Demand for Apple’s new iPhone 6s is widening America’s trade deficit

Phoning it in.
Phoning it in.
Image: Reuters/Damir Sagoli
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Americans are calling for a larger trade deficit—literally.

August trade data (pdf) from the US Commerce Department shows that the difference between imports and exports surged 15% from July to $48 billion. One cateogory that’s leading the expansion is “cell phones and other household goods,” which rose $2.1 billion, or 30%, from the previous month, for the category’s biggest monthly gain since 2001.

Economists are more or less attributing the jump to Apple’s new iPhone 6s, which has been selling at a record pace.

“This one-off effect contributed to the $4.0 billion rise in imports of consumer goods,” Wells Fargo wrote in a note to clients.

Capital Economics had a bit more fun with it: “Ladies and Gentlemen… the iPhone 6s has landed. Literally.”

That said, there was some cause for concern in the August numbers overall. Both imports and exports continue to sink on a year-over-year basis, and a strong dollar isn’t helping the latter.