Ring 'Em Up, Ship 'Em Out

U.S. companies, becalmed at home, register record sales abroad

With the U.S. economy stagnant and domestic sales hurting, boosting new markets overseas became a simple matter of survival for many U.S. firms. So far, their efforts have paid off handsomely. Exports have zoomed to record levels this year, a trend that has helped narrow the chronic U.S. trade deficit and provide the domestic economy with just enough vitality to avert a recession. "Thank goodness for exports," says Allen Sinai, chief economist with the Boston Co. Economic Advisers. "Without them, the U.S. economy would be dead in the water."

Statistics released last week show the U.S. trade picture brightening considerably. The...

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