Friday, October 15, 2010

LA Port Traffic in September: Imports Strong, Exports Stalled

by Bill McBride on 10/15/2010 04:18:00 PM

Notes: this data is not seasonally adjusted. There is a very distinct seasonal pattern for imports, but not for exports. LA area ports handle about 40% of the nation's container port traffic.

The following graph shows the loaded inbound and outbound traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in TEUs (TEUs: 20-foot equivalent units or 20-foot-long cargo container). Although containers tell us nothing about value, container traffic does give us an idea of the volume of goods being exported and imported.

LA Area Port Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Loaded inbound traffic was up 24% compared to September 2009.

Loaded outbound traffic was up 5% from September 2009.

For imports, there is a clear seasonal pattern and frequently a double peak - first in late summer, and then in October as retailers build inventory for the holiday season - so part of this decrease in September imports is just the normal seasonal pattern. And imports will probably increase in October.

For exports there is no clear seasonal pattern, and it appears exports have stalled or even be declining.

Not only have the pre-crisis global imbalances returned, but exports appear to have peaked in May (no clear seasonal pattern), and have moved down over the last 7 months.