Surf’s Up!

Here’s what the headlines have been telling us:

• Data released by the South Carolina Ports Authority showed cargo volume in Charleston was down 13.2 percent for the first six months of its fiscal year, with Maersk, the ports largest customer, reporting a drop of nearly 10 percent.

• Drewry Shipping Consultants stated in its annual forecast that the shipping industry is going into reverse and that “the laying up of tonnage is not out of the question”.

• Port Tracker reported earlier this month that container volumes throughout the nation’s ports will be down about 6 percent in 2008.

• The chief APL official in China stated that the current situation in Asia/Europe is far worse than during the last cyclical downturn, and he called the previously booming Asia/Europe trade “precipitous”.

• In addressing the severity of the Wall Street meltdown, New York’s Governor Patterson called attention to the fact that financial services firms that were able to survive the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the September 11th attacks collapsed under the weight of the current financial crisis.

• Business Times reported that, according to the U.S. government, the number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits shot up, and that 760,000 jobs have “disappeared” this year.

• The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that our nation’s bridges need $ 180 billion in repairs, with our rail infrastructure in need of $ 185 billion in maintenance.

• Retailers are seeing little to cheer about this holiday season as consumers continue to struggle under the weight of rising joblessness, ongoing high gasoline prices and shrinking home values.

Obviously, things are worse now than they’ve ever been and there’s no relief in sight. But when one is wearing blinders, then ignorance is bliss. Last week the Mexican Consul General in Los Angeles told SoCal port officials that the proposed port at Punta Colonet would grow to about 7 million TEUs annually. Without batting an eye, SoCal officials announced that by the year 2020 the LA/Long Beach complex would be handling 36 million TEUs annually. Long Beach Harbor Commission President James Hankla, however, contradicted those daydreamers by saying that the ports would have to “fight to keep every container we now have.”

[He’s the only one out there who’s done his homework.]