Saturday, June 19, 2010

Seattle Shipping Boom: +44.3% YTD from 2009

The chart above shows monthly shipping volume (TEUs = twenty-foot equivalent units, data here) at the Port of Seattle (America's 10th largest port, and third largest port on the West Coast).  As might be expected, shipping at the Seattle port is dominated by trade with China, to the extent that more than half (56%) of the shipping volume (by dollar amount) is with China, and the almost $19 billion of shipping with China in 2009 was more than the value of shipping with the next 100 countries combined.   

Shipping volume for May (198,175 TEUs) was 57.4% above last year's shipping in May, and this follows year-to-year increases of 57.2% in April, 39.4% in March, 48.2% in February and 21.7% in January.  Year-to-date, shipping volume at the Seattle port in 2010 is above last year by 44.3%.  At this pace, annual Seattle shipping in 2010 will likely exceed both last year's shipping volume of 1.58 million TEUs and the 1.7 million TEUs in 2008.   


At 6/19/2010 12:04 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

" the extent that more than half (56%) of the shipping volume (by dollar amount) is with China, and the almost $19 billion of shipping with China in 2009 was more than the value of trade with the next 100 countries combined..."

The 56% shipping volume with China reflects the approx. 60% amount that China accounts for in U.S. trade deficit figures.

In reading the Seattle Port stats for May, 2010: Empty In containers were up 3.7% BUT Empty Out containers were up 203.9%! Yes, empty containers move around but they are headed the wrong way in a massive way. Yikes, we may be headed back to delusional consumerism without the production to suuport it.

We need to get our goods into the hands of Chinese consmers so that we can buy more Chinese goods -- and be able to pay for them.

At 6/19/2010 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't use just the Seattle numbers. They need the Tacoma numbers with them too. When one port is busy new traffic goes to the other one 35 miles away. A chart of their monthly volume has almost perfect negative correlation as the two lines look like a spiral.

At 6/20/2010 3:18 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

Thai exports Surge-Bloomberg

Shipments jumped 42.1 percent in May from a year earlier to $16.56 billion, Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said in Nonthaburi province on the outskirts of Bangkok today. The median estimate of eight economists in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 34 percent gain. Exports surged 35.2 percent in April, according to previously reported figures.

At 6/21/2010 9:20 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

It seems to me that the comparisons against May 2009 are very easy. A better view of how the economy is doing might be a comparison with May 2008, before the crisis began.

At 6/21/2010 9:35 AM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

VangelV: The Port of Seattle doesn't provide monthly stats before 2009, only annual. So I did the best I could with the stats available, and compared YTD this year vs. last year, and also predicted that if the current trend continues, shipping in 2010 should exceed both 2009 and 2008.

At 6/21/2010 10:55 AM, Blogger VangelV said...


What you predict may come to pass but I still think that most of your postings are too optimistic when compared to the actual reality. The simple fact is that we would expect that many of the indicators will improve when we use a very low period as a baseline. The trick is to see the improvement take hold and to see economic activity increase from here.

The problem with those expectations is the actual reality.

We still have bankrupt state governments that will have trouble funding their activities.

We have bond markets that will have to react to the growth of US government, growing deficits, two ongoing wars, etc.

We have seen Chinese workers demand and get more money. We have seen Chinese consumption of oil increase by 15% over a 12 month period and Chinese companies scour the planet to buy energy companies and sign delivery contracts with producers.

At the same time as the Chinese have gone out looking for more oil the US government has decided to stop drilling activities in the Gulf, off the east and west coasts, and on federal owned land. The US is now more dependent on imports than it was during the Arab embargo. And as this is happening the new rigs with the most modern technology are heading to Greenland, Israel, Brazil, Nigeria, Angola, the Persian Gulf, and elsewhere. They will not be back to American waters for some time and the jobs that go with them will not be back either.

I am sorry to point this out to you but I find that you are too eager to see the positive and not willing to see the negative. From where I stand I see any improvement as temporary because the malinvestments have yet to be cleared from the economy. The US has too many companies doing things that too few consumers demand and too many regulatory barriers to permit new companies to create jobs. With all the meddling, the creative destruction process that is the basis of free market capitalism is not permitted to work as it is supposed to.

The bottom line is that the actual liquidation and contraction that is necessary to heal the economy has not been permitted to take place. Without it the USD will have trouble over the long term even as it has great moves to the upside on occasion for technical reasons. Having seen several sharp devaluations first hand, I do not believe that the USD is immune to adjusting to reality.


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