Here’s to cautious (economic) optimism

By Jeff Berman · February 18, 2011

If you read my blog often, you probably know one of my favorite things to write about is the economy.

That said, it is no secret that since, say, September 2008, when Wall Street nearly melted down, it has been one heck of an interesting ride. And one need not look too far before that to January 2008, when literally thousands of Americans were losing their jobs on a daily basis pretty much.

During the entire Great Recession, there was much discussed about our new reality and myriad questions about what the future may hold. Well, fast forward a little more than two years later and you can tell that things are better. Not great, just better. And to be honest, that is a good thing.

As I have discussed before housing and unemployment remain a drag on the economy, but there are other things happening that are positive, including higher U.S. export volumes, the slow process of credit availability becoming more prevalent, sequential increases in GDP growth, promising manufacturing data showing strong momentum, and favorable forecasting from the Federal Reserve this week calling for the output of goods and services in 2011 to grow in the 3.4-to-3.9 percent range, up from November’s estimate of 3-to-3.6 percent. Should that revised estimate hold serve, it would represent the best annual increase since 2004.

If those data points don’t excite you, please allow me to try one more.

Earlier this week, the National Retail Federation (NRF) released its 2011 economic forecast, and the news is good. According to the NRF, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) will increase 4.0 percent from 2010.

This estimate comes on the heels of data released by NRF and the Department of Commerce last Monday, which cited improving retail sales for the seventh straight month, with Commerce reporting that January was the best month for retail sales since November 2007.

While there is a long way to go, there are some good signs and metrics out there. I know we are all very tired of the term “cautious optimism,” but it applies here once again.

It is a phrase that people tell me quite often, when I am conducting interviews or am on the road at an industry conference. The majority of people telling me to be cautiously optimistic are the one in the trenches every day moving freight and providing transportation and logistics services for shippers or are shippers, so I am inclined to stick with what they are saying.

Here’s hoping that they are right and that things continue to get better.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo