remember that your flexibility with negotiations is very limited after the LOI is signed, because you’ve already set the table.

Every important term and condition should be clearly stated and understood before signing. Therefore, you need to be prepared and know which of your terms of sale are negotiable and to what degree, and which are not.

Highest Price Does Not Equal Highest After-Tax Proceeds: There are two goals for the seller in offering the business for sale. You want to sell the business, and you want the most money you can get for it. However, keep in mind that the sale will create a taxable event, and the government will be entitled to a healthy slice of your pie… unless you design the sale to favor your best interests, and quite possibly the best interests of your buyer.

Assuming your business sells, money will exchange hands… but your focus needs to be placed not on your sale price but on the amount of money you have left after taxes. Your financial planner can work with you and, in some instances, with the assistance of your other professional team members, help you arrange a deal that makes a lower sale price but provides you with more after tax dollars than if you insisted on a higher sale price.

This way, both the buyer and the seller benefit with an important money-saving advantage. Also, remember that a good deal for both parties isn’t always the price; non-price factors like escrows, earnouts, representations and warranties, indemnifications, etc., also contribute to the value of the package.

The Various Benefits of Forex Trading Signals

Trading in Forex markets can be quite lucrative. However, to capitalize on all the profit-making opportunities present in the market, a Forex trader has to spend a lot of time watching out for possible entry and exit points on their computer screens. Not many traders have such much time at their disposal. There is a less time consuming method for studying and analyzing the Forex market that involves specifying the limit and stop levels of trades in advance. As much as this method saves time, it limits the opportunities for making profits. A better alternative is the use of Forex trading signals.

Using Forex trading signals is one of the features that came out of recent advances in electronic trading and the rise of online trading. Simply put, a trading signal is an indication of how and when to trade a certain Forex pair on a basis of specified price analysis. Such a signal could be generated from either a manual source or an analytic program that uses complex technical indicators. Forex traders can hugely benefit from accurate Forex trading signals. The goal for seeking and using them is to get profitable trades that will help a trader grow his/her account balance.

Not all investors have the time or knowledge to do independent fundamental or technical analysis. Forex brokers offer trading signals to give investors an upper hand when trading currencies. Forex trading signals are buying and selling indicators that monitor the market on behalf of new investors or those with limited time. With the help of experienced analysts and special software, brokers can make more informed choices concerning price trends. Forex trading signals are then sent to investors’ pagers, computers or cell phones. Traders are able to focus on other things without having to worry about missing out on profit-making opportunities.

Most providers of Forex trading signals can offer the research highlighting individual recommendations, together with a strike rate of previous signals. A trader’s entry point tells him/her the price level at which to begin a trade on a certain Forex pair. This can be to either buy or sell the pair. The entry point is typically set at a level that will trigger considerable market activity, in accordance to the analysis behind the signal.

A Reliable Forex trading signals Provides The Trader With Two Exit Points:

the stop level and the limit level. These points will tell where to close any position formed in response to the signal. The stop level informs the investor where to close the position should the trade be moving adversely so as to minimize his/her loses. On the other hand, the limit level informs one where to close the position if trade is favorable so as to lock in profits. For example, a signal may be indicating a brief rise in price followed by a reversal. In such a case, the trader may want to take his/her profit at the rise’s peak before the gains are reversed.

Services offering trading signals are gaining popularity due to their numerous benefits. Investors who subscribe to these services get signals and carry out automatic deals. All a Forex trader has to do is define his/her risk tolerance and leave the rest to the signal providers, who will carry on in accordance with the defined risk. Traders do not have to monitor the trading process but rather just subscribe to a good Forex signals service. The round the clock monitoring of the Forex market is definitely a great benefit.

There are other benefits of Forex trading signals too. An investor may be going through a difficult week in the market only to see a buying opportunity that he/she is hesitant to go through with. Should such a trader get a signal to buy on the same currency, he/she may get the confidence to go ahead. Trade strategy is a related benefit. When investors have confidence in the trade signals they are getting, they can put more focus on trading strategies and less in searching for trade opportunities. Each Forex trading signal sent to an investor is considered for factors such as risk reward ratio and probable pip move. By utilizing the signals, many investors who are new to the Forex market will have access to an entire new world of strategies. This can help them maximize their profit potential.

Who Should You Get Money Advice From?

Not too long ago, I was an average investor who adhered to conventional investment practices like most people. Almost all of my investing revolved around stocks, bonds and following the portfolio advice of the experts on TV and in financial publications. Then I noticed a problem and the problem was that it wasn’t working. Not only that but my account was not even keeping pace with the overall market and I was paying fees to people who didn’t really know any better than I did. In one case a broker I worked with talked me out of a great trade that I wanted to make for another company in the same sector. It turned out that the company that I wanted to buy ended up getting bought out by another company at a much higher price. The company that my broker talked me into buying eventually went bankrupt. In fact, every time I talked to him, he assured me that their business was fine. This was a turning point for me to learn to invest on my own.

As I immersed myself into investment education, I started learning a lot of tricks and tips to make money in other areas like real estate and options. I was able to make decent money on my own by investing in these areas. Also, I was able to meet other investors through this process and that’s when I had an epiphany. You see, I began to realize that many investment professionals are spouting the same worthless rhetoric. It occurred to me that it was because they all have to pass the same tests to certify as investment advisors and brokers. For instance, brokers have to pass the series 7 exam while financial advisors usually test and pass the CFP program. The problem is that these exams all require you to regurgitate the same meaningless data. This data is flat out wrong and many times outdated. For instance, it will grill into you that you can average about a 7-8% return in the stock market for long periods of time. This is also what most financial advisors will tell you since this is what they learned from their financial class and as an answer to an exam that they needed to pass. It’s not that they intend to give you poor money advice; they simply don’t know any better because they’re just recounting what they’ve been told is true. It’s this grave error that is leading people down a destructive path. In fact, if this advice worked, then why is it that I see so many retirees still working at grocery stores in their golden years? It was at this point that I realized that it was all wrong. I knew from my education that diversification was more than just owning different stocks and bonds in a retirement account. Then something weird happened…

I actually started getting into real estate and rubbing elbows with very wealthy people. I found out that they didn’t do any of the things that the financial gurus tell us to do. They owned lots of gold, silver, rare coins and antiques. They also owned businesses and real estate. They could care less about retirement accounts because they were only concerned about passive income. They owned interest in tax liens, oil and gas companies and owned whole life insurance policies that pay dividends on your highest historical balance even when you take a loan out from the policy. The conclusion was simple; these wealthy people know about things that I had never heard of. They also know more about tax advantaged investments than most accountants. My mind was blown.

So I end with the question that I started with. Who do you get your money advice from? Is it from traditional Tom who is a licensed broker and a CFP or is it from rich Rick who owns rental properties, businesses and doesn’t seem to really ever work? It’s so obvious when you think about it that the best money advice would come from someone who is already wealthy! So that’s my answer to all of you out in the blogosphere. Find a rich person that you know, take them to lunch and ask them how they invest their money. If you don’t know anyone who fits the bill just find someone who is wealthier than you to question. I guarantee that their answers will astound you, and don’t worry because they love to talk about money.

Jamie has an MBA from Rutgers University and a Professional Certificate in Real Estate Finance, Investment and Development from NYU. He’s traded stocks since he was 13 and bought his first property within a year of graduating college. He also flipped properties and got out before the 2008 mortgage meltdown because he was able to see the market turning before it happened. He’s started two companies and also has experience in investing in antiques, collectibles, gold, silver and trading futures.

Why FATCA Could Cause the Dollar to Collapse

Historically, when governments attempt to make laws that are based on economic principles, the results are disastrous. It’s been proven time and time again that when governments stay out of free markets, they tend to experience more growth and prosperity follows for the entire population. Unfortunately, the United States is going to have to learn this lesson again the hard way. The party is unofficially over and no one really gets it yet. Before we even get into FATCA, let’s review other significant events that have recently happened. China, Russia and other countries are signing agreements to trade in other currencies such as the Ruble or the Yuan. If the dollar is the reserve currency of the world, then why are they wanting to trade in another currency?

To make things more interesting, Texas and Germany have both demanded their gold to be returned to them from the Federal Reserve. The Fed immediately countered and explained this is very difficult and could take up to 7 years to complete. Are you serious? This reminds of that old Wendy’s commercial where the tag line is “Where’s the beef” except this is a much more serious matter. Immediately people wondered where the gold was. There was simply no logical reason why it should take that long unless they didn’t actually have it! These small news bites allude to a bigger issue in the global economy and that issue is a lack of trust. If you read between the lines on these things, other countries are saying that they’re losing faith in the United States and in the dollar.

Now let’s circle back to FATCA. This might be the single stupidest law that Congress has passed so far, which is quite a feat considering there have been some real humdingers. In 2010, lawmakers passed this law requiring both US citizens and foreign financial institutions to report any money that is housed in an account outside of the US and is owned by a US citizen. Now when the IRS starts asking for information on where your money is located, it can only mean two things and both of them are bad. Either they want to tax it or they want to confiscate it. No one knows for sure what will happen but it sure seems like an abuse of power. In July of this year, the law went into full effect internationally. Banks abroad had to start filing all kinds of paperwork with the US government for all of their US citizen account holders. US citizens also have to report accounts overseas with their annual tax returns. All of this paperwork is a tremendous headache. But this isn’t the meat of the issue, the real problem is much worse.

You see, Congress is made up of lawyers and politicians; there are very few business people in the aisle which is the case with many governments around the world. It’s a problem that any business person or economist would see staring them right in the face. The most obvious effect is that foreign banks and investment firms will start turning down Americans for new accounts. The second obvious effect is that annoyed Americans will move their money back to the US to save themselves from the annoyance of extra reporting every year. In fact, this is happening right now. So most of you might be saying what’s the big deal, well hear it is. At this moment in time, the US Dollar is the reserve currency of the world. Likewise the US Dollar’s money supply has doubled because of all the money printing we did to “save the global economy” post 2008. Most of this money was put into use overseas since it is the reserve currency and is widely used for trade. This created inflation in other countries and now there is nowhere for this money to go outside the US. Most banks won’t open new accounts for US citizens and more and more countries want to trade in other currencies.

At the same time, many Americans are bringing their money back home to simplify their tax reporting lives. This is all very understandable and to be expected. The problem is that when the money supply expands like that in one country, doubling or maybe even tripling in a matter of a few years, severe inflation can be expected. Very few people have picked up on this or even get it. It’s like watching your friends stand on the train tracks as you see and hear the train approaching off in the distance. Most people don’t even see it coming, it’s like they can’t even fathom it. I’m sure people in Germany didn’t think it would happen to them after World War I. Argentina didn’t see it coming in 2001. How can we expect to do any better? I’ve been preparing my members for this over the past year. I already alerted them to the coming Argentina default before it broke the news last week. I’ve also told them about a Portuguese Bank that recently failed and needed to be bailed out. Not only have I warned them of these things, I’m helping them to learn new investing techniques to make them money in these environments.

Jamie has an MBA from Rutgers University and a Professional Certificate in Real Estate Finance, Investment and Development from NYU. He’s traded stocks since he was 13 and bought his first property within a year of graduating college. He also flipped properties and got out before the 2008 mortgage meltdown because he was able to see the market turning before it happened. He’s started two companies and also has experience in investing in antiques, collectibles, gold, silver and trading futures.

The Infinite Banking Concept Simplified

In a post from the popular blog The Simple Dollar, the following suggestion is made regarding the setup and operation of a bank on yourself or pay yourself first program:

“First of all, you have to establish a “master account” of some kind. This can be something as simple as a savings account at a bank or it can be an investment account where you introduce some risk to your “master account.” I’ll talk about the different options in a bit.

This “master account” is where you deposit all of your income. Every single dime you earn gets directly deposited into your “master account.”

Then, once a month (or once a week or however you choose to do it), an automatic transfer pulls a smaller amount of money out of that “master account” into your normal checking account. That is the money that you live on – you use it to pay all of your bills”.

While this is a nice post geared to help people, it did completely fail at explaining the Bank on Yourself concept at all. In fact, it suggests opening two standard bank accounts and earning interest on one (which would be taxed and earn a lot less than 3-5%). You see, the true Infinite Banking concept doesn’t work anything like this. So as the code breaker of how the rich invest their money, I will strive to clear up what the cited post should have said all along. Here goes…

As part of my ventures into learning how to make money outside of conventional means, I came across the Infinite Banking concept, which is also sometimes referred to as Bank on Yourself. I admit that I was taken aback by it because I had not heard of it… ever. After reading at least 3 books on it, I decided to contact a local life insurance agent who specialized in setting up these policies the proper way. I grilled him with lots of questions about it and how it worked. It seemed too good to be true but I decided to open an account and take the plunge. Three years into it, I wish I had opened one 10 years ago, even at birth if that was possible. By now most of you are probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, so here’s some background on what it is and how it works.

The concept is simple. All you need to do is open up a specially structured whole life insurance policy. It needs to be with a mutually owned insurance company. You can’t just open it with any insurance company and only a handful exist that offer these kinds of policies: most of them you’ve never even heard of. You will also need to find a trained life insurance agent to set it up correctly. You’ll have to pay a fixed amount into the policy for 7 years. As an example, you might have to pay $2,000 per year for seven years. This is because of IRS tax laws. While your policy is active, it will gain in value every year by paying you dividends. The yields at the time of this writing can pay anywhere from 3-5%. Best of all, both the gains and distributions are tax free forever: that’s right, I said tax free. They are not tax deferred like with IRA’s or 401(k)’s. In addition, you can take a loan out on yourself at any time and the loan is never required to be paid back. If you do choose to pay yourself back, you can do so at a premium interest rate which goes right back into your account and then earns dividends on it. This allows your policy to act like a bank while compounding your money tax free.

Although the primary reason to open this policy is for investing reasons, you’ll also have the additional benefit of a whole life insurance policy covering you until about age 105. If at any time during that period you die, your beneficiary will get the insurance death benefit payout. What’s even better is that all the money you invested into your account comes back to your heirs or beneficiaries upon your death. Several financial gurus are pounding the table and talking about how whole life plans are a waste of money and carry high fees. They’re advising people to buy term life insurance and invest the difference. The problem is that most people pay a little bit per month for it (maybe $35 or so) but they don’t die within the 20 or 30 year policy term. The policy then expires worthless and their entire investment is lost. For this fictional policy, your loss would be $8,400 over 30 years. With a whole life policy, you (not you but your heirs or beneficiaries) would get all of the initial investment money back plus the dividends and other gains you received. In addition, your death benefit will still be intact so you will also get that money on top of your original investment. Did I mention that you can have more than one policy open on you and your spouse? Some people have 3 or 6 of these policies active!

After even more study, I found out that some of the richest families in the world use this exact concept to accumulate massive amounts of tax free wealth. My life insurance agent confirmed this by citing some local business owners who own several policies each. My hope is that many of you will read this post and do more research for yourself. I really do believe that everyday people can utilize this same concept to grow wealthy over time just like the wealthiest people in the world do.

Jamie has an MBA from Rutgers University and a Professional Certificate in Real Estate Finance, Investment and Development from NYU. He’s traded stocks since he was 13 and bought his first property within a year of graduating college. He also flipped properties and got out before the 2008 mortgage meltdown because he was able to see the market turning before it happened. He’s started two companies and also has experience in investing in antiques, collectibles, gold, silver and trading futures.

How to Get a Loan Modification, Never Pay Up Front

There have been countless changes in the loan modification industry since in began en force circa 2007. Most importantly was the systematic weeding out of fraudulent service providers who set up shop to take advantage of distressed homeowners by charging a fee up front an never doing any work. I’ll say this now and repeat it again as it’s the single most important bit of information you should know when seeking a loan modification: NEVER PAY UP FRONT FOR A LOAN MODIFICATION! Continue reading How to Get a Loan Modification, Never Pay Up Front

Unsecured And Secured Loans: What Are They?

Terms such as unsecured and secured loans wedding rings a bell to people who have been in search of a loan. Do you realize the difference? Do you realize which type of mortgage loan that you need? Are a person aware of the loan you’d qualify for?

It’s difficult many times for that average customer to sort through each of the terminology where you can real concept of what they need. It may be possible to break collateralized and loans into straightforward terms to your understanding.
Continue reading Unsecured And Secured Loans: What Are They?

Student Loan Discounts – What Are They and How to Get Them

Did you know that approximately 70% of students who are eligible for student loan discounts lose out on those discounts within the first year of loan repayment? Or that only about 20% of those students eligible to receive a discount for making their payments on time, actually do so?

Yes, it’s in the fine print. Let me walk you through some of the best tips on how to get those student loan discounts.

Make your first payment on time! Did you know that most students who lose a loan discount do so by missing their very first payment? Yes, that’s right! They simply “blow-off” their very first student loan payment. That lost one-time loan discount, based on a $10,000 loan @ 6.8% and a 10 year term, can be equivalent to $380.17 or even more!
Continue reading Student Loan Discounts – What Are They and How to Get Them