Skip to comments.The FedEx Indicator
Posted on 03/23/2012 5:39:37 PM PDT by BfloGuy
The economy is supposedly improving, but even if we took the falling unemployment rate at face value, there are too many signs that something is wrong. There are too many anomalies. I noted a few weeks ago the anomaly of collapsing gasoline and diesel fuel consumption, which started well before the current run-up in pump prices that is causing Obama to contort himself in unnatural ways. Falling fuel consumption ahead of a price spike isnt consistent with a growing economy.
Today the Wall Street Journal takes note of one of my favorite indicators: Federal Express package shipping activity. Demand for package delivery is about as real-time an indicator as you can get, and doesnt depend on survey data, statistical modeling, and seasonal adjustment. Todays headline is FedEx Scales Back Economic Forecasts. The story says FedExs U.S. package delivery volume was off by 4 percent last quarter. Theyre scaling back their own in-house economic forecast for the rest of the year. Theyre going to take some planes out of service and park them in the desert, and shrink their workforce through attrition. Stay tuned.
I have an even better indicator. I travel roads of Jersey regularly. Traffic was a major problem just 4 years ago. I feel like Omega Man these days. Roads are practically empty.
Yes, the FedEx indicator is a TRUE indicator, unlike
the FALSE US Government/Obozo Fantasy Land indicators.
But FedEx delivers all my ammo. I figured with all the orders ive been placing....
Okay I have no doubts that the FedEx indicator is a real indicator.
However just how much of JITDS inventory is delivered by FedEx does it include ground shipments and, since I believe it is still private, does UPS have any equivalent?
There was some rich guy who used to track orders of the cardboard box manufacturers around the world to make his economic forecasts. Anyone know who that was? Seems like a good overall economic indicator.
The economy is in the dump and only getting worse. There are now close to 25 million people who are marginally employed or unemployed with very few prospects.
Yes, but JITDS is itself an indicator. It shows that everybody is starving their inventory. That is an indicator of business forecast of bad times ahead, because nobody has any inventory anymore. That worries me more than anything else.
My favorite is the “Big Mac” Index
If I remember the last published FedEx report I saw, they were not counting on the US for their future gains through the election.
I one worked with a Chinese colleague who insisted that egg roll size is a good indicator. When the economy is good, they are big and fresh, when bad, they shrink.
I realize JITDS would be a prime indicator.
However unless you can break down a percentage of inventory delivered by FedEx overnight or ground by industry it’s kind of hit and miss wouldn’t you think?
I mean railroad, shipping and trucking would be a greater percentage of JITDS inventory for the majority of industries.
Then, when it comes to consumer shipping I have no doubt that a great majority of Americans are gladly taking 3-7 day shipping as opposed to overnights on purchases.
Listen, I’m not debating the validity of the index because it makes perfect sense that FedEx would be a great indicator in and of itself. I’m just playing devil’s advocate as to just how accurate it can be since what it’s measuring isn’t crystal clear.
Much as I hate to admit it, we use more USPS especially with the rates overseas. No contest at all when shipping overseas with USPS vs UPS/fEDEX.
Spoke with my buds who have Amazon and Ebay seller accounts and their shipments have been down around 10% for the past year.
“does UPS have any equivalent?”
Sure, UPS has a fleet (225 planes), once, if still not, larger then FedEx.
By the way, I am from Memphis and was in high school with Fred Smith.
A childhood friend runs FedEx European operations.
I use the Cat Sleep Indicator. The less my cats sleep the more worried they are about my having to buy cut-rate cat chow. These days they hardly nap.
This is interesting, as my use of FedEx is up greatly (Amazon Prime) and visits to the local mall way way down.
Not here in the Houston area. But we are the center of the US oil and gas sector.
This is a sort of rolling depression, hitting different regions differently and at different times, it appears.
What you describe happened here in NC too, but back in 2008. We’re almost back to normal on the traffic, but there is now a surprising number of scooters on the road during commute hours.
Some people are right on the verge, if that’s the only way they can afford to get to work.
In the temperate months I ride my bicycle at a nearby regional fright distribution facility. In 06, 07 and 08 it was a beehive of trucking activity. Since then it has been relatively dead.
It is a mile riding my bike around it and flat, making it a convenient place to get exercise. Before the recession there were trucks parked at loading docks on all sides of the the massive facility. The last three years, the trucks are only on parts of the front side and the employee parking is very much reduced. I guess Obama’s green jobs don’t require the services of our trucking and freight distribution services.
I estimate the facility usage has been at no more than 20-25% of their former level of activity since the 08 crash.
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