A Three-way Tie

An April 13th story in the Boston Globe began like this: “Work’s not over, even if recession is”.

“The US recession probably ended months ago … Many economists estimate the recession probably ended last summer …”, were two typically irresponsible statements in the story.

According to more responsible reports, however, things aren’t at all on the upswing. The Journal of Commerce, for example, is a much more accurate source than the local media.

1. “Overcapacity to last years, says OOCL chief” (4/13/2010)

“OOCL Group Chairman CC Tung said Tuesday that it could take three to four years before the container industry works its way out of the glut of vessel capacity that hangs over the market.”

2. “Downturn Not Deep Enough, Says Shipping Executive” (4/13/2010)

“Seaspan’s Wang says easy financing fed speculative shipbuilding. The chief executive of ship leasing company Seaspan says pain from the global trade downturn likely has not been deep enough to bring needed consolidation and efficiency to the container shipping industry …

“But Wang said the industry still faces financial large overcapacity that will not be absorbed as long as container ship operators face financial hurdles to canceling orders with Korean shipyards.”

Discouraging reports were also seen in the International Transportation Journal:

1. “Germany’s inland shipping declined in 2009 – (12 April 2010) Germany’s statistics office Destatis announced that, according to provisional figures, the amount of freight carried on Germany’s inland waterways in 2009 declined by 16.83% in comparison with 2008.”

2. “MK Airlines temporarily suspends operations – (09 April 2010) The Swiss forwarding and logistics service provider Panalpina announced Friday that it has been informed by its partner MK Airlines that the carrier is temporarily suspending its operations due to a lack of adequate resources. According to MK Airlines it cannot maintain the service and safety level that is expected.”

Those economists and newspaper reporters who are insisting that the recession ended months ago should advise officials in the transportation industry of their findings. They could use some encouragement. Or better still, they should read the 4/13/2010 issue of The New York Times which reported that unemployment benefits have lapsed for an estimated 200,000 Americans since Congress took its two-week spring break without acting to extend those needed benefits. And if the impasse isn’t resolved this week by those politicians an additional 200,000 will lose their aid.

Who’s dumber, do you suppose – newspaper reporters, economists, or our elected representatives?