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Trade, Saving And An Economic Disaster

Trade, Saving And An Economic Disaster

The UK is running a trade surplus. No, really, I am not joking. This is from the ONS’s latest trade statistics release:

The UK total trade surplus, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, increased £3.8 billion to £7.7 billion in the three months to August 2020, as exports grew by £21.4 billion and imports grew by a lesser £17.5 billion

It’s the first time the UK has run a trade surplus since the late 1990s:

And if you were thinking this was because of the lockdown, you would be wrong. The UK has been running a trade surplus since the beginning of 2020:

Admittedly, the trade surplus widened under the lockdown. But the UK economy reopened to some degree from June to August – and yet the trade surplus continues to widen.

This is no doubt music to the ears of balance of payments obsessives. Could the UK at last be pivoting away from a consumption-led growth model to an export-led one?

At first sight, it appears so. Exports have increased more than imports. And the strongest growth in goods exports was in manufactured goods, particularly machinery and transport equipment:

Hooray! If this continues, the UK will become an export powerhouse to rival Germany! There will be jobs and prosperity for all!

Not so fast. The trade balance is a net figure. The gross figures that make it up matter too – and gross imports and exports have both fallen considerably since August 2019:

The UK’s trade surplus is not a sign of a booming export economy. Far from it. The only reason for the trade surplus is that imports have fallen even more than exports over the last 12 months.

An abrupt switch from trade deficit to trade surplus accompanied by sharp falls in both imports and exports

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Get financial, insurance documents in order before a disaster strikes

Get financial, insurance documents in order before a disaster strikes

Thousands of people who have lost homes in the California wildfires discovered too late that their insurance coverage had not kept up with the rising cost of lumber, labor and other rebuilding materials. Talk to your insurer to make sure you have enough coverage but, for a quick reality check, ask a local contractor how much it costs to build per square foot and multiply that by your home’s size.

One of the most painful post-disaster tasks is compiling an inventory of possessions so you can seek reimbursement for the contents coverage. It’s far easier to put the list together beforehand.

Here are tips for shoring up your finances:

Safeguard your documents: Keep a copy of your will, trust, birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, insurance papers, medical information, most recent tax return, receipts for high-ticket items and other important documents in a safe deposit box. You can also scan and save them to a DVD or flash drive, which you can give to a trusted friend or family member outside the region. Another option is to save them in the cloud.

Break out the camera: Your insurance will pay for everything you lost — up to your policy limits — as a result of a covered “peril,” such as fire or windstorm. To get reimbursed for your personal belongings, most companies require a detailed inventory of every item lost, although some will advance a portion of your contents coverage without this list. While your house is still standing, use an online inventory or app or print a blank one from the California Department of Insurance or consumer group United Policyholders. Store it away from your home or better yet, in the cloud. At the very least, take photos or videos of everything in your home and outbuildings, including

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