One key measure of global economic health is how much freight – raw materials and manufactured goods – is being shipped around the world and in the United States. In July of this year the Balctic Dry Index, a measure of the price to pay for the movement of raw materials by sea, hit a record breaking low and signaled a steep decline in global manufacturing and consumption.
This was a key indicator for where the economy was headed on a global scale.
Just a few months later we’ve received confirmation of this trend from FedEx, one of the largest shipping companies in the world.
Yes, Americans are still shopping, but they aren’t shopping at the same pace they were five years ago. Their jobs have been eliminated, wages reduced and credit has been restricted. FedEx’s latest earnings report is proof positive of this:
Earnings for the first quarter were below our expectations as weak global economic conditions dampened revenue growth, drove a shift by our customers to our deferred services and outpaced our near-term ability to reduce FedEx Express operating costs to match demand levels.
Prominent CEOs around the country see the writing on the wall, as do many political and financial insiders such as financier George Soros who warned earlier this year that even the best-case scenario will be painful:
I am not here to cheer you up.
The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career.
We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse.
The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.