The list also suggests that long-dormant inflation, which has befuddled the Fed's governors, economists and lesser pundits alike, might spring into action next year. One question will be whether it's a manageable inflation.
Here are the 10 ports whose imports have increased the most through the first 10 months of 2017, the most recent data available from U.S. Census, as analyzed by World City, the company where I serve as president.
- Port Houston
- Port of Long Beach
- Port of Los Angeles
- Port of New Orleans
- Port of Savannah
- Port of Newark
- Port of Seattle
- Port of Wilmington, Dela.
- Port of Jacksonville
That these ports have seen the value of their trade increase the most tells you at least three things:
- Oil prices have rebounded -- meaning we are paying more for gasoline.
- It tells you that imports of consumer goods are increasing -- meaning we have more spending power, or at least we believe we do.
- It tells you that imports of motor vehicles are increasing -- meaning we feel confident enough to head to the showroom.
In successive reports, I will look at the top 10 airports and the top 10 border crossings.
In three previous columns, I focused on the top 10 airports, seaports and border crossings for export trade. Four of the above ports appeared on that list as well: Port Houston ranked No. 1 on the export side as well, the Port of Los Angeles ranked No. 4, the Port of New Orleans ranked No. 6 and the Port of Savannah ranked No. 9.
All told, there are more than 450 "ports" for goods to enter and exit the United States. Total U.S. exports are up 6.13% through the first 10 months of the year. Total imports are up slightly more, 6.75%.
Exports by border crossing -- this includes truck, rail and, in some cases, pipeline -- are up a relatively slight 2.02%. Exports via air, whether via so-called "belly" cargo on passenger flights or on dedicated freighters, are up 6.11% while ocean-bound exports ocean are up 10.98%.
Border crossing trade, by value, makes up 36.33% of all U.S. exports, the largest percentage of the three. Most of that trade is with just two countries, NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico. (In another previous column, I wrote about the incongruous, puzzling and somewhat surprising support the voters of U.S. communities bordering Mexico offered for then-candidate Donald Trump despite the enormous growth in their communities and trade in the quarter century since NAFTA's passage and his threats to scuttle it.)
On the import side, as is the case on the export side, ocean-borne shipments are up the most, 7.51%. The value of air cargo is up 6.14% while border trade is up 6.08%. Unlike on the export side, where border trade is slightly dominant, ocean trade is quite dominant, responsible for 46.2% of all U.S. imports. Another 28.37% is via border crossing and 25.43% flies.Here is a closer look at the top 10 seaports, as measure by the growth in value of their imports through October of this year:
1. Port Houston imports have increased $8.21 billion in 2017. Not surprisingly, this is about energy, but it's not just oil and gas.
- Oil rose 19.49% compared to last year to $7.82 billion.
- Gasoline and other refined petroleum products rose 21.16% to $3.9 billion.
- Motor vehicles for transporting people fell 5.93% to $2.37 billion.
- Seamless iron tubes and pipes rose 98.57% to $1.81 billion.
- Iron and steel pipes and tubing rose 279.96% to $1.53 billion.
- Oil rose 102.22% compared to last year to $3.97 billion.
- Motor vehicle parts rose 57.29% to $2.46 billion.
- Computers rose 1.12% to $2.17 billion.
- TVs and computer monitors rose 35.23% to $1.31 billion.
- Furniture and parts rose 6.89% to $1.28 billion.
- Motor vehicles for transporting people rose 14.99% compared to last year to $10.02 billion.
- Computers rose 27.09% to $8.78 billion.
- Motor vehicle parts fell 8.09% to $6.93 billion.
- TVs and computer monitors rose 20.96% to $5.95 billion.
- Printers and parts rose 1.64% to $5.66 billion.
- Gasoline and other refined petroleum products rose 11.98% compared to last year to $$2.72 billion.
- Oil rose 63.84% to $2.5 billion.
- Aluminum rose 122.44% to $1.71 billion.
- Iron alloys rose 117.54% to $1.27 billion.
- Refined copper and alloys rose 82.47% to $736,22 million.
- Motor vehicle parts fell 8.11% compared to last year to $2.37 billion.
- Medicines in individual dosages fell 4.26% to $2.19 billion.
- Furniture and parts rose 14.5% to $1.34 billion.
- Toys, children’s bicycles and games rose 5.19% to $1.05 billion.
- Seats, excluding barber and dental seats, rose 5.38% to $963.69 million.
- Motor vehicles for transporting people rose 13.14% compared to last year to $10.55 billion.
- Medicines in individual dosages fell 23.13% to $5.3 billion.
- Gasoline and other refined petroleum products rose 8.06% to $5.26 billion.
- Oil rose 29.42% to $3.07 billion.
- Rum, gin, vodka and other liquors rose 2.77% to $2.14 billion.
- Motor vehicles for transporting people rose 25.62% compared to last year to $2.55 billion.
- Oil rose 212.13% to $1.59 billion.
- Frozen beef rose 4.59% to $830.22 million.
- Cocoa beans rose 8.89% to $786.08 million.
- Semi-finished iron and non-alloy steel products rose 98.13% to $613.6 million.
- Electric storage batteries rose 3750.28% compared to last year to $592.03 million.
- Aircraft parts rose 45.59% to $578.44 million.
- Furniture and parts rose 16.08% to $463.75 million.
- Toys, children’s bicycles and games fell 5.72% to $321.32 million.
- Coffee rose 74.55% to $310.81 million.
- Oil rose 57.3% compared to last year to $6.2 billion.
- Bananas rose 2.02% to $455.15 million.
- Gasoline and other refined petroleum products fell 20.92% to $264.29 million.
- Grapes fell 22.26% to $198.52 million.
- The fruit category that includes pineapples rose 12.53% to $97.22 million.
- Motor vehicles for transporting people rose 15.19% compared to last year to $9.33 billion.
- Travel goods, including handbags, wallets and jewelry, fell 1.24% to $569.19 million.
- Commercial vehicles rose 0.67% to $568.11 million.
- Gasoline and other refined petroleum products rose 19.46% to $262.89 million.
- Coffee rose 26.29% to $257.25 million.