Global Trade Rises for Third Month in a Row

Posted by: Joe Weber on June 16

container-ship.jpgIn yet another sign that some key players are acting as if recession is on the run, more offshore manufacturers are shipping goods into the consumer-driven U.S. market, global-trade tracker Panjiva reports. The May trade data mark the third consecutive monthly rise in the number of shippers moving such goods, the first such Trifecta since the firm began following this metric in July 2007.

“Increasingly, it feels that the worst is behind us,” says Josh Green, chief executive officer of the trade-tracking firm. Waxing cautious, however, he adds “Still, we have a long way to get back to the pre-crisis level of global trade.”

Nonetheless, the data, released June 16, suggest that global trade has hit bottom and is taking the first steps toward recovery. Some 131,688 suppliers were active in May, up 2% from the number in April. The rises in shipper tallies give the Panjiva analysts heart, since such totals have been sliding since at least July 2007, when they counted 161,905 shippers moving goods into the U.S.

The analysts point to other barometers of improvement, too. The percentage of significant manufacturers on a watch list – those in danger of going out of business – dropped a percentage point to 30% in May, for instance. This marked the first such decline since Panjiva started tracking this metric last September.

The firm does offer a few caveats. Some part of the rise recently may be seasonal, since there was a similar uptick in shippers in the spring of 2008. And, of course, the 2% rise in the number of shippers is modest. Finally, more supplier bankruptcies are likely and the system remains vulnerable to shocks.

Panjiva, a three-year-old statistics analysis firm based in New York and Boston, keeps track of manufacturer shipments around the globe for customers such as Home Depot.

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BusinessWeek’s Joe Weber, Patricia O'Connell, Michelle Conlin, Frederik Balfour, Peter Coy, Greg Spielberg and Roger Crockett examine The Case for Optimism by looking past the financial turmoil and economic unrest gripping the globe to focus on the promising future that lies on the other side of this storm. We’ll chronicle the forward thinkers investing in R&D, launching promising new products, entering new markets, or implementing management and leadership.

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