Economy Watch

While economists debate the growth and prospects of the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, their global container trade volumes reflect many of the difficulties that have been the focus of headlines around the world.

Preliminary highway safety data showing deaths caused by U.S. traffic accidents spiked 9.5 percent year-over-year in the first quarter and rose 30 percent over the course of 2014 could add pressure on Congress to hold firm on or even tighten regulation affecting truck and overall highway safety.

China’s devaluation of the yuan may not kick off a currency war around the world, but it’s already triggered similar moves in Asia, and that’s potentially great news for U.S. retailers, the dominant importers of U.S. containerized products such as apparel, footwear and furniture.

Demand for transportation and warehouse workers remained strong in June, as the economy grew faster than expected. U.S. data show employers kept more of the workers they hired as well.

Sue Abt artwork
When China devalued its currency in mid-August after a 10-year run-up against the dollar, the People’s Bank of China described the move as a natural step toward the creation of a market dominated Chinese exchange rate. No one in the market — not importers, exporters, manufacturers, investors or analysts — bought the message. Global stocks and commodity markets sold off at an astonishing rate, triggered by fears that China could launch a prolonged currency war that would boost its own exports at the expense of those it buys from, including the U.S.

U.S. retailers and manufacturers are slicing into inventories they built up during the West Coast port labor dispute, contributing to what's reported to be a softer third-quarter freight market. Stronger consumer spending may help shippers balance inventories as peak season demand picks up.

U.S. West Coast congestion roiled retailer rollouts of spring product lines even after employers and longshoremen ended their showdown in late February, executives told investors during recent second-quarter earnings calls.

An empty shelf in a big box store may be a retail logistics manager’s worst nightmare, but it’s not the only one. Retailers are rethinking inventory management and often carrying more inventory as they expand online sales and develop new delivery strategies.

After decades of moving operations overseas, executives at U.S. manufacturing and distribution firms say they’re coming home, or at least closer to home via Mexico.

India’s merchandise exports slumped for the eighth month in a row in July, but at a slower rate of decline despite well-publicized troubles at the country's largest container facility, according to new provisional trade figures released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.