In April, the US trade balance increased slightly. At the time, optimists pointed to this data, and suggested that the worst of the recession might be over. The idea was that consumers were buying more imports, confidence was returning, and if the trend continued, economic growth might resume.
The April data also had an international dimension. During the boom years, the huge US current account deficit was engine of world growth. On the back of the US consumer, and her insatiable appetite for cheap goods, China enjoyed double digit growth rates.
The optimism of April was killed by the reality of May. The US trade deficit slipped back, erasing the increase recorded the previous months.
No green shoots here.