No shaking the second half swoon

For the past three years, we have seen our hopes rise when it comes to the economic recovery….in the first half of the year anyhow. But that seems to change when the second half comes, and this year may be no exception.

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For the past three years, we have seen our hopes rise when it comes to the economic recovery….in the first half of the year anyhow.

But that seems to change when the second half comes, and this year may be no exception.

What was the reason behind sluggish transportation volumes in the second half of 2010, following such a strong first half of that year, which was largely fueled by a significant inventory re-build? Or last year, when things were seemingly getting better through mid-year, but then segued into the current state we are in today (and really have been for a while now): one which is hard to define, replete with stops and starts, false signs of optimism, and other hard-to-gauge indicators, which only add to the confusion.

One constant we have seen during this bumpy ride was the strong output being seen on the manufacturing front, especially on a domestic basis, for more than 3 years. But that may be in peril now, too, given that today’s manufacturing report from the Institute of Supply Management showed a contraction from May to June.

One month does not make a trend, but it another thing that needs to be watched and monitored in the coming quarters to be certain.

Let’s hope the downward trend in this report is not lasting, as there is clearly already enough to be concerned about these days, whether it be jobs, housing, sluggish retail sales, and GDP growth, and, of course, what is happening in Europe these days, which is quickly turning from scary to flat out frightening, really.

Yes, there are things to be concerned about, but there is also a healthy amount of optimism in the air, too. Consumer confidence has been fairly strong, with gas prices dropping almost weekly, which lends to more, um, consumer confidence. And freight transportation and supply chain stakeholder have said that business conditions “feel” better than a year ago at this time, even if the numbers don’t always bear this out.

While we are still figuring out what to make of the economy and subsequently the facets of it that have a direct effect of supply chain management and logistics, it remains true that while things could certainly be better, they could also be worse and have been. If you question that, feel free, but also consider just how bad things were in 2009 before doing so. 


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
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

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