Chart of the Week: Container volumes at the Port of Los Angeles

Macro

Christopher Dembik

Head of Macro Analysis

Summary:  A major trade indicator is sending a warning signal about the U.S. economy.


Over the weekend, the Port of Los Angeles has published its latest data about monthly container statistics. Without much surprise, it is very ugly. The drop in container volumes at Port of Los Angeles is reaching minus 22.87% in February, which is the worst monthly performance since February 2009. It is of strong significance for the U.S. economy as the Port of Los Angeles is the number one port in the U.S. in terms of container volume and value. We have a clear confirmation that supply chains disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak are becoming more visible and, based on preliminary data, are likely to get worse. Statistics for the month of March, that should be released around April 15, should confirm the Port of Los Angeles is going through a terrible time this month. Adding to that severe disruptions on the consumer side that are likely to get stronger, especially regarding discretionary consumption which represents nearly 40% of GDP, and you get a perfect storm for a recession. The only pending question at this stage is the size of the drop.

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