Panjiva data shows seasonal growth, but long-term economic concerns linger

By Jeff Berman · August 15, 2011

Even though there are more questions than answers when it comes to the economy and its growth rate, data from Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers, showed a seasonal increase in the number of United States-bound waterborne shipments.

Based on its data, Panjiva saw a 5 percent gain in U.S.-bound shipments from June to July, coming in at 1,079,009. This follows 7 and 8 percent gains in April and May, respectively, and a 1 percent dip in June. On an annual basis, July shipments were down 1.2 percent from July 2010 at 1,092,255.

And the number of global manufacturers shipping to the U.S. in July at 149,759 represented a 2 percent increase from June. Panjiva said this is in line with a flat gain from the same period a year ago and 7 percent and 6 percent gains, respectively, in 2009 and 2008.

“The shipment numbers are pretty good although we are still facing significant headwinds,” said Panjiva CEO Josh Green in an interview. “That said, it is hard to have a lot of optimism for the second half of this year, but if history is any guide we are likely to see more seasonal increases from July to August.”

But if consumer confidence ends up eroding further, shipment numbers are likely to follow suite and will be reflected with low inventories, said Green.

Should things not improve significantly on the economic front for the remainder of the calendar year, Green said things could fall off precipitously in the second half, as lower shipments reflect orders that retailers are making now.

“The holiday season will be decisive as we head into 2012, and if it turns out that consumers were reasonably resilient in the face of all these economic headwinds, I think people will breathe a sigh of relief that we are not entering a double-dip recession and get back to building their businesses,” he said. “But if consumers pull back, which leads to a double-dip, it will be a while before there is again sustained growth again. The key thing people want to know is if we have hit bottom yet, and consumers will be a bellwether of the holiday season.”

And even with signs of seasonal growth apparent in Panjiva’s most recent batch of data, the economy, especially in recent weeks, still appears to be on shaky ground. Reasons for this vary, but some of the primary ones include: high unemployment, a sluggish housing market, the aftermath of the resolved U.S. debt ceiling crisis and the subsequent downgrading of the nation’s credit rating by Standard and Poor’s.

What’s more, export growth, a primary driver of the White House’s economic recovery plan, saw downward figures, with U.S. exports falling 2.3 percent to $171 billion from May to June, according to the United States Department of Commerce. June imports dropped 0.8 percent in June to $224 billion, putting the trade deficit at $53.1 billion which is the biggest gap in imports and exports since October 2008.


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

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