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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- April 8, 2021

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for April 8, 2021

Forecasts for 2021 GDP Growth Keep Rising; Flush Economic Times for Ocean Container Carriers; US Trade Deficit Hits All-Time in February; Amazon Union Vote Turnout a Little Higher than Expected



That is the new and rather amazing forecast from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for global economic growth in 2021. That is up from the forecast of 5.5% global GDP growth the IMF issued in January. The latest round of fiscal stimulus in the US, along with vaccine rollouts across the world, have made the IMF more confident about the global economy for the year. The IMF expects the United States will see even greater growth of 6.4%, while overall the IMF estimated growth of 5.1% for advanced economies. The IMF forecast for emerging and developing economies’ growth is 6.7% for 2021, with India expected to expand by as much as 12.5%.The IMF sees global GDP growth for 2022 of 4.4%, up a bit from the January estimate of 4.2%. The IMF notes that the US is on track to not only return to but exceed its pre-pandemic economic output this year, while most other developed economies will not get back to square until 2022.




That was the percent of some 5800 workers at an Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer, AL who completed and mailed in a ballot on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the union said this week. That turnout level was somewhat higher than union leaders had expected. The ballots are being counted by the NLRB, with results expected any day after voting ended March 29. Hundreds of ballots were challenged, mostly by Amazon, according to the RWDSU. If the margin of victory ends up being less than the total number of challenged ballots, the final tally will be temporarily halted until those challenges are resolved via a hearing held by the NLRB. Any ballots that are accepted will then be added to the tally. The election in Bessemer has of course become a closely watched event in and outside of Amazon, as it would establish the first union at one of the Fulfillment Centers in the US, perhaps leading to similar organizing efforts at other FCs.



$15.8 Billion

That is the estimated profit in 2020 of leading ocean container carriers, more than double the $7 billion in net income from the group for the previous five years. That according to an estimate from the analysts at Blue Alpha Capital this week. Blue Alpha took the profits for 11 carriers that publicly report earnings – equal to $10.2 billion last year – and applied the same profit averages to 11 other carriers that do not publicly report their financials, including giant MSC. And those sterling 2020 results after many industry experts were predicting severe financial woes for carriers at the start of the pandemic. But smart management of capacity (e.g., voided sailings) and then a strong turn around in demand dramatically changed the financial situation for box carriers. Ocean carriers had their best quarter in container shipping history in the final three months of 2020, but are expected to have significantly topped that record in the first quarter of this year. Will it last? That is the $10 billion question.



$71.1 Billion

That was the overall US trade deficit in February, according to data released this week by the Commerce Department. That was up 4.8% from January – and represents an all-time record. The trade gap in goods was also the highest on record. Imports fell 0.7% to $258.3 billion. Goods imports fell 0.9% to $219.1 billion. The drop in imports probably reflected supply-chain constraints such as port delays, rather than weak domestic demand. In fact, imports of capital goods hit a record high, while those of industrial supplies and materials were the highest since October 2018. However, the politically sensitive trade deficit in goods with China actually fell to $24.6 billion, down from $26.2 billion in January, though still a big number.

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