The Leading Edge Of The Dollar Hurricane

BUCHAREST — If you’ve never been to this town, it is at once Paris on the come and a frayed remnant of Soviet architectural banality. By which I mean, what you see is what you’re inclined to see.

I’ve come to this analogy looking out the window of my quaint, Beaux Arts hotel and seeing 19th-century buildings that I might call “ghetto chic” and in need of some care and cash to restore their glory (I happen to be partial to this city) … while others just see “ghetto” and walk away.

Just depends on what you’re inclined to see.

Bringing this to mind is the Washington Post article I happen to be reading on my phone as I look out over Bucharest. I find myself wondering: What inclinations hide here? What is this reporter not telling me that might provide an analysis fundamentally different from his?

The story he has written is the latest on America’s international trade in goods and services for July, which happened to be released in September. Basically, our trade deficit.

Novocain to the brain, I know. But hang with me a moment. There’s a salient point here that explains why monthly headline numbers and the news coverage you generally get tell you very little about the economic winds swirling around you, or the broader implications, which are, in this case, quite troubling for your near-term future and mine.

This particular Post scribe wants me to know that America’s trade gap narrowed by 11.6% in July — more than forecast, I’m told, so, I guess, salad days are here again, or at least on the way. The value of shipments to overseas customers also perked up — to a 10-month high, no less! That pickup in exports (theoretically a bright spot and around which today’s dispatch ultimately revolves) surged because of food sales.

We’re in high cotton now, dear reader. High cotton, indeed.

Just don’t try selling that cotton to anyone who’s seen the statistics. Nobody who knows how it was made is buying it.

Back in the day, I was a financial reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and when I smelled a rotting fish, my reflexes sent me in search of the source to examine that fish myself.

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As a lifelong world traveler, Jeff Opdyke has been investing directly in the international markets since 1995, making him one of the true pioneers of foreign trading. ...

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