USA Exports Continue Strong in November 2010

The greens shoot in the economy – exports – is again in a growth cycle.  This month exports of sea containers were at a historical high for November.  This is the second historical high in a row.

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.

Imports into the USA continued well below the pre-recession peaks.  The sea container counts appear flat – not growing or contracting.

The takeaway from this data should be a continuing narrowing of the trade deficit (excluding energy) when the data is released for the month of November 2010.

With oil prices pushing up to the $90 a barrel area, import costs for energy continue to be a huge factor in the U.S. trade balance deficit.

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