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Thursday, December 11, 2008

West Coast Ports: Export Traffic Falls to 2006 Levels

by Calculated Risk on 12/11/2008 05:36:00 PM

This is a scary chart ...

West Coast Port Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the combined loaded inbound and outbound traffic at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles 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.

Inbound traffic has peaked for the year as retailers have already imported most of the goods for the holiday season. Inbound traffic was 11% below last November. This slowdown in exports (inbound traffic to the U.S.) is hitting Asian countries hard.

But even more concerning for the U.S. is that export traffic is declining sharply. For the LA area ports, outbound traffic continued to decline in November, and was 18% below the level of November 2007. Export traffic is now at about the same level as in late 2006. So much for the export boom!

The key supports for the economy earlier this year - consumer spending, exports, and investment in non-residential structures - are all declining sharply now.