This is certainly disappointing news. There is no better indicator of economic output to track than transportation numbers and what this indicates is that there is an overwhelming glut of capacity as a result of export output falling to unprecedented levels.
Freight rates for containers shipped from Asia to Europe have fallen to zero for the first time since records began, underscoring the dramatic collapse in trade since the world economy buckled in October.
I did my own investigative reporting on economic indicators over the weekend and what I uncovered was not encouraging.
At the local produce market where I regularly shop, I asked the manager what he was seeing. He told me that customer counts were constant but the average shopping basket had fallen by about 25%. Predictably, treats like candies and dried fruit (as well as Marianne’s Ice Cream… definitely worth trying btw) we suffering from the biggest declines, but organics were surprisingly holding their own with the help of price reductions to bring them more in line with non-organics.
Following the produce market I headed over to Hone Depot but not to talk with the store but rather the day laborers that regularly congregate in the parking lot. A few conversations later revealed that local contractor activity has fallen off precipitously, according to a few of the laborers I talked with as much as 80%. This could be a consequence of local contractors cutting costs and doing more of the work they would normally have hired a day laborer for on their own or it could be a function of the work simply not being there, it’s probably a little of both.