Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Port Presents Economic Situational Analysis

The Port of Tacoma posed for itself a difficult task: Meeting the Challenges of the Global Economic Change, for today's breakfast forum at the Hotel Murano - and it was answered admirably.

No one can claim an unclouded crystal ball into the future or in wholehearted recommendations on a definitive response. The keynoter Walter Kemmsies, Chief Economist, Moffatt & Nichol (who was most recently here for the Northwest Intermodal Conference May 19, 2008) did a creditable job in explaining the why's of getting here, the what's of here and the when's of a forecast. He recommended all to FDIC Commissioner Sheila Bair, who had identified the challenges to our economy several years ago, but lambasted other policy leaders who instead got us to where we are now.

In summary, his forecast:
  • Near Term: we are starting a "low" bounce, becoming "less bad." We don't immediately go from "horrible to good."

  • Mid Term: remember the economists' question at the beginning of the recession was would our recovery be graphed as a "U" or as a "V"? Seems now the recovery is thought to be a "W" for recovery by 2012, given the ability to manage the money supply to fit the economic trends.

  • Long Term: is cautiously optimistic for 2012+. NOTE NOW: Some very knowledgeable and well-placed industry panelists during the later panel Q&A session expressed recovery by 2011 or even late 2010.

Kemmsies also reminded that globalization is about profit maximization, not cost minimization. Longer term trends he identified:

  • INTENSE competition for the PNW

  • the containerization of commodity goods.

  • Mexico as a potential product customization nexus for both American continents

  • No one is asking why Latin America doesn't have a recession

My recommendation: Go next year!

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