June 2015 Sea Container Counts Slump and Still Indicate Weak Economic Conditions

By Stephen Hansen at Global Economic Intersect

The data for this series continues to be weak. The year-to-date volumes contracting for both imports and exports. This continues to indicate weak economic conditions domestically and globally.

Consider that imports final sales are added to GDP usually several months after import – while the import cost itself is subtracted from GDP in the month of import. Export final sales occur around the date of export. Container counts do not include bulk commodities such as oil or autos which are not shipped in containers. For this month:

As the data is very noisy – the best way to look at this data is the 3 month rolling averages. There is a direct linkage between imports and USA economic activity – and the change in growth in imports foretells real change in economic growth. Export growth is an indicator of competitiveness and global economic growth.

The continued underperforming of exports is not a positive sign for GDP as the year progresses.

Unadjusted 3 Month Rolling Average for Container Counts Year-over-Year Change (comparing the 3 month average one year ago to the current 3 month average) – Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Combined – Imports (red line) and Exports (blue line)

z container4.PNG

There is reasonable correlation between the container counts and the US Censustrade data also being analyzed by Econintersect. But trade data lags several months after the more timely container counts.

Unadjusted Year-over-Year Change in Container Counts – Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Combined – Imports (red line) and Exports (blue bars)

z container1.PNG

Econintersect considers import and exports significant elements in determining economic health (please see caveats below). The takeaway from the graphs below is that neither imports or exports have returned to pre-2007 recession levels.

Unadjusted Import Container Counts – Ports of Los Angeles and Long

Originally appeared at: http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/june-2015-sea-container-counts-slump-and-still-indicate-weak-economic-conditions/