Container traffic through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is up 7.2% for imports and 7.6% for exports YoY in April 2011.
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.
And sea container counts are proving to be a close proxy to the real monetary values of exports and imports – and their data is released a month earlier than the hard dollar data from the US Census.
So far in April 2011:
- Rail Traffic is Up 3.8% YoY (analysis here)
- Diesel Use for transport vehicles is up 1.28% YoY (analysis here)
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.
Exports have been at record levels for six of the last 7 months – although this month exports were in a dead heat with April 2008.
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.
Overall, counting things is showing the economy is still improving.
Diesel Usage Less Good – Is the Economy Slipping? by Steven Hansen
Railroads: April 2011 Is Less Good by Steven Hansen
Trucking Tonnage Increases in March 2011 by GEI News