Imports Collapse At East Coast Ports

If anyone needed another indicator that global trade is collapsing, look no further than the latest Port Authority of New York and New Jersey report on loaded imports for May.

On Tuesday the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reported that May loaded imports fell to 268,861 twenty-foot equivalent units, down 4.7% y/y. The total volume of containers passing through the port fell by 6.1% in May as well.  Additionally, other major ports saw y/y declines as well. As the WSJ reports, loaded import volumes fell 2.3% y/y in May at the Port of Virginia, and total volumes were down 4.7%. At the port of Savannah, the East Coast's second largest port of entry for goods after New York, loaded imports fell 5% y/y, while total throughput was down 7.3% the Georgia Ports Authority said.

With imports imploding, ocean shipping lines have been reducing the number of regular service calls in recent months, a clear indicator that they believe demand will remain weak for the foreseeable future until the new school year begins, which is typically when imports peak. However, that may not be the case this year says Ben Hackett, CEO of Hackett Associates, LLC, a research firm.

"The peak season has disappeared. Carriers have already taken out capacity, and if there was a strong peak season coming, they wouldn't do that. It's partly overall trade declining, but it's also that importers simply bought too much." Hackett said.

Said otherwise, demand has slumped and companies have too much inventory as it is - which is precisely what we showed earlier this month when we reported that wholesale inventories had the biggest monthly jump in 10 months, with sales disappointing.

The absolute spread between inventory and sales continues to remain wide

And although the inventory-to-sales ratio did drop modestly in April, the only time this ratio was higher was in the immediate aftermath of Lehman

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Just when the "everything is fine" narrative was on its last legs...