Thursday, January 15, 2009

LA Area Port Traffic Collapses in December

by Bill McBride on 1/15/2009 09:05:00 PM

Both imports and exports declined sharply in November, but just wait until we see the December trade numbers. Based on LA area port traffic numbers released today, trade volumes collapsed in December.

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 was 19% below last December. This slowdown in exports (inbound traffic to the U.S.) is hitting Asian countries hard.

But even more shocking and important for the U.S. economy is that export traffic has collapsed. For the LA area ports, outbound traffic continued to decline in December, and was 30% below the level of December 2007. Export traffic is now at about the same level as in late 2005. So much for the export boom!

Now it is the export bust.