First, the biggest deficits (data for 2010, in billions of dollars):
Washington: -$86 billion
Miami: -$68 billion
San Francisco: -$41 billion
Atlanta: -$35 billion
Baltimore: -$33 billion
…Next, the biggest surpluses:
Los Angeles: +$63 billion
Memphis: +$29 billion
Greensboro: +$18 billion
Corpus Christi: +$18 billion
New Orleans: +$15 billion
Buffalo/Niagara Falls also has a sizable trade surplus as a percent of its gdp.
Which is the better list to be on? Very often the surplus or deficit has a lot to do with demographics and population changes:
Now, I don’t think many people would consider New Orleans an economic winner. In fact, its population declined 11 percent from 2000 to 2010, partly because of Katrina, but also because of wider problems. And that very decline means that savings generated in New Orleans go elsewhere in search of returns.
That is from Paul Krugman at the NYT. When it comes to Australia, by the way, one reason the country can run perpetual trade deficits, without inducing a financial crisis, is because of its rapidly growing population.
You might be interested in this Andrea Ferrero piece from the 2010 JME:
This paper investigates the contribution of productivity growth, demographics and fiscal policy in accounting for the evolution of the US external imbalances against industrialized countries during the last three decades. Productivity growth plays a dominant role. Demographics explain a non-negligible and nearly permanent component of the US trade deficit. Furthermore, the international demographic transition is crucial for large US external imbalances to be consistent with the persistent decline of world real interest rates observed in the data. Fiscal policy is of minor importance.
Productivity growth matters because foreign countries wish to invest capital in countries, such as the U.S., which employ it relatively well.