Via Forbes, Ken Roberts , Contributor
One look at the list of the 10 U.S. seaports with the greatest increase in the value of their import trade this year, and you can find validation for the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates this year and continue to do so in 2018. The list also aligns with recent strong employment figures and buoyant consumer confidence.
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.
That these ports have seen the value of their trade increase the most tells you at least three things:
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.