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The Onshoring Myth?

CAMBRIDGE – The decade that preceded the 2008 financial crisis was marked by massive global trade imbalances, as the United States ran large bilateral deficits, especially with China. Since the crisis reached its nadir, these imbalances have been partly reversed, with America’s trade deficit, as a share of GDP, declining from its 2006 peak of 5.5% to 3.4% in 2012, and China’s surplus shrinking from 7.7% to 2.8% over the same period. But is this a temporary adjustment, or is long-term rebalancing at hand?

Many have cited as evidence of more durable rebalancing the “onshoring” of US manufacturing that had previously relocated to emerging markets. Apple, for example, has established new plants in Texas and Arizona, and General Electric plans to move production of its washing machines and refrigerators to Kentucky.