Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (January 13, 2023)

I won $2 this week

by forgetting to play Mega Millions.

What are the odds I’ll be here

on Monday if I lose

the $2 buying a ticket today? 

You gotta be in it to win it

they say, better to have played

and lost

than not to have played at all.

Or is that love?


There is a 1 in 302,575,350 chance I won’t be here on Monday, so this might be the last time I highlight the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week. Then again, who am I kidding?

Regressing To The Mean

All of the extreme highs and lows we experienced from mid 2020 through early 2022 in e-commerce sales, ocean shipping rates, semiconductors, fuel prices, and other metrics have been regressing to the mean for several months now. In some cases, these metrics have shot past the mean in the opposite direction.

The bottom line is that we begin 2023 with many dark clouds overhead.

The World Bank now expects global growth to slow to 1.7% this year from 3% expected six months ago. “Global growth is slowing sharply in the face of elevated inflation, higher interest rates, reduced investment, and disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report.

As reported by Reuters, “U.S. imports of goods in ocean shipping containers in December fell to levels approaching those last seen before the COVID-19 pandemic,” citing data from Descartes Datamyne. Here are some excerpts from the article:

December 2022 U.S. container import volume topped 1.9 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), according to Descartes Systems Group. That was down 19% from the year earlier, but 1% above December 2019, the logistics software provider said. Then, the pandemic spawned an unexpected container cargo surge that overwhelmed seaports and upended global supply chains.

“The December U.S. container import data points to less pressure on supply chains and logistics operations, but there are still a number of issues that may cause further disruptions in 2023,” said Chris Jones, an executive vice president at Descartes. Those include outbreak risks from new variants of the virus that causes COVID, Russia’s war in Ukraine, ongoing labor negotiations at busy U.S. West Coast ports and the threat of global recession, experts said.

According to the latest Cass Transportation Index Report, “The shipments component of the Cass Freight Index fell 3.9% year-over-year in December [and] the expenditures component of the Cass Freight Index, which measures the total amount spent on freight, fell 4.3% y/y in December, inflecting from a 4.7% increase in November.” The report provides some context to this data, but the main takeaway is that we’re in a “softer” freight environment today than we’ve been in a while.

The party is over, which is why Flexport is laying off 20% of its workforce, C.H. Robinson fired its CEO, and technology companies dependent on new funding rounds are now focusing on “path to profitability” instead of growth at all costs.

Yeah, maybe I will buy that lottery ticket after all.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “From the Hill” by Nation of Language