Riskiest Export Products for Severe Recession Losses

Bear market graphic with chart (courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Bearish demand (Pixabay.com)

Ninety-five percent among the world’s 250 most valuable exported goods endured shrinking global sales as the Great Recession crystalized into frightening reality from 2008 to 2009.

Based on our Searchable List of Most Valuable Exports During Great Recession found near the bottom of this article, more than 100 of the highest-value export products posted sales decreases exceeding 20% year over year.

While the financial crisis was paralyzing buyers around the world with fear, the overall value of exported goods fell by an average -22.7% from US$15.978 trillion in 2008 to $12.349 trillion one year later.

Still, the Great Recession impacted some exported products more than others. The following analysis highlights which products that suffered the most dramatic losses.

As famous American author Mark Twain wrote, “History does not repeat itself but it rhymes.” Therefore, it would be wise to monitor the following exports for signs of an impending future economic slowdown.

Recession-Sensitive Export Products

Below, you will find the 20 most valuable exported products suffering the highest loss rates from 2008 to 2009. The list is sorted in descending order based on percentage declines during the Great Recession (as shown within parentheses).

Leading the way are a handful of products related to the iron and steel industry as well as workhorse construction vehicles.

  1. Iron ferroalloys: US$16.3 billion (down -54.7% in 2009 from 2008)
  2. Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $24 billion (down -53.9%)
  3. Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished): $20.9 billion (down -53.9%)
  4. Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections: $11.6 billion (down -53.4%)
  5. Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods: $15.3 billion (down -51.1%)
  6. Fertilizer mixes: $12.1 billion (down -50.7%)
  7. Tractors: $29 billion (down -49.2%)
  8. Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products: $42.3 billion (down -48.6%)
  9. Potassic fertilizers: $10.3 billion (down -47.6%)
  10. Trailers: $13.9 billion (down -46.1%)
  11. Flat-rolled stainless steel items: $19.4 billion (down -45%)
  12. Copper wire: $12.5 billion (down -43.4%)
  13. Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes: $15.9 billion (down -42.8%)
  14. Trucks: $67.3 billion (down -42.8%)
  15. Crude oil: $861.7 billion (down -41.2%)
  16. Iron or steel scrap: $30.3 billion (down -41%)
  17. Natural rubber: $11.9 billion (down -40.4%)
  18. Aircraft, spacecraft: $78 billion (down -39.2%)
  19. Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels: $10.8 billion (down -39.1%)
  20. Aluminum oxide/hydroxide: $9.6 billion (down -39.1%)

The sole energy-specific export to appear among the top 20 losers is crude oil, typical of a slowing economic environment.

A wide range of transportation vehicles, from tractors and trailers to trucks, aerospace products and luxury boats, also posted hefty year-over-year declines. The Great Recession undoubtedly dampened worldwide demand for these relatively expensive goods which often require a longer-term payback commitment.

Perhaps more ominously, many of the declining export products are associated with industries that generate a formidable amount of labor employment and related discretionary consumer spending.


Searchable List of Most Valuable Exports During Great Recession

Presented below are the 250 top exported goods ranked by those with the highest value in 2009. Also shown is the percentage change in the value of exports for each product from 2008 to 2009.

You can change the presentation order by clicking the triangle icons at the top of the columns.

RankProductAmount (US$)2008-9
1. Crude oil$861,687,500,000-41.2%
2. Processed petroleum oils$513,056,843,000-35.2%
3. Cars$436,229,918,000-31.5%
4. Integrated circuits/microassemblies$314,579,620,000-9.5%
5. Medication mixes in dosage$300,936,725,000+2.2%
6. Phone system devices including smartphones$272,614,764,000-12.2%
7. Computers, optical readers$243,178,583,000-11.7%
8. Petroleum gases$225,062,637,000-34.8%
9. Automobile parts/accessories$219,406,355,000-25.9%
10. Computer parts, accessories$120,336,670,000-20.7%
11. Gold (unwrought)$114,901,672,000+10.3%
12. Cruise/cargo ships, barges$108,268,269,000+4.4%
13. TV receivers/monitors/projectors$103,067,109,000-18.4%
14. Printing machinery$97,177,082,000-15.6%
15. Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$83,844,559,000-23.2%
16. Coal, solid fuels made from coal$81,085,191,000-14.4%
17. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$79,568,468,000-14%
18. Aircraft, spacecraft$78,016,574,000-39.2%
19. Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)$78,001,269,000-3.2%
20. Turbo-jets$74,722,051,000-21.2%
21. Blood fractions (including antisera)$72,396,564,000+20.8%
22. Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$68,569,908,000-11.2%
23. Electrical converters/power units$68,264,570,000-14.4%
24. Insulated wire/cable$68,189,097,000-28.2%
25. Trucks$67,343,854,000-42.8%
26. Lower-voltage switches, fuses$64,464,889,000-21.9%
27. Miscellaneous furniture$58,813,798,000-17.7%
28. Taps, valves, similar appliances$57,039,209,000-19.4%
29. Iron ores, concentrates$56,389,827,000-14.9%
30. Machinery parts$56,364,573,000-27.3%
31. Rubber tires (new)$54,057,687,000-14.5%
32. TV/radio/radar device parts$53,731,199,000-21.7%
33. Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$53,494,391,000+4.1%
34. Jewelry$50,455,473,000-4.1%
35. Unrecorded sound media$50,114,838,000-16.4%
36. Air or vacuum pumps$49,549,076,000-17.4%
37. Miscellaneous machinery$49,159,883,000-24.6%
38. Ethylene polymers$48,973,740,000-19.1%
39. Refined copper, unwrought alloys$47,179,647,000-13.9%
40. Aircraft parts$46,669,155,000-29.2%
41. Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)$45,445,086,000-15.1%
42. Piston engine parts$43,664,830,000-27.9%
43. Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$43,380,957,000-19.4%
44. Liquid pumps and elevators$43,283,354,000-20.3%
45. TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$42,874,046,000-26.1%
46. Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$42,347,472,000-48.6%
47. Miscellaneous plastic items$41,405,437,000-14.5%
48. Footwear (leather)$40,943,910,000-15.1%
49. Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)$40,556,666,000-10.5%
50. Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$39,740,742,000-17.2%
51. Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$39,447,962,000-16.5%
52. Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$39,440,471,000-16.3%
53. Orthopedic appliances$37,553,335,000+2.3%
54. Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$37,211,205,000-20.4%
55. Table games, bowling equipment$36,400,549,000-19.8%
56. Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$35,585,644,000-14.5%
57. Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$35,035,889,000-24%
58. Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)$34,987,109,000-15.6%
59. Chemical industry products/residuals$34,535,720,000-19.2%
60. Engines (diesel)$33,912,769,000-35.7%
61. Electric motors, generators$33,904,709,000-22.1%
62. Temperature-change machines$33,082,739,000-17.1%
63. Soya beans$33,073,377,000-5.8%
64. Aluminum (unwrought)$33,068,376,000-36.4%
65. Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$32,936,139,000-36.3%
66. Cases, handbags, wallets$32,891,037,000-12.1%
67. Electrical energy$32,808,288,000-19.4%
68. Wheat$32,079,778,000-28.4%
69. Refrigerators, freezers$31,799,526,000-21.3%
70. Copper ores, concentrates$31,428,803,000-6.5%
71. T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)$31,184,665,000-13.6%
72. Miscellaneous iron or steel items$31,175,021,000-27.7%
73. Printed circuits$30,567,396,000-17.4%
74. Iron or steel scrap$30,288,710,000-41%
75. Cyclic hydrocarbons$30,210,421,000-24.5%
76. Electric water heaters, hair dryers$29,622,978,000-15%
77. Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$29,242,017,000-14.7%
78. Tractors$29,019,589,000-49.2%
79. Coated paper$28,581,472,000-17.5%
80. Piston engines$27,828,992,000-26.2%
81. Physical/chemical analysis tools$27,777,849,000-3.8%
82. Propylene/olefin polymers$27,107,640,000-20.8%
83. Air conditioners$27,023,419,000-22.5%
84. Iron or steel tubes, pipes$26,781,029,000-37.1%
85. Wine:$25,605,371,000-14.5%
86. Electrical machinery$25,009,719,000-15.4%
87. Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$24,017,298,000-53.9%
88. Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$23,993,377,000-9.4%
89. Electric storage batteries$23,934,589,000-21.4%
90. Sawn wood$23,738,195,000-23%
91. Swine meat$23,519,969,000-12.3%
92. Palm oil$23,306,851,000-23.1%
93. Platinum (unwrought)$23,206,137,000-33.6%
94. Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$23,036,208,000-19.9%
95. Cheese, curd$22,987,507,000-15.1%
96. Other food preparations$22,323,390,000-4.8%
97. Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$22,152,395,000-18.8%
98. Regulate/control instruments$22,092,539,000-19.8%
99. Ball, roller bearings$22,026,108,000-28.8%
100. Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$21,996,972,000-3.4%
101. Other organic cleaning preparations$21,992,416,000-10.1%
102. Uncoated paper for writing/printing$21,958,773,000-15.6%
103. Machinery for making semi-conductors$21,661,564,000-31.2%
104. Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines:$21,651,687,000-20.6%
105. Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$21,545,739,000-5.6%
106. Soya-bean oil-cake, other solid residues$21,533,789,000+2.6%
107. Sugar (cane or beet)$21,451,218,000+14.4%
108. Women's clothing (knit or crochet)$20,937,829,000+3.5%
109. Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)$20,862,248,000-53.9%
110. Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys$20,777,150,000-12.7%
111. Other measuring/testing machines$20,559,646,000-24.6%
112. Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$20,526,005,000-12.3%
113. Packaged insecticides/fungicides/herbicides$20,439,438,000-17.3%
114. Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$20,351,340,000-29.1%
115. Microphones/headphones/amps$20,117,351,000-18.4%
116. Corn$19,995,825,000-26.4%
117. Electric generating sets, converters$19,874,868,000-17.3%
118. Coffee$19,841,502,000-9.5%
119. Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$19,654,699,000-4.8%
120. Cigars/cigarellos, cigarettes$19,540,076,000-5.7%
121. Video recording equipment$19,413,732,000-2.2%
122. Flat-rolled stainless steel items$19,411,482,000-45%
123. Rice$19,213,989,000-9.9%
124. Footwear (rubber or plastic)$19,041,112,000-3.3%
125. Poultry meat$18,937,185,000-9.2%
126. Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$18,920,971,000-36.2%
127. Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)$18,854,568,000-27.2%
128. Miscellaneous heterocyclics$18,777,087,000-25%
129. Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$18,641,411,000-18.3%
130. Base metal mountings, fittings$18,487,021,000-23.8%
131. Electric motor parts$18,475,550,000-8%
132. Lifting/loading machinery$18,297,073,000-26.9%
133. Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$18,196,127,000-5.9%
134. X-ray equipment$18,057,252,000-9.1%
135. Electrical capacitators$17,933,635,000-19.3%
136. Acyclic alcohols$17,930,609,000-35.2%
137. Other diagnostic/lab reagents$17,859,935,000-0.8%
138. Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$17,851,919,000-35.8%
139. Styrene polymers$17,664,014,000-27.2%
140. Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$17,655,056,000-16.9%
141. Sports equipment$17,501,331,000-14.6%
142. Fresh or chilled beef$17,441,410,000-8.7%
143. Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$17,407,791,000-5.7%
144. Light vessels, fire boats, floating docks$17,361,917,000-1.1%
145. Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$16,697,615,000-17%
146. Paper containers, cellulose wadding$16,658,438,000-9.6%
147. Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing$16,592,531,000-6.2%
148. Iron ferroalloys$16,253,717,000-54.7%
149. Printed books, brochures$16,110,300,000-13.1%
150. Nitrogenous fertilizers$16,006,325,000-34.4%
151. Rubber/plastic article making machines$15,955,872,000-33%
152. Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$15,903,214,000-17.6%
153. Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$15,886,422,000-42.8%
154. Filament/discharge lamps$15,834,009,000-14.4%
155. Cellulose fiber paper$15,752,377,000-10.3%
156. Sort/screen/washing machinery$15,442,403,000-29.7%
157. Motorcycles$15,425,482,000-32%
158. Fish fillets, pieces$15,363,801,000-4.1%
159. Iron or non-alloy steel bars, rods$15,341,894,000-51.1%
160. Precious metal waste, scrap$15,112,100,000-17.3%
161. Whole fish (frozen)$15,071,111,000+0.2%
162. Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)$15,024,363,000-18.4%
163. Crustaceans (including lobsters)$14,866,006,000-3.3%
164. Vulcanized rubber items$14,818,367,000-20.9%
165. Harvest/threshing machinery$14,658,928,000-25.2%
166. Acyclic hydrocarbons$14,651,771,000-34.2%
167. Linens$14,591,733,000-11.4%
168. Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$14,490,021,000-36.7%
169. Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$14,409,800,000-24.5%
170. Pneumatic hand tool$14,391,066,000-28.8%
171. Interchangeable hand/machine tools$14,190,021,000-23.7%
172. Trailers$13,940,489,000-46.1%
173. Derricks, cranes$13,524,456,000-30.1%
174. Synthetic rubber$13,400,077,000-26.5%
175. Iron or steel pipe fittings$13,381,678,000-30.3%
176. Silver (unwrought)$13,287,911,000-16.7%
177. Copper waste, scrap$13,242,442,000-29.2%
178. Telecommunication receivers$13,229,272,000-27.1%
179. Iron and steel tubes, pipes$13,148,604,000-15%
180. Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$13,077,227,000-18.4%
181. Vinyl chloride polymers$13,014,333,000-24.6%
182. Radar, radio communication items$12,901,628,000-17.8%
183. Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$12,900,141,000-13%
184. Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$12,788,149,000-23.9%
185. Liquid/gas checking instruments$12,787,673,000-17.6%
186. Moulding boxes/base$12,750,153,000-17.5%
187. Perfumes, toilet waters$12,731,213,000-16.6%
188. Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)$12,707,936,000-11.7%
189. Antibiotics$12,704,633,000+1.7%
190. Fruit and vegetable juices$12,693,723,000-17.2%
191. Copper wire$12,512,068,000-43.4%
192. Polycarboxylic acids$12,481,502,000-21.4%
193. Amino-compounds (oxygen)$12,479,156,000-8%
194. Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods$12,456,000,000+0.04%
195. Other machine parts, accessories$12,325,628,000-36.5%
196. Radioactive chemical elements$12,319,468,000-8.4%
197. Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$12,198,782,000-32.8%
198. Motorcycle parts/accessories$12,182,738,000-20.3%
199. Electric ignition/start equipment$12,179,247,000-18.9%
200. Public-transport vehicles$12,090,140,000-28.6%
201. Petroleum oil residues$12,067,827,000-26.3%
202. Fertilizer mixes$12,066,891,000-50.7%
203. Special purpose vehicles$12,055,496,000-28.4%
204. Washing machines$12,050,730,000-13.6%
205. Natural rubber$11,905,567,000-40.4%
206. Synthetic filament yarn$11,832,641,000-23.8%
207. Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$11,765,906,000-8.3%
208. Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)$11,694,883,000-13.9%
209. Whole fish (fresh)$11,622,930,000-0.2%
210. Iron or non-alloy steel angles, shapes, sections$11,585,795,000-53.4%
211. Frozen beef$11,543,032,000-13.7%
212. Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$11,400,358,000-5.2%
213. Men's shirts (not knit or crochet)$11,397,518,000-13.5%
214. Woven cotton fabrics$11,304,605,000-16.4%
215. Aluminum bars/rods$11,302,952,000-26.9%
216. Unmanufactured tobacco, tobacco waste$11,261,706,000+10%
217. Wood carpentry, builders' joinery$11,062,941,000-22.2%
218. Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution$11,044,941,000-17.8%
219. Sound reproducing/recording parts, accessories$10,883,782,000-28%
220. Miscellaneous engines, motors$10,802,151,000-27.3%
221. Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$10,797,030,000-25.3%
222. Yachts, other pleasure/sports vessels$10,792,186,000-39.1%
223. Other than warp-knit fabrics$10,790,720,000-11.3%
224. Miscellaneous aluminum items$10,694,732,000-27.2%
225. Miscellaneous printed matter including photos$10,597,568,000-17.5%
226. Malt beer$10,492,115,000-6.1%
227. Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery$10,459,071,000-26.9%
228. Hydraulic cements$10,441,709,000-10%
229. Mattresses, quilts$10,347,825,000-8.6%
230. Footwear (textile)$10,314,154,000-0.6%
231. Potassic fertilizers$10,279,854,000-47.6%
232. Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)$10,271,311,000-9.3%
233. Hand-drawn paintings, drawings$10,267,633,000-30.5%
234. Fresh or dried citrus fruit$10,249,742,000-2.2%
235. Women's coats, jackets (not knit or crochet)$10,078,829,000-12.2%
236. Hair preparations$10,064,764,000-0.2%
237. Hydrogen, rare gases$9,998,389,000-26.7%
238. Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables$9,996,179,000-1.2%
239. Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)$9,981,808,000-10.5%
240. Chemicals used in electronics$9,963,106,000-29.6%
241. Ethers$9,820,696,000-17.5%
242. Coated/laminated non-wovens$9,742,879,000-13.4%
243. Synthetic organic coloring$9,682,883,000-20.4%
244. Rough wood$9,677,818,000-29.1%
245. Aluminum oxide/hydroxide$9,616,963,000-39.1%
246. Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)$9,593,415,000-28.5%
247. Glazed ceramic tiles, cubes$9,535,446,000-16.9%
248. Plastic tableware, kitchenware, toiletry$9,483,748,000-10.2%
249. Nickel (unwrought)$9,337,313,000-34.7%
250. Monument/building stones, art$9,309,331,000-14.9%

To browse winning or losing products by percentage gains or losses, please click on the column heading titled “2008-9”.

See also Most Valuable Recession-Proof Export Products, Great Recession International Trade Losses by Country and World’s Richest Export Countries

Research Sources:
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Why Was the Decline in U.S. Trade Larger This Time? A Global View. Accessed on August 25, 2019

International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 25, 2019

Wikipedia, Financial crisis of 2007-2008. Accessed on August 25, 2019

Wikipedia, Great Recession. Accessed on August 25, 2019