April Trade Data: Reason For Optimism?

  • By Josh Green
  • · June 1, 2009
  • ·

On Friday, I told The New York Times: “The free fall in global trade seems to have halted.”

The graph below summarizes the data behind the quote.  As you can see, after four months of free fall in the number of manufacturers shipping to American customers, there were increases from February to March (~2%), and again from March to April (~8%).

Panjiva Analysis: Have We Hit Bottom?Unfortunately, the news isn’t all good, as noted by the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek.  Consider the following:

  • Though the March-April increase surpassed last year’s March-April increase, data released by Chinese authorities suggest that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, April was worse than March for the world’s largest exporting economy.
  • Risk for those engaged in global trade remains high: the percentage of significant manufacturers on the Panjiva Watch List edged up from 30% in March to 31% in April.
  • Similarly, the percentage of significant buyers having done business with a Panjiva Watch List supplier in the preceding three months edged up from 40% in March to 41% in April.

Clearly, global trade is still vulnerable to shocks.  But it’s nice, finally, to be able to report a bit of good news.

Some methodological notes for the data junkies:

  • Manufacturers that have suffered a 50% or greater decline in volume shipped to American customers in the most recent three month period, versus the same period a year ago, are on the Panjiva Watch List
  • “Significant manufacturers” are companies that have sent 10 or more shipments to American customers within the last year.  As of the end of April, there were 86,740 significant manufacturers.
  • “Significant buyers” are companies that have received 10 or more shipments from overseas manufacturers within the last year.  As of the end of April, there were 72,447 significant buyers.

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