The New York Times Economix blog post The Quiet Driver of Economic Growth: Exports covers the steady growth in the percent of U.S. GDP generated by exports. The chart below is from the article.
Most interesting is their explanation for the rise in exports - domestic problems. Key quote:
Much of the rise in exports is a consequence of domestic problems. The value of the dollar has declined, so that foreigners save money when they buy American. Businesses, struggling to find customers here, are focusing on foreign sales. And a boom in commodity prices, which has raised the price of life for most Americans, has produced a windfall for those who trade in commodities.
While I don't totally disagree, talk about your "half glass empty" explanation.
We've been following the growth of exports for years and prefer a "half glass full" explanation:
1. Growth in the developing world is creating new opportunities for U.S. exporters.
2. U.S. companies are increasingly recognizing these opportunities and exploiting them.
3. The U.S. industrial mix of high tech products, high quality manufactured goods and commodities is well positioned to take advantage of export opportunities going forward.
We're very optimistic about America's ability to compete in global markets. This is not a result of domestic problems, but instead the result of a dynamic, innovative, high productivity economy.