Number for the day is 45.0%

The percentage of containers that were shipped empty from the Port of Los Angeles during the 2011 financial year was 48.42% (or 1.8 million twenty-foot units). Incoming containers received empty were a mere 3.42%. Our number for the day is the net 45.0% of incoming containers that are returned empty to their port of destination.

Shippers attempt to fill containers on their return journey, even at super-low rates, in order to offset the cost of completing the round-trip. Empty containers indicate failure to locate manufactured goods that can compete in these export markets. This affects not only the shipper, but the entire economy. You see, those containers leaving the West Coast are not really empty. They contain something far more valuable than the goods being imported. They contain manufacturing jobs — and the infrastructure, skills and know-how to support them.

In 2012, if you need an independent gauge of how successful the President’s jobs program has been, check this number.

21 thoughts on “Number for the day is 45.0%

  1. Ever wonder how the Irish got to North America.
    The grain ships that crossed the North Atlantic from America and Canada every year would otherwise return empty with stone ballast but it was much easier to fill the ships with Irishmen than stones.
    Perhaps we can fill the empty containers with Mexicans and they can do the jobs in China the Chinese will no longer do.


  2. Graham says:

    This is a great economic indicator…….. at last a practical real view of current picture of whats really happening in the global sense. Its hard to ‘fudge these stat’s.

  3. Jason says:

    The ideology of free market has been a sward with double blades, though not many people in the industralized countries had realized this point many years ago. Advocates of Free Market push for free flow of capital, goods, and job opportunities!
    Industralized nations find themselves in a dilema of low job-creating
    situation when they try to move up the value chain of the global economy, because high value-adding industries do not require many labour, or if they do, they only require low cost labour to stay being competitive.
    Our high cost of living push up our high cost of manufacturing, which makes the later unsustainable.
    Our wages have to drop, our quality of living must go down, via the way of umployment, before we become competitive in the labour market.
    The imbalance between the rich and poor countries has been long existing, that means before we have much more of us umployed, our income and quality of life drop substantilly, the rebalancing process will not end.
    As long as free trade exist, only when we become much poorer than now, then we will become more competitive.
    People in the debt trapped countries have been living beyond their means for too long, we all know this is not sustainable.
    The imbalance between the rich and poor countries has been there for much longer, and why should we think it is sustainable?
    It is big pay-back time……

    • Colin Twiggs says:

      I think many confuse the term “free market” with the economic term “efficient market”, which is completely different. Not all unregulated markets are efficient. Regulation can improve efficiency.

  4. Dr Donald Marr says:

    Harpex Index most valuable information. Thank you, Don Marr.

  5. Hal Martin says:

    The chart that you posted is in a clear cut down trend. I’m wondering what is different between this and BDI. The Baltic Dry index has broken out of its down trend.

    Most interesting in your article, that the US is importing twice as much goods as they are importing. This will cost them dearly.


    • Colin Twiggs says:

      Baltic Dry Index is no longer an accurate a measure of global economic activity because of a number of distorting factors. BDI is a measure of dry bulk shipping, predominantly iron ore and coking coal. Demand for iron ore and coking coal has been artificially supported by China’s massive stimulus program — infrastructure development requires vast quantities of iron and steel. The index has also been distorted by an over-supply of vessels. But this has been countered to some extent by high oil prices: slow-cruising speeds to conserve oil requires more vessels to move the same annual tonnage.

  6. Quentin Lewton says:

    The chart looks like the exporting of ’empty containers’ went through a crash during the George Bush years. The Obama years appear to have bottomed and is now working on recovery. It’s when I would buy.

  7. vail says:

    You can’t blame Obama? Who the heck can you blame, Lady GaGa?

    Some of Obama’s supporters wont face the truth which is that Obama is the black Jimmy
    Carter. Brainy? Yes but doesn’t have a clue about what to do in the “real world”.

  8. Sparty says:

    You probably can’t blame President Obama for the happenings surrounding the shift of power and wealth back to the East.

  9. jan says:

    How can we expect the american economy to prosper and lead the world forward when the people who caused the problem are now working in and advising the government on how to solve the problems. Its a bit like an alcoholic working in a brewery isn’t it.

  10. Tom Mckernan says:

    Cultures expand and retract, for reasons that defy the nonsense provided historically. Irrespective of what’s been said, our culture is governed by the intellectia. If you are not in government, you’re sub intellectual to those who are. Intelligence is measured according to memory, ability to think abstract and simple bloody courage to stand and fight for what you know is right.
    Not with standing, the guts to fight is the major attibute to intelligence. It’s not everything, but it’s way above whatever our academia say is real. Women and children have their opinion, but they are not men. Teachers have their opinion, but they are children. Men have their opinion, but they are either hiding, or have left the country.
    Our culture is run by women and children. This is the intelligentia which rules our land. There’s nothing wrong with women and kids. But, there is something wrong with the men in Australia. I’m a reject from the vietnam war conscription process. We lost that war and got the hatered of our women because we lost. That’s what happens when men loose a battle. The women do their stuff which hurts the men and the men get angry, so bloody angry that they fight and win.
    This process is reality.
    What you see and read about in Australia currently, is what happens when there are no men. I’m writing to boys and babies! Are there any Australian men out there?

  11. Hildegard Liechtenstein says:

    excellent! the most telling fact I heard of in all this nonsense-noise of the last weeks

  12. Dave says:

    Also found that an interesting statistic. Haven’t been following shipping indexes with all the moves in equity indices atm šŸ˜‰ thanks for the update

    p.s. love the empty container metaphor

  13. Jack Hart says:

    This is ideed a serious meaure of the reality of things – This is the facts of the actual and so therefore should indeed be considered a great yardstick – hey, things ARE grim.

  14. Ian Stewart says:

    An interesting statistic. What proportion of incoming containers leave Australia empty?

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