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

One of the first customers holds his phones as Apple iPhone 6s and 6s Plus go on sale at an Apple Store in Beijing.
Reuters/Damir Sagoli
Phoning it in.
By Melvin Backman
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

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.

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