Friday, June 01, 2007

Canary in a Coalmine

The Ventura County Star is usually good for the latest Fry's ad and high school sports scores but even the blind squirrel occassionally finds a nut.

Business declines at port Banana imports increase, but vehicle shipments slump
Business declines at port Banana imports increase, but vehicle shipments slump

Harbor official reports first revenue drop in 13 years

By Jim McLain
Friday, June 1, 2007

Some 25,000 more tons of bananas than expected are coming into the Port of Hueneme this year, but vehicle imports will be down nearly 100,000 units from projections, the harbor's board was told Thursday.

In a report outlining the Oxnard Harbor District's first revenue decline in more than a decade, officials blamed the vehicle business downturn primarily on Mazda Motors of America's decision to move its operation to San Diego late last year.

Slumping sales of some of the other 11 import brands shipped into the port were also cited, along with the opening of Korea automaker Hyundai's first U.S. assembly plant, which reduced reliance on shipping.

The increase in banana business at the port was the result of Westlake Village-based Dole Food Co. Inc.'s surprise decision to move some of its operations from San Diego.

Port officials expect to handle 1.33 million metric tons of cargo when the district's fiscal year ends June 30, down from 1.36 million last year, said Anthony Taormina, executive director. Revenue should be down about $300,000 from the $11.2 million he had projected.

Board President Michael Plisky said it will be the first revenue decline in his 13 years with the district.

At the end of the third quarter, the port's auto business was down 13.1 percent. Other vehicles, including farm equipment, road-building machines and heavy-construction vehicles, were down 19 percent. However, there were increases in bananas, 12.6 percent, other fresh fruit, 9 percent, and other cargo, 2 percent.

Some 62,000 fewer cars and trucks than last year had come through the port through the end of the third quarter, officials said. They expect the year's total to be down about 100,000 from what they had projected. Last year, about 290,000 vehicles came through the port.
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© 2007 Ventura County Star
And this was supposed to be the Pacific Century.


Anonymous said...


The Dude said...

With Snowflake gone, FIRST has lost it's meaning.....I_am_depressed

Frodo said...

Then maybe it's time to stop with the whole stupid first/murst thing: it's as (more?) played out as Casey was. At least HAVE a valid comment to make...

The article says manufacturing is being moved to the States, and some of the imports are going into San Diego, so perhaps it's not all bad news (except for the local economy)...

Rob Dawg said...

I'm down with Frodo. What isn't mentioned however is the impending doom of Mexican trucking being granted US passage. And where have the Chicomms been investing? Mexican ports.

Milton's Ghost said...

Goddamn MIFTH again!

NoVa Sideliner said...

Interesting canary you spotted there. And the Mexican port/trucking workaround isn't even in place yet, so it does look like this could signal a slowdown, and not just relocated traffic.

I had to wonder how long the US West Coast ports would hold out against cheaper competition down south. A relative of mine worked in south Lousiana with the ports there decades ago. He said they priced themselves way out of the market (in their case by union reluctance to accept container traffic), so firms happily moved on to Houston, which was happy to have them.

The Mexican ports have more restrictions (currently) than a simple New Orleans => Houston move due to the border "thing" but the process seems to be already in motion.

NIgel Swabby said...


Please don't worry. I am having such a good year I will be upgrading my BMW and that will go through port Hueneme. In fact I had to do a blog purging in since I will be out of the country for awhile in china. This is why I am going.

Algae smothers Chinese Lake

It is clear from this article that the Chinese need my help. "Blue-green algae often looks like green paint spilled on top of the water's surface. It is caused by factors such as run-off and excess nutrients in the water." This is where they are mistaken. Algae is caused by the SUN.

I have polished the pleather and my head and by standing in the middle of the lake I shall reflect the sunlight off the lake. Now that KC has plenty of free time, he will be joining me to poke at the algae with a stick while I reflect the sun.

Win, win! Sweet deal!

bluto said...

It's worth tracking the price of leasing a ship which is still at record levels, before drawing too many conclusions from port traffic.

Here's a good one.
They have oil, bulk (wheat coal etc), and containers all on one handy page. When those start fall off a cliff, we're headed for big big troubles.

Mozatta said...

Rob, regarding your camera. Great deal, EXCEPT....I'm personally a fan of having the picture-taker-clicker thing on the right side. But other than that defect, I'd say solid purchase.

Sharky said...


I used to sit on a ship in the Port of Hueneme.'s port facilities go, it's hardly even worth the extra pilotage through the Santa Barbara Channel when you could just as easily go to Long Beach.

The East Coast example of this would be Baltimore versus Hampton Roads.

And as GM, Chrysler and Ford rush to cheap labor countries, Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are rushing in to open assembly plants here.


walt526 said...

To be expected when the dollar goes down combined with a recession in the US economy. Historically, a declining dollar has had a positive impact on stimulating the economy because our goods are more competitive as exports. However, few manufacturing jobs means little or no lift from a falling dollar. Meanwhile, the rest of the world has quickly learned that it can replace many of our service and high-tech jobs domestically for a fraction of what a US-based firm bills.

The Mexican port/truck is really beside the point, IMHO. Our economy's future isn't screwed because we're losing low-paying blue collar jobs. It's because we've already lost high-paying blue collar jobs and could not hold onto the high-paying white collar jobs that were supposed to replace them. This is really Act 3 in a four-act production of the deconstruction of the post-WWII American economy, IMHO.

Rob Dawg said...

The problem this time with a declining dollar is our energy trade imbalance. Any trade benefit from a weaker dollar gets eaten in out foriegn energy purchases.

Anonymous said...

Oops my link should have been:

Mouse And Pencil said...

The question bad is it going to get?

70's "malaise" and gas shortages?

Great(er) Depression?

or will the Fed cook the books? Prop it up for a couple more years on our grandkid's dime?

Is a coffee can going to be a more secure place to park savings, or offshore accounts?

I'd love to know what you all think, and how you're planning for it. I've been cutting my bills, saving money, and I'm debt free, but I need to start looking long term.

R-Boy said...

I don't think its doom n gloom 1970s malaise. Just don't spend more than you earn and you'll like be right fine.

What we're most likely looking at is the end of the steady march upward in the standard of living of the average US citizen for awhile as (no matter what happens) we pay for our excesses in years past with lower economic growth in the years to come.

Low-Grade Chronic Recession? I could see that.

Greater Depression? Nah.

king friday the 13th said...

it will end with the destruction of the middle class.

we will basically roll back to the start of the industrial evolution, before the unions and progressives mucked things up with 40 hr work weeks, worker safety, ended child labor, and pollution controls.

welcome to free trade, which is the race to the bottom. we now compete with 2 billion people who live on a $1 a day. Remember that the next time someone advocates eliminating the minimum wage.

Rob Dawg said...

Mouse, R-Boy and King XIII,

Yes to all of that. I've long asserted that the credit bubble will hasten the end of the American experiment with an upwardly mobile middle class. History will most likely record it as a temporary phenomena of the last half century. Some of us will slip into the upper classes, most reverting to working class and we may even see a reemergence of the merchantile class. I don't know whether we will socialize the poor and working classes into the the new working poor class. It is too early to say but California political trends and burgeoning Federalism say yes.

R-Boy said...

I don't see the middle-class disappearing. After the demographic problem of the baby-boomers (literally) dies off, we're back to a normally expected population distribution, which is basically a return to the worker/retiree ratio of the pre-90s (I think thats when it started declining).

I think there will still be room for class mobility, but it won't be something that happens. It won't be passivez. Someone who wants to move up will have to learn skills, acquire education, and work very hard. But how many folks will sacrifice present consumption for future gain? I worry about that.

However, I cannot agree with the criticism or the blame placed upon free trade. Free trade (if we actually had it, because we don't) isn't the issue. In fact, free trade frees up our resources so we can use them on our more productive enterprises and utilize our strengths (innovation, mainly). Again, we don't have free trade, so this is a moot point.

The minimum wage is mainly a joke. It's basically below the actual market clearing minimum wage, so its only effect is in the political arena. What, politicians lie?

America will be defined in the next 20 years by two groups. The educated and driven, and the Casey. I worry that Casey will win, because that path is easier.

Rob Dawg said...

The current "fre trade" rules are as free as California's free market electric experiment with the same predictable result6s. Problem is not only are we exporting low wage and other outsource viable goods and services but we are allowing our strategic advantages and intellectual property to be outright stolen. As the global playing field levels that is no longer an acceptable condition. The Chicomms get to pay $34 for a copy of Windows (when they do pay for it) and we get charged $299. Same with US developed drugs and other things. Intellectual property theft alone would reverse the US current account deficit and go a long ways towards lowering taxes and inflation in the US.

R-Boy said...

I agree completely about IP theft and its impact on America

Lost Cause said...

I see. Bananas, high in potassium, are often recommended to heart patients. They seem to postpone the inevitable heart attack.