To give Adam Smith’s case against mercantilism in extreme concision: imports are Christmas morning; exports are January’s MasterCard bill.
DBx: Very nicely said.
The essential point here is not that imports are paid for with borrowed funds; sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. The essential point is that imports are the goal – the ultimate purpose – of trade, and exports are the means of achieving this goal.
In short, imports are a benefit; exports are the cost of obtaining that benefit. Incurring this cost in order to reap a higher benefit means that incurring this cost is worthwhile, but it does not mean that this cost is the benefit.