Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!



Some thoughts and signs about the economy

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
November 23, 2011

A few economic indicators released this week were not new or jarring in terms of a “wow factor,” but they are telling at the same time.

One of these indicators is that according to the Department of Commerce third quarter GDP growth checked in at 2.0 percent, which is down from a previous estimate of 2.5 percent. I am sure we all wish that final tally had been 0.5 percent heading in the other direction, but what can you do?

The other one from Commerce told us that new orders for manufactured goods in October fell 0.7 percent to $197.7 billion and overall shipments were up 1.3 percent, while inventories were up 0.5 percent.

These numbers are pretty much status quo, given the slow growth occurring at the moment and many preceding months. But as the year comes to an end in a matter of weeks, we all would like to see more growth.

On a more positive front are solid export numbers in recent months, especially from the Port of Los Angeles, whom reported an all-time high in October exports. Some of this is due to a “cheaper” dollar, but it is a good sign.

And retail sales figure to show some strength very soon, with Black Friday (or is it now Black Thursday?) soon to be upon us. It stands to reason that November and December retail sales will be strong and definitely serve as a nice late in the year stimulus for the economy.

While things are far from perfect, we are slowly moving in the right direction, it seems. This is also bearing out in fairly decent truck tonnage and intermodal/rail carload numbers we have seen in recent weeks.

In regards to the truck tonnage volumes, I asked Chuck Clowdis from IHS Global Insight to offer up his take on the most recent batch of data from the American Trucking Associations, which stated that in October its advance seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage index increased 0.5 percent in October, following a revised 1.5 percent and was up 5.7 percent annually, whereas the non seasonally-adjusted index was down 0.8 percent from September and up 4.8 percent annually.

“The latest ATA tonnage numbers are slight but still encouraging,” said Clowdis. “We now need to see what holiday spending reveals. It has been especially difficult to take true measure of inventory levels and many are still rather low for this time of year.”

The changing patterns pertaining to inventory control and management are also creating an interesting supply chain dynamic, which, many industry stakeholders have told me, is creating a sort of “new normal.” As you probably know, retailers, especially, are being far more conservative with inventory levels than they have in the past—and with good reason.

In any event, it is worth keeping an eye on as we hopefully continue to see positive progress made on the recovery front.

Happy Thanksgiving from Newsroom Notes!

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
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. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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!

Recent Entries

Almost all companies today are aware of their labor or material costs... but what about energy consumption? It all comes down to having the energy data needed to determine what actions you must take to improve. The payoff is worth it, as insight into energy data allows you to make more valuable, relevant operating decisions.

With lower energy prices sparking domestic economic gains, coupled with solid manufacturing and industrial production activity, improving jobs numbers, and a GDP number that shows progress, there is, or there should be, much to be enthused about when it comes to the economy and the economic recovery, which has been raised and discussed and dissected from basically every angle possible, it seems. But that enthusiasm regarding the economy needs to be tempered, because big headline themes seldom tell the full story at all really.

The annualized turnover rate for large truckload carriers in the third quarter rose one percentage point to 97 percent, according to the ATA.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing employers at 29 ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents 20,000 dockworkers, have come to a tentative agreement on a key issue in ongoing contract negotiations.

Diesel prices continued their ongoing decline, with the average price per gallon falling 6.7 cents to $2.866 per gallon, according to data issued this week by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Article Topics

Blogs · Trucking · Economy · All topics

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA