[Marxism] Global economics for lefties: sizing up what the USA imported in 2002

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sat Feb 21 02:28:06 MST 2004

Thought I would draft this note anyway, folks. Some people might believe the
BEA estimate for the total value of US imports of $1.4 trillion in 2002. I
don't. I think it would be more correct to say that the US imported a
monetary value of $2.5 trillion, comprising money capital (44%), industrial
materials (10.5%), business services (9%), equipment goods (14.6%), consumer
goods & services (21%) and military goods & services (0.8%). In addition, it
gained one million new legal immigrants. Yep, the US really had it coming
that year.

But how do I arrive at such a figure ? One of those Charlie Brown "I just
made up the figures" exercises perhaps ? I guess it all depends on how you
define the value of "imports", and I define it as the value of what actually
went into the USA, economically speaking (I haven't considered imports of
hours of lifetime and ecological effects at this stage of research). Let's
forget about neoclassical boredom for a moment, and just have a look please,
at how my revised estimate of total imports is arrived at (I'm working from
BEA and BOP figures):

1. Total imports of money capital: = $1,117.6 billion, including:

Net foreign private purchases of corporate and other bonds = $236.3 billion
Net increase in other financial asset claims acquired by foreign investors
in US domestic territory = $163.3 billion
Income of US residents from direct investment overseas which has been
reinvested = $121.0 billion
Foreign private investment in US Treasury securities = $96.2 billion
Interest income receipts from overseas = $93.5 billion
Dividend income receipts from overseas = $81.5 billion
Income from foreign tourists = $80 billion (own estimate)
Net foreign private purchases of US equity stocks = $55.1 billion
Foreign government investment in US Treasury securities = $43.1 billion
Foreign private direct investment into the US = $39.6 billion
Foreign government investment in other US government securities = $30.4
Net increase in currency holdings in US territory by foreign investors =
$21.5 billion
Other foreign government investment in US corporate stocks and debt
securities = $21.3 billion
US federal cash receipts from foreign governments (mainly military sales
contracts), net of refunds = $10.0 billion
US federal taxes from the rest of the world = $7.2 billion
US federal acquisition of foreign currency = $6 billion
Miscellaneous US federal income receipts from overseas = $3.3 billion
Wage and salary income receipts from overseas = $3.2 billion

 2. Total imports of industrial materials = $268.3 billion, including:

Crude oil = $77.3 billion
Metals = $39 billion
Industrial chemicals = $33 billion
Building materials (non-metal) = $22.5 billion
Other petroleum products = $13.3 billion
Paper = $11.5 billion
Natural gas = $11 billion
Industrial textiles = $10.9 billion
Fuel oil = $9.2 billion
Liquefied petroleum gas = $3.7 billion
fertilizers = $3.7 billion
Nuclear fuel materials = $2.2 billion
Electric power = $1.1 billion
Coal, cokes & bitumen = $1 billion
Other materials = $28.9 billion

3. Total imports of business services = $230.9 billion, including:

Miscellaneous private services = $80.5 billion
Transport services = $61.9 billion (own estimate)
Services from US controlled enterprises overseas = $32.4 billion
Foreign insurance services = $15.3 billion
User, patent and property rights/licenses bought from US enterprises
overseas = $15.1 billion
Business, professional, and technical services bought from foreign
enterprises = $10.7 billion
User, patent and property rights/licenses bought from foreign enterprises =
$4.1 billion
Foreign financial services = $3.7 billion
Foreign telecommunications = $4.2 billion
Services bought by US government agencies from overseas = $2.9 billion

4. Total imports of equipment goods = $372.7 billion, including:

Industrial machinery = $97.8 billion
Mechanical componentry for vehicles = $74.5 billion
Computer accessories = $59 billion
Specialised business equipment & instruments = $33.8 billion
Semiconductors = $26 billion
Telecommunications equipment = $23.1 billion
Trucks = $19.3 billion (some personal use trucks included)
Computers = $16.1 billion
Civilian aircraft = $12.3 billion (some personal aircraft included)
Metalworking machine tools = $5.9 billion
Wood, glass, and plastic fittings  = $4.4 billion
Ships = $0.2 billion
Spacecraft equipment, excluding military = $0.036 billion

5. Total imports of consumer goods & services = $535 billion, including:

Cars = $114 billion
Miscellaneous goods for household use = $107.2 billion
Clothing & footwear = $88.3 billion
Personal travel = $54.6 billion (own estimate)
Food and beverages = $50.7 billion
Household appliances (including TVs, VCRs, audio) = $41.7 billion
Medical drugs = $40.7 billion
Jewelry, antiques, numismatic coins etc. = $30 billion
Pleasure boats = $2.2 billion
Motorcycles = $3 billion
Foreign educational services = $2.5 billion (includes foreign business

6. Total imports of military goods & services = $19.2 billion, including:

Military goods & services = $19.2 billion

7. Total imports of people, including:

1,063,732 new legal permanent residents
Approximately 38 million visits (own guess) by foreign travellers, including
11.3 million leisure visits by airplane and 5.4 million business visits by
airplane (about a third of the visitors by airplane are professionals,
another third managers).

Okay, maybe you don't agree with my figures. Well then, you do some work on
it, and figure something out, so we can compare our estimates. All this arid
globalisation discourse ain't going to enlighten anybody. That's my line of
thinking anyway.


(i) The sources of the value of imported cars included Japan = $35 billion,
Canada = $31 billion, Germany = $17.8 billion, Mexico = $13.5, billion,
Korea = $6,8 billion, and UK = $4 billion.

(ii) The value of durable imported goods was = $770.4 billion (of which =
$61.4 billion re-exported) and the value of nondurable goods was = $419.9
billion (of which = $1.9 billion re-exported).


Paolo Giussani, "Empirical Evidence for Trends towards Globalization: The
Discovery of Hot Air."
Paul Hirst & Grahame Thompson, Globalisation in Question, 2nd edition,
Cambridge: Polity, 1999
V.I. Lenin, Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism (various editions).
Oscar Morgenstern, On the Accuracy of Economic Observations, 2nd Edition,
Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1963


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