In a slump …

It’s beginning to sink in. Today’s Long Beach Press-Telegram’s headline reads as follows:

“Cargo traffic expected to hit slump”

“So much for the big rally,” the writer begins, and it’s exactly the kind of “dig” port authorities and prognosticators deserve, now that their smokescreens and curve-balls are being revealed.

“Predictions just weeks ago of a late-summer surge in cargo volumes at the nation’s seaports appear to have been overly optimistic,” the writer goes on, “with economists now cautioning the U.S. is poised for its biggest dropoff in international trade in at least a decade.

“The sobering analysis, made by one of the nation’s top trade research firms Friday, presents yet another sign of the economic malaise gripping America.

“‘We had to basically totally reverse our earlier stance due to demand being much weaker than we had anticipated earlier in the year,’ said a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based research firm. ‘There’s not much good news out there on the economy. We really don’t expect a rebound until 2009.’

“While researchers earlier believed import volumes – often used as a barometer of the economy’s general health – would experience a modest 1.5 to 2 percent jump for the year, they’re now predicting drops of 4 percent or more …”

“At the time, it was believed volumes would pick up around June or July and continue through October – typically the peak shipping month as retailers stock up on holiday goods.

“Instead, container counts in the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles plummeted 12.1 percent from the year prior, the largest such drop in at least two decades …”

“‘The slump has been deeper than we thought, and we’re heading for the biggest decline in imports in the 20 years we have numbers for,’” said a Long Beach official. “‘This is a huge, huge drop that we’re looking at, and nobody seems to know when it will turn around’”, the man said, in the first honest evaluation we’ve heard from a port official.

The expert researchers, however, who “expect a rebound” in 2009, are still in a fog. They not only fail to provide us with the reasons for their predicted 2009 turnaround, but they apparently fail to understand that our economy is in a death spiral. Two weeks ago (in Article 12) we wrote, “This country has never seen such times. Along with the many thousands being thrown out of work every month, the likes of General Motors, Ford Motor Company, United Airlines, Fanny Mae, Freddy Mac, and a whole host of seemingly impregnable firms are approaching bankruptcy”, … some of the very employers whose payroll checks make it possible for consumers to consume. 2009, huh?