econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 15 February 2016

January 2016 Sea Container Counts Begin the Year In Expansion

Written by Steven Hansen

2016 has started with container counts showing expansion - a better showing than what was seen in 2015. Imports had the best January since 2007, but the export improvement was only relative to the terrible 2015 levels. This series is a physical count and not monetary based - so inflation adjustments are not required.

This data set is based on the Ports of LA and Long Beach which account for much (approximately 40%) of the container movement into and out of the United States - and these two ports report their data significantly earlier than other USA ports. Most of the manufactured goods move between countries in sea containers (except larger rolling items such as automobiles). This pulse point is an early indicator of the health of the economy.

There is no question that the trend lines had been generally improving (even though exports were showing negative growth year-over-year in 2015). So in this sense, the current data is showing improvement. But also consider that growth is being compared to a relatively dismal 2015 for trade. Bottom line, at this point it seems trade is beginning to recover which could signal some economic improvement months from now.

Consider that imports final sales are added to GDP usually several months after import - while the import cost itself is subtracted from GDP in the month of import. Export final sales occur around the date of export. Container counts do not include bulk commodities such as oil or autos which are not shipped in containers. For this month:

Acceleration Month-over-Month Change from One Year Ago Year to Date vs. Previous Year 3 Month Rolling Average vs. Average One Year Ago Acceleration 3 Month Rolling Average
Imports +35.9 % +36.4 % +36.4 % +11.0 % +2.4 %
Exports +13.7 % +4.5 % +4.5 % +2.7 % -0.7 %

As the data is very noisy - the best way to look at this data is the 3 month rolling averages. There is a direct linkage between imports and USA economic activity - and the change in growth in imports foretells real change in economic growth. Export growth is an indicator of competitiveness and global economic growth.

The continued underperforming of exports is not a positive sign for GDP as the year progresses.

Unadjusted 3 Month Rolling Average for Container Counts Year-over-Year Change (comparing the 3 month average one year ago to the current 3 month average) - Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Combined - Imports (red line) and Exports (blue line)

z container4.PNG

There is reasonable correlation between the container counts and the US Census trade data also being analyzed by Econintersect. But trade data lags several months after the more timely container counts.

Unadjusted Year-over-Year Change in Container Counts - Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Combined - Imports (red line) and Exports (blue bars)

z container1.PNG

Econintersect considers import and exports significant elements in determining economic health (please see caveats below). The takeaway from the graphs below is that neither imports or exports have returned to pre-2007 recession levels.

Unadjusted Import Container Counts - Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Combined

z container2.PNG

Unadjusted Export Container Counts - Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Combined

z container3.png

Containers come in many sizes so a uniform method involves expressing the volume of containers in TEU, the volume of a standard 20 foot long sea container. Thus a standard 40 foot container would be 2 TEU.

There is a good correlation between container counts and trade data (the US Census trade data is shown on the graph below). Using container counts gives a two month advance window on trade data.

Inflation Adjusted Year-over-Year Change Imports (blue line) and Exports (red line)

Transport growth in general has been trending down since mid-year.

Caveats on the Use of Container Counts

These are extraordinary times with historical data confused by a massive depression and significant monetary and fiscal intervention by government. Further containers are a relatively new technology and had a 14 year continuous growth streak from 1993 to 2006. There is not enough history to make any associations with economic growth - and we must assume a correlation exists.

Further, it is impossible from this data to understand commodity or goods breakdown (e.g. what is the contents in the containers). Any expansion or contraction cannot be analyzed to understand causation.

Imports are a particularly good tool to view the Main Street economy. Imports overreact to economic changes much like a double ETF making movements easy to see.

Contracting imports historically is a recession marker, as consumers and businesses start to hunker down. Main Street and Wall Street are not necessarily in phase and imports can reflect the direction for Main Street when Wall Street may be saying something different. During some recessions, consumers and businesses hunkered down before the Wall Street recession hit - and in the 2007 recession the contraction began 10 months into the recession.

Above graph with current data (below):

Imports of Goods and Services

Econintersect determines the month-over-month change by subtracting the current month's year-over-year change from the previous month's year-over-year change. This is the best of the bad options available to determine month-over-month trends - as the preferred methodology would be to use multi-year data (but the New Normal effects and the Great Recession distort historical data).



>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<



Permanent link to most recent post on this topic

Click here for Historical Releases Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.







Econintersect Economic Releases


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Consumers Carry Weak GDP Number Out of the Red
The Theory of the Monetary Circuit: A Critique
News Blog
Infographic Of The Day: Global Energy Efficiency
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Lower, Oil Soft, Japan Deflation Strengthens, Trade Backlash, Trump Fades, Veto Override Reconsidered, DB Could Take Down Merkel And Euro, Germany's "Adolfina" And More
What Are British People Most Proud Of
Trust In Mass Media Erodes
Shimon Peres Was An Israeli Nationalist First And A Peacemaker Second
Guessing Game: Valuations Of Trump's Fortune
What We Read Today 29 September 2016
This Mushroom Starts Killing You Before You Even Realize It
August 2016 Median Household Income Has Declined From The Beginning Of The Year
August 2016 Pending Home Sales Index Declines?
24 September 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims: Rolling Averages Continue to Improve.
Third Estimate 2Q2016 GDP Revised Upward. Corporate Profits Down.
The Terrorist Networks At Our Fingertips
Investing Blog
Are You A Trader Or Investor?
Investing.com Technical Summary 29 September 2016
Opinion Blog
First: 'Over-Population End-of Times' Now: 'Shrinking Population Disaster'
The Federal Reserve Note
Precious Metals Blog
Where Silver Prices Are Headed Now After Fed's Latest Inaction
Live Markets
29Sep2016 Market Close: Wall Street Bracing For Major Turn Down If German Bank Fails, Crude Prices Rise Towards 50 Handle And US Dollar Showing New Strength
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved