In today’s Washington Post, Peterson Institute for International Economics director C. Fred Bergsten looks at anti-trade rhetoric emanating from the campaign trail and responds:

[T]heir tone obscures a major success story: the dramatic improvement in our balance of international trade. This export boom has saved us from recession over the past year and, despite the recent financial turmoil, is likely to continue doing so. It is generating at least 2 million new and high-paying jobs, about half of them from increased foreign sales by the beleaguered manufacturing sector.

Fresh evidence of the trend came last month, when the second-quarter growth rate for the U.S. economy was revised upward, to 3.3 percent. A record surge in net exports accounted for almost all of that expansion. Since the housing and financial crises erupted in mid-2007, there has been a decline in final domestic demand. We would have been in recession throughout this period had we relied wholly on internal economic forces.

International trade has saved the day. Our external balance has improved by more than $200 billion as calculated for gross domestic product (GDP) purposes, cutting the previous deficit by more than one-third. This dramatic progress has kept the overall economy growing by modest amounts. The prophets of recession ignored the international engagement of the U.S. economy.