Some thoughts and signs about the economy

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.

By ·

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, 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

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!

Article Topics

Economy · Trucking · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
B2B Sellers Prefer a Unified Approach for Ecommerce
A new study from Forrester Consulting, commissioned by NetSuite, found that many midmarket, B2B sellers say their ecommerce solutions have contributed to their growth in sales, new customer acquisitions and improved customer relationships.
Download Today!
From the August 2016 Issue
A growing number of low-cost lift trucks offer new avenues for pairing equipment and applications, but less cautious buyers might find that small up-front costs come at a steep price. Selecting the proper lift truck, lift truck tips 2016, Choosing the right Lift Truck
Megatrends in ocean freight
Ocean Cargo Roundtable: What’s in store for 2017?
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2016 Quest for Quality: Winners Take the Spotlight
Which carriers, third-party logistics providers and U.S. ports have crossed the service-excellence...
Regional ports concentrate on growth and connectivity
With the Panama Canal expansion complete, ocean cargo gateways in the Caribbean are investing to...

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...