In January 2011, exported container counts were expanding with the fourth monthly historical high in a row – and up 13% YoY. In February 2011 – they were not even up 1% YoY.
Economic health of a country can be tracked by following the transport of goods and materials. If the goods transport is rising, the economy is improving. Conversely when goods transport is falling, the economy is contracting.
The Ports of LA and Long Beach account for much 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.
Containers come in many sizes so a uniform method is expressing the volume of containers is TEU – which is the volume of a standard 20 foot long sea container. So a standard 40 foot container would be 2 TEU.
Container imports were up over 7% YoY – only a modest improvement after last month’s 13% YoY improvement.
One month is not a trend – but this data was clearly not good for trade balance in February, with imports growing faster than exports.
USA Exporting Inflation by Steven Hansen
U.S. Trade Deficit Increased in January by Steven Hansen
Sea Containers Foretell a Growing USA Trade Gap by Steven Hansen
Exporting Jobs by John Lounsbury
USA Trade Deficit Exports 1.3 million Jobs by Steven Hansen