Trucking Skids into Downturn after Phenomenal Boom

A hard U-Turn.  

Orders for Class-8 trucks – the heavy trucks that haul consumer goods, equipment, commodities, and supplies across the US to feed the goods-based economy – plunged 52% in April compared to April last year, to 16,400 orders, according to FTR Transportation Intelligence on Friday. It was the lowest April since 2016 when the industry cycled through its last transportation recession. This comes after orders had already plunged 67% year-over-year in March, 58% in February and January, and 43% in December.

The collapse in orders is on the scale of the last transportation recession in 2015 and 2016. The chart shows the percent change of orders for each month compared to a year earlier:

The industry is very cyclical with big swings in both directions. Trucking companies get exuberant when capacity tightens and freight rates shoot up as they did in late 2017 and 2018, and they’re inclined to order when business is booming, but it takes a while to get these trucks built, and order backlogs at truck manufacturers piled up to reach close a year at the peak in 2018. Fear of not getting the equipment when they need it can cause industry-wide bouts of over-ordering at the peak of the cycle, which was summer 2018.

But as capacity rises, and the cyclical freight business backs off from its blistering growth phase and ticks down a little as it has been since late 2018, trucking companies adjust by reducing their orders, and when push comes to shove, if they can still do it, by cancelling their orders. And that’s what is happening here.

The boom in truck orders peaked in July and August 2018 with 52,000 orders each month and has since totally faded. April was the fourth month in a row of orders below the 20,000-unit mark (data via FTR):

During the last transportation recession in 2015 and 2016, truck manufacturers – Paccar (Peterbilt and Kenworth); Navistar International; Daimler (Freightliner and Western Star); and Volvo Group (Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks) announced waves of layoffs that rippled to some of their suppliers, including diesel-engine manufacturer Cummins.

So far, the historic backlog of Class-8 orders created during the ordering boom last year is buffering production. But changes are afoot, according to Don Ake, FTR VP of commercial vehicles:

“Near-term build slots are becoming available as fleets rearrange orders based on current needs. There still is limited cancellation activity, as fleets do not want to give up build slots they may need at a later date.”

“Some washout of the backlog due to increased cancellations is still expected to occur later this year.”

Trucking companies in recent months have been facing a very different market than in 2018 through last summer. Shipments by all modes of transportation – truck, rail, air, and barge – fell on a year-over-year basis for the fourth month in a row in March, according to the Cass Freight Index, which tracks shipments of goods for the consumer and industrial economy but does not cover bulk commodities, such as grains or chemicals. They were the first year-over-year declines since the transportation recession of 2015 and 2016:

Trucking companies are beginning to discuss the consequences of this change in shipping dynamics of a downtick in volume on an increase in capacity. For example, Greg Gantt, CEO of Old Dominion Freight Line, one of the larger trucking companies in the US, made reference to the new environment during the Q1 earnings call (from the transcript via Seeking Alpha):

“So, we’re just seeing some aggression that we have not seen in prior years. It’s not widespread at this point, but we are seeing some. So I think time will better tell that story, but we have seen a little more aggression than we’ve been used over the last couple of years.”

And when truckers are starting to have to fret over cutting prices in order to maintain volume, it’s also time to review the orders for new equipment and cull non-essentials. And it ripples across the industry.

J.B. Hunt, the largest US trucking company has spoken on this topic: “Volume, or lack thereof, is obviously the main story.” The inventory pile-up hurts. And the driver shortage is ending. Read… What J.B. Hunt Just Said About the U-Turn in Trucking

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  106 comments for “Trucking Skids into Downturn after Phenomenal Boom

  1. Howard Fritz
    May 5, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Does this tie in with the increase in inventories written about a few days prior? On an aside, I just learned that Uber has a freight division I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    • Noneya
      May 5, 2019 at 7:14 am

      They are horrible. The company I work with used them a few times and they have yet to pay the freight bill….uber freight is something to stay away from

      • May 5, 2019 at 11:15 am

        I used to say those things about Fedex, when I worked in a warehouse. Their drivers didn’t handle “freight” and they would drop off important orders at the main shipping office to avoid making two stops. UPS was carrying the load and Fedex was there for overpriced overnight envelopes with marketing pamphlets stuffed inside. Never could figure them out.

      • Francis Consul
        May 5, 2019 at 11:38 am

        I knew it trucking its just a big laundry money the poor steering holders company driver nobody gives a dime about them poor America corruption its every corner of the trucking industry we better start learning Chinese and Russian languages America is losing its grip

    • Tm
      May 5, 2019 at 9:23 am

      Hopefully uber freight wont get you drivers to work for nickel dime wages like it’s done to us 4 wheel drivers

      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
        May 5, 2019 at 9:34 pm

        Where I am, if you’re doing anything in the “gig” economy, especially Uber, it means you’re desperate.

    • A/C in SD
      May 6, 2019 at 9:23 am

      In San Diego all of these little obnoxious scooters that are showing up all over town have Uber stickers on them. Guess they are branching out. Good luck with that!

      • Luis
        May 6, 2019 at 10:56 pm

        You sir “outlookingIn”, ate a genius. A master of the spoken word. I commend you, for you and I , and hope that as many as poasible will awaken to the truth. We are a 3rd world country in sheeps skin. We break our backs and our minds to throw the money right back to “them”, so we can point at each other, and claim whom is the poorest. We blame goverment, we blame the “mexicans”, we blame China, but when have we been “OutlookingIn”. A lethal verbal assault on the “truth”.

    • Jonah
      May 6, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      More reasons to underpay one of the hardest working men and women in America, hands down, if it wasn’t so cynical it would be laughable, GREED,

  2. Senecas cliff
    May 5, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Recently Daimler announced they were going to convert part of the Western Star plant in Portland to making electric (battery trucks). But they admitted actual production of these E Trucks was probably going to happen by 2025 at the earliest. So it seems to partially be an excuse to cut diesel class 8 truck production without admitting weakness.

    • James Walker
      May 5, 2019 at 8:52 am

      Electric propulsion is not gonna be in class 8 trucks due to several mitigating factors in longevity n cost plus repair cost once in operation these science guys are sort of headed in the right direction but battery gasses and contamination is highly volatile n dangerous in both cell damage which puts off a gas fine n it can kill u instantly on top of that a 1000 gallon spill of diesel on the ground has less impact then 10 batteries the cost of sensors and switches to operate the e truck is too costly n not up to par for long-term usage therefore we need to better understand all the do’s n dont’s before we harm the environment even more it is a proven fact that natural diesel exhaust leaves little carbon foot print n if we were to add a spark generation burner in the exhaust system the rwmaing part of fumes n car on would vanish into thin air

      • Satya Mardelli
        May 5, 2019 at 4:04 pm

        Wrong. Nikola is building an E- truck plant in Arizona. They have orders for 3,000 Class 8 tractors. Anheuser- Busch has ordered 800. Production begins in 2020.

        Hydrogen fuel cells delivers the juice. Instant torque straight to the drive wheels.

        Nikolamotor.com/motor

        • Senecas Cliff
          May 6, 2019 at 1:12 pm

          Lets see, a startup truck company run by a guy who has no college degree that cribbed its name from the first name of the greatest electrical genius of the last century, since another hustler had already cribbed his last name ( Nikkola Tesla). I sense another subsidy dumpster company on the rise

    • Nathaniel P Mullikin
      May 5, 2019 at 10:29 am

      New trucks are maintenance landmines. New anti idling laws, buyers reluctance to buy APUs and a glut of immigrants willing to be treated like cattle: it’s a horrible place to live.

    • Jonah
      May 6, 2019 at 10:58 pm

      Sounds about right

  3. OutLookingIn
    May 5, 2019 at 2:45 am

    Just another fundamental –

    You all must be sick of listening to me drone on about “fundamentals”.
    They are important, as too many just look at GDP, inflation, and unemployment. While willfully ignoring, or unable to put together the complete picture.

    Almost every economic pundit is looking for the next recession, when it’s already here! I portend that it began at the beginning of December and announced it’s presents with a mini-crash.

    Much too late to do anything to prevent it.
    There are only two ways out now. None good.
    Debt default or high inflation.
    Both result in the destruction of money, with the end being plenty of worthless money, which is no different from having not enough money that retains value.

    The majority of the population continues to be paralyzed by normalcy bias, cognitive dissonance, and the propaganda from those in power. However, the great unwashed are starting to awaken. The rich are becoming fearful, as can be seen in the increasing numbers of them fleeing to any place they view as being “safe”.
    The underclasses will take the decades of rage and resentment, that has slowly built up and go bat s**t crazy with it!

    • SilverDelta
      May 5, 2019 at 4:55 am

      Love that summation. Especially the end. There has been too much time that the 1% has been at the trough. It’s time to share.

      • John
        May 5, 2019 at 11:20 pm

        You should admire those people, it proves you can get their to. Here’s something for you, it doesn’t matter if I have 100 dollars or 1 billion dollars I wouldn’t share with you. If want more work for it and earn it . Or are you that lazy and expect handouts?

        • Pete
          May 6, 2019 at 10:02 am

          Hey dude you need to do a reality check when the top 1% are making 930% more and wages then the bottom 99% which is only gone up about 11 and a half percent you really need to flush out your headgear there dude and get your s*** wire tight

        • Troy
          May 6, 2019 at 11:58 am

          You really believe what you write ? Truly wished it was that easy for everyone, nice thought though!

    • Max Power
      May 5, 2019 at 6:48 am

      Nope. We are not in a recession yet.

      You’ll know a recession arrived when the unemployment rate begins a rising trend. That’s how it ALWAYS works.

      • V8
        May 5, 2019 at 10:02 am

        Max Power – only if you believe the Government figures that are fabricated to look as good as possible until they cant hide it, which by then its well under way….

        • OutLookingIn
          May 5, 2019 at 3:18 pm

          Max Power –

          The Bureau of Labor Statistics admits misreporting, saying “the confidence level for the monthly change in total employment is on the order of plus or minus 430,000 jobs.”
          REAL unemployment is near 23% as 102.5 million working age Americans are without jobs.
          Please do your own research with an open mind and cross reference any and all “facts” you may come across.
          Break free from your self imposed deception and delusion.

      • DawnsEarlyLight
        May 5, 2019 at 10:04 am

        It’s easy to ‘trend’ the unemployment rate, when you can counter the real ‘trend’ with ‘not in the labor force’. Pure hogwash for the cleanest dirty shirt!

      • SocalJim
        May 5, 2019 at 1:13 pm

        We are not in a recession yet, but with the election next year, you can bet a the Dems need a recession to beat the president. Their recession propaganda is on the launch pad … 3 … 2 … 1

      • OutLookingIn
        May 5, 2019 at 1:23 pm

        Max Power –

        According to government statistics, unemployment is now the lowest its been since 1969! Fifty years! Nice round number. Is it not?
        How can this be true when 100 million people who want jobs, are unable to find them?
        Unemployment, GDP, and inflation numbers (among many others) issued by the government are pure fantasy. To outright believe them as the “truth”, is to take up residency on Fantasy Island.
        Many will receive a rude and vicious awakening. Soon.

        • Annette Elbaz
          May 5, 2019 at 1:40 pm

          100 million are looking for jobs that will actually give them an above poverty life. That’s different than just looking for work.

        • Max Power
          May 5, 2019 at 2:08 pm

          Where did you get this 100 million want a job and can’t get one statistic?

          Try actually hiring people nowadays… still very difficult.

        • nicko2
          May 5, 2019 at 3:01 pm

          Lowest unemployment rate since 1969…….. It’s also the lowest labor participation rate since 1969! …. Think about that for a second…. Then realize all those people out there that are neither counted as employed or unemployed.

        • economicminor
          May 5, 2019 at 5:58 pm

          George Orwell would be proud of them.. or Horrified!
          They read the book and said, we can do that!
          And they are.

        • Paul
          May 5, 2019 at 8:08 pm

          I own my own truck and I work on a medium size trucking company!
          The topic was the decrease in truck sales!
          Everything that you see touch and eat except air ,clouds and this kind of blah blah blah , that I’m not taking about,including the nice phones we are writing when replying to this conversation,are brought to the consumer by a truck. NO EXCEPTION!
          I see a decrease in freight movement and prices per loads of almost 30% if not more !
          What does that mean ??? If it’s so
          nice and beautiful and everyone has a job (a decent payed job ),why the prices are dropping and also the orders for freight are decreasing?
          We are free falling if you ask me!
          Close to an end ,to the actual end ,not the one that we had free years ago !
          What’s gonna happen ? A 3 rd world war maybe !? I’m not a prophet to say that but usually that what’s happening in this situation!

        • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
          May 5, 2019 at 9:38 pm

          Annette Elbaz – No kidding. Back in 1986, 87, 88, etc I made over 2X the minimum wage and worked a lot of overtime too. Now, these days, I make barely over the min. wage, half-time.

          This is why the min. wage needs to be a living wage because all jobs are regressing to the min. wage.

        • JacqueSchitt
          May 6, 2019 at 1:53 am

          Super scary stuff …hail nimrod🧟

      • akiddy111
        May 5, 2019 at 4:41 pm

        Max Power,

        Completely agree.

        The BLS released reports in Q3 and Q4 of 2007 showing – although historically low – a very gradual rise in unemployment rates from 4.5% to 5%. A powerful sign that the 2003-2007 expansion was running out of steam.

        This is 1 of a small handful of variables i look closely at.

        Would not worry much about truck orders. 2017 was a strong year in orders and 2018 was even bigger.

        Also, BNSF, UNP, CSX are guiding just fine.

        JBHT, CHRW, Expeditors, etc. are not showing any meaningful signs of a material slowdown right now.

        • May 5, 2019 at 4:49 pm

          Despite a booming stock market and all-time highs in general, JBHT is down 26% from its peak last summer. That may not be “meaningful” if “meaningful” is >50%, but it’s still a noticeable decline.

        • Max Power
          May 5, 2019 at 6:47 pm

          It’s not just 2007. An uptick in unemployment is always associated with the beginning of a recession. Always.

          See shaded areas here: https://ritholtz.com/2016/06/162889

          This said, do many signs point to a slowing down of the economy? The answer to that is yes. However, there is a difference between slowdown and recession. Will the slowdown lead to a recession? Quite possibly yes also (but we are not there now – regardless of what the tinfoil hat folks might think).

          Also remember that the vast majority of the US economy is services, and they are not (yet anyway) showing the same weakness as manufacturing.

      • NickL
        May 5, 2019 at 5:07 pm

        First time claims would be trending higher, instead they have been trending lower and have been under 200K for 2 out of the last 4 weeks reported.

    • 2banana
      May 5, 2019 at 8:23 am

      Liberal rich fools who destroyed their home cities and states by turning them deep blue with their socialist democrat taxes/policies and who now refuse to live under the mess they made.

      So they move to red states and start the cycle again…

      +++++

      “The rich are becoming fearful, as can be seen in the increasing numbers of them fleeing to any place they view as being “safe”.

      • Bobber
        May 5, 2019 at 7:46 pm

        What’s with the rah rah Red vs. Blue garbage? You are being played.

      • HowNow
        May 6, 2019 at 6:22 am

        2banana,
        “Being played” is an apt description. If it weren’t for “liberals”, you’d be one of the following:
        1) non-existent because your ancestors would have died long ago from enslavement or starvation. It was the rise of the merchant class that began the process of “liberalization” of the world’s economies
        2) an indentured servant or slave as the Crown (any one of them) would choose. No abortions! Children are, indirectly, chattel of the king.
        3) unable to read this blog: people who hold power want, least of all, to allow the peasants any education whatsoever.

        The U S Constitution is essentially a “liberal” document – liberation from the English Crown.

        Don’t conflate socialism with liberalism, unless, of course, you insist on being played.

      • IdahoPotato
        May 6, 2019 at 9:33 am

        On April 30, 1993, CERN put the World Wide Web software in the public domain. You are able to post your drivel here because of liberal socialist policies. Chew on that for a minute.

      • James
        May 6, 2019 at 10:54 pm

        Here we go gettin off the subject again, if ur not super rich and U don’t have to be a part of any party, its not about U, so sad, so emotional, its 1 congress, 1 senate, stop pointing fingers and listening to fake news, thanks trump, they are 1,

    • Cynic
      May 5, 2019 at 10:58 am

      I would tend to have the greatest sympathy for workers entombed in an Amazon fulfillment centre, or the like, going crazy.

      I would certainly be feeling pre-Revolutionary myself ,if I had to endure the conditions which they impose.

      • Lion
        May 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm

        Wouldn’t want the job where you are filmed and analyzed the whole work day.

      • NickL
        May 5, 2019 at 5:02 pm

        No one is forced to accept or work such a job for any longer time than they wish. Amazon fulfillment center workers aren’t like girls forced into sex trafficking or like Chinese peasants who were smuggled into the USA.. Remember that the UE rate is 3.6% and there are over 7 million open positions and a larger ratio of open jobs to unemployed persons than any time in history

        • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
          May 5, 2019 at 9:41 pm

          You pretty much have to know someone or be related to someone, to get a job these days. It’s really freaking hard. It always was, but it’s gotten a lot harder. You need to meet requirements like 5 years’ experience in software that’s only existed for 3, etc.

    • Chico
      May 5, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      True

    • Randolph Privott
      May 5, 2019 at 7:03 pm

      I disagree slightly, the recession began last July, the first sign hit the stock market with mini crash few months ago, we are currently in the bounce before the real crash.

    • Jim Bradley
      May 5, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Huh?
      You sound scared…hahahahahaha

    • Marcus Jones
      May 6, 2019 at 8:05 am

      Outlookingin, quit trying to be economics professor. A recession is defined as three straight months of negative GDP growth. I’ll go out on a limb here and say I don’t see that happening for quite a while.

      • May 6, 2019 at 9:36 am

        A “technical recession” is two quarters in a row of declining GDP. An official recession is one that is called out by an official entity. In the US, the NBER calls out official recessions.

      • OutLookingIn
        May 6, 2019 at 12:01 pm

        Marcus Jones –

        Judging someone, then casting aspersions against them, is not an intelligent refutation of facts.
        Your recession “opinion” is exactly that – an opinion. Which I may add, is quite as common as rectums. Everybody has one!

  4. carlos donestevez
    May 5, 2019 at 4:38 am

    You know just as good as the rest of us that companies over ordered trucks last year to take advantage of the tax break for new equipment.stop trying to scare a recession into existence.

    • TRACY GRIFFIN
      May 5, 2019 at 10:54 am

      That is an excellent summation. More credible than other ” The sky is falling” fools.

      • DawnsEarlyLight
        May 6, 2019 at 10:25 am

        carlos had a valid opinion, but it does not negate the opinion of others. Your first sentence would have been all you had to post.

    • kam
      May 5, 2019 at 10:55 am

      Wolf:
      Orders are ephemeral. During a crazy time, when I worked for Caterpillar, we had an order book where its dealers told customers the waiting time for a D8 Cat was over 12 months.
      Within 6 months time Caterpiller had an inventory all over North America where you could get any D8 you wanted instantly.
      As delivery times increase, lots of orders become “insurance” policies, quickly cancelled and abandoned when the realization that you might be getting delivery of something you don’t need. Lots of people just abandon the deposits or tell the dealers they can have the old worn out trade-in (which formed the deposit in the first place).
      Dealers, already choking on inventory, and with an eye to future business to that very same customer, go along with the cancellation.
      So order books are, ahem, elastic.

    • May 5, 2019 at 11:12 am

      carlos donestevez,

      J.B. Hunt, the largest trucker in the US, and Old Dominion, one of the larger ones — both cited in the article — have identified freight volume as the problem. And they said so in their earnings calls.

      • MaxDakota
        May 6, 2019 at 11:41 am

        This. We use OD sometimes and others, and across the board are seeing marginally better rates. 2nd tier freight forwarders are calling on us to drum up business. After all, freight is all about volume.

    • Bobber
      May 5, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      The immediate write-off for new equipment has been in the tax code for many years now. That has nothing to do with the spike in orders we saw.

    • Glen
      May 6, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      The truck buying goes In cycles just like other market value products.refer to real estate and it’s over evaluation ,and crash.
      The larger fleet buyers know there is x value over n years for any price of equipment.if a driver shortage is now relaxed a bit,ie better pay equals better retention,so a slump in truck sales might be better related to the large fleet buyers retaining their equipment longer,for lower cost over a longer period,as the driver pool has become more stabilized.

  5. Big Mike
    May 5, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Yes we are heading to recession ( we are there).
    Trucking/ Transportation industry feels it first before the average citizen feels it. Wake up America, You have a clown in office who has no clue. When exports are down 40 percent and have a trade war going on that we didn’t need. What do you expect?? Wake up America

    • Chico
      May 5, 2019 at 1:36 pm

      True, some people get it

    • nicko2
      May 5, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      40% of America is under the spell of a clown. Can’t be helped.

      • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
        May 5, 2019 at 9:44 pm

        A large metals recycling place near me, on Old Bayshore in San Jose, has a notice on its front gate to “pay rent or quit” they owe $20k-odd in rent.

        I believe this is because of the trade war with China, whatever blocking actions The Orange One has enacted (I understand the Chinese don’t want, or can’t buy, our scrap any more) and I’d expect to see more of this as the US gets the South Africa treatment by the civilized world.

        • Ethan in Northern VA
          May 6, 2019 at 2:54 pm

          There was an e-cycling place near me that had a side place where they set side stuff that might still have value. Commercial video decks, CRTs, vintage computers… it was a gold mine for collectors of retro tech. It closed because China quit buying the metals, or it became not worth it to ship most metals (coppers and some others still had value.) Perhaps they got enough raw materials, or changed sources. I doubt imports of goods have died down that much, but processes changed and they don’t desire to ship the cheap metals that far.

    • economicminor
      May 5, 2019 at 6:02 pm

      I read that farm bankruptcies are ramping up. Weren’t these the people who voted Trump into office?

      • Duke DeGuise
        May 5, 2019 at 7:39 pm

        People aren’t tired of winning yet.

  6. 2banana
    May 5, 2019 at 8:18 am

    This article plus QE unwind article + global trade slowing down article + housing bubble implosion article…

    So many key indicators of things ready to tumble.

    But when and where? Always the hardest questions.

    • ooe
      May 5, 2019 at 9:04 am

      You can look no further at the ISM manufacturing index that is at 52 which the lowest since October 2016, and the non-manufacturing index at 55.5 which is the lowest of August 2017. I would look at those two indices.

      • akiddy1
        May 5, 2019 at 5:43 pm

        The Non – manufacturing ISM number is one to watch. However 55.5 is nothing to get alarmed about.

      • Pathfinder
        May 5, 2019 at 8:21 pm

        E logs stopped the flow of freight. Population grows every year and the demand grows with it. If drivers can’t make the miles and lose money, they quit and go home to do other jobs that will pay. I did. No drivers means less demand for trucks. Something nobody has even given a second thought to. Thank your government for killing an entire way of life. The sweat shop on wheels is not for me.

        • Lee Deavers
          May 6, 2019 at 7:20 am

          Agree, the ELD cut my profit over 50%. I got out. My rig is sitting and waiting for new laws but hope is running out.

        • Glen
          May 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm

          Many factors involved,your comments are a clue.wh oil wants to to work 168 hours a week for 3.57 an hour?.
          A shiny truck won’t entice most anyone these days. Tariffs are ,in the end,a tax on the poor and ELD’s area are a tariff on the working poor truck driver and all the associated industries that support it

    • Paulo
      May 5, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      China trade talks just tanked and futures down 400 pts on 25% tariff announcement plus on another 325 billion of goods. Will that do? :-)

      Myself, if I was SEC I would look at shorts and insider friends of those in high places who like to Tweet.

      • p coyle
        May 6, 2019 at 1:15 am

        SEC? Look at something?!!! Paulo, you crack me up!

        cheers.

  7. Glenn Lemay
    May 5, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Nobody ever mentions Tariffs are,also effecting us. Trump is hard negotiating the deal as we speak. I seen numerous under construction warehouses being built. They would not be building them with out insight.

    • njbr
      May 5, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Insight into investors looking for a hot REIT to make big returns?

      Insight into the idea that more imports will need warehoused?

      Insight into the rise of inventory?

      All signs of great things to come, eh ?

      • Glen
        May 6, 2019 at 1:10 pm

        Those warehouses create narrow and firm market control for any market where the consumer expects their whims to be filled immediately.instant ordering with a tightly controlled inventory,meta data sold and gathered,algorithms show who buys when and where and how much. So high levels of truck fleets not needed when data is mined to know when a truck is needed or not,when available.
        Consider @Mason. How about toysurus not changing market strategies…knocked the socks off toy industry,sell to amazon..stockholders get a return.@Mason is building their own transportation network with smaller delivery vehicles and some of truck manufacturers market share is lost there.

    • Baseline
      May 5, 2019 at 7:27 pm

      Insight? The same kind of insight as starting a mortgage lending company on the eve of the housing crash? The same insight as opening a second casino funded by junk bonds that cannibalizes business from the first one opened? Those are just two of many examples of such keen insight that Trump has demonstrated in his many failures. He isn’t alone just look at those professional investors that all got cleaned out in the great recession taking down banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, capital wealth management companies and so on.

      • p coyle
        May 6, 2019 at 1:28 am

        the looting has become so egregious that the peons are beginning to notice something amiss. hence, we have our current politics, to ensure that the kleptocrats zoom off to their bunkers with as much of the loot as possible.

  8. tom
    May 5, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Some just have to read the title of the article a little closer.

    None of my friends that own trucking firms have quit looking
    for drivers. ALL are short drivers. Then again they were short on drivers during the last trucking “recession” of 2015 -2016.

    Our #’s are tracking the same as 2018 at this point. We are booked much further out than we have ever been…..but that’s because of the late start to spring.

    • May 5, 2019 at 11:07 am

      tom,

      Good for you and your friends. Must be doing something right.

      J.B. Hunt and Old Dominion — both cited in the article — have very different takes. For them, freight volume is now the problem. And they said so in their earnings calls.

      • kam
        May 5, 2019 at 6:44 pm

        Wolf
        Are the railroads down too?
        Copper, although down significantly from its highs of many years ago, still seems to be bouncing around in a relatively tight range.
        When futures hit $650 on 2×4 SPF, mills, as usual, got greedy, jacked up production, built more wood monsters, and have oversupplied the market. Futures is around $350, which is around where the cash market is.

      • Jesse
        May 5, 2019 at 11:29 pm

        Yes, if they keep saying that they can pay their drivers less. Is easy to elastic some numbers so other things can work in your favor.

      • Jesse
        May 5, 2019 at 11:31 pm

        And Freight in Canada seems to be doing just fine. All the companies that I know are looking for drivers here, we can’t find enough of them.

      • Glen
        May 6, 2019 at 1:20 pm

        What percentage of JB and OD freight is containerized volume lost due to tarriffs? These two companies are global, and a great percentage of the containers are moved on rail to ports,ie Oakland carson,long beach,Portland and Seattle. While JB/OD have reduced driver needs,therefore new truck purchases as there is less need
        ..indications show tariffs have had an effect with less products being purchased from china

    • Chico
      May 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Maybe they should stop looking for drivers and just pay drivers. Radical idea in these times, I know.

      • Michael Fiorillo
        May 5, 2019 at 7:41 pm

        Thank you.

      • tom
        May 5, 2019 at 8:01 pm

        I’ll pass it on to them the idea of just “paying them”.

        Maybe just leave the check blank. Let the employee complete.

      • Serge
        May 6, 2019 at 8:26 pm

        What I noticed if you pay drivers decent wage they just try to work less. The so called driver shortage is because you have fewer people wanting to spend 200+ days a year in the truck. About declining truck orders, no one in their right mind will order new equipment in this market. Why you think companies stopping all operations. Falcon transport 600 trucks, William’s trucking 50 trucks all went out of business in a single day. Did even bother give their drivers advance notice. These companies are in the news, but how many more small 5-20 truck companies shutting down, that we don’t hear about?

    • Lee Deavers
      May 6, 2019 at 7:25 am

      Of course they are short drivers, no one wants to work for $6.00 an hour. There is no shortage of drivers; your friends have turnover issues.

  9. Iamafan
    May 5, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Are the downturn stats similar for independents (owner-operators) and corporations?

  10. Rowen
    May 5, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    Locally, the past several years, because of the construction boom, the dumpster companies were aggressively recruiting CDL’s. Why not, when you’re charging $250 to switch out construction cans. My friend was getting a day rate between $350-400… Of course, this put pressure all kinds of pressure on long haul trucking. Why schlep out of town, when you can clear $100K working 9-5?

    So the introduction of hub-to-hub freight by Amazon Logistics should be good for the industry? Lol. No one wants last-mile freight…

  11. Unamused
    May 5, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    It was the lowest April since 2016 when the industry cycled through its last transportation recession.

    Interestingly, the US airline industry has an annual cycle in passenger miles flown, peaking in the spring and bottoming out in mid-winter. It seems immune to the business cycle, which one might expect if its customers are mainly well-to-do, who continue to do well even when everybody else suffers.

    The shipping industry cycle typically appears to coincide with the so-called business cycle, which seems reasonable: if the economy isn’t doing well, neither is shipping, and vice versa, as one might expect.

    I found it interesting that that the US shipping industry is entering a cyclical downturn at the same time the US economy is booming. Upon closer examination, other, independent data suggest the US economy is not actually booming, and that US economic data are fudged, which is also what one would expect, under the circumstances.

    Let’s see. What else is interesting here:

    2banana: So they move to red states and start the cycle again…

    Not even a good try. The data clearly show that the red states parasitise the blue states, so do your doody and dismiss the data as fake news.

    ooe: I would look at those two indices.

    In the post-fact era no data is reliable, although that is only certain to apply to data from the Commerce Department.

    Big Mike: You have a clown in office who has no clue.

    On the contrary, he knew exactly what he was doing, because he very deliberately made a career of it, the goal of his existence and the bane of every other. The septic symptoms were always numerous, obvious, fully recognised for what they were, and passed over. All the best students of his long malignant history screamed to high heaven and in vain that he was the most iniquitous and dangerous person in human history, bar none, and could not possibly be survivable. ‘Nuff said.

    Ah, here it is.

    Heinlein, Robert Anson. “The Year of the Jackpot,” in The Menace From Earth. New York: The Gnome Press, 1959. Print.

    • kitten lopez
      May 6, 2019 at 10:16 am

      (okay, i put that book on hold at the library)

  12. Unamused
    May 5, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    As of this moment, US equity futures are tanking, dropping 400 points after DLT’s latest tariff tantrum catches traders off guard. Traders had been expecting a deal.

    Closely-related risk uncertainties do not seem to have been priced into the stock market for years.

    • Paulo
      May 5, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      I just posted up above it might be a good idea to look at shorts and friends. Yes, some things are rigged.

    • OutLookingIn
      May 5, 2019 at 6:43 pm

      Think back to last Summer when the FAANGs crashed 40% followed by the December stock markets mini crash, which resulted in the NYSE falling 20% from its previous high and the Russell 2000 shedding 28% of its value. And as yet, not made back the losses.

      Of course these poor stats caused the Fed to do an uncharacteristic, quick about face and stop the auto-pilot balance sheet reduction and to not raise interest rates.

      The action in the markets now, can be described as being irrational exuberance. Peak exuberance during peak irrationality. Any further market weakness will be met with “all guns blazing”. Look for rate cuts, more QE, the PPT pulling out all stops, and much inference of how great everything is! It will not work this time around.

    • Rowen
      May 5, 2019 at 6:45 pm

      It’s kinda bizarre how much the capital markets respond to presidential TWEETS…

      • May 5, 2019 at 9:54 pm

        This is a new world we live in. Every algo is set to incorporate Trump’s tweets into trading decisions.

        • HowNow
          May 6, 2019 at 5:47 am

          Is it reasonable to assume that the Trump entourage front-runs these “tweets” with option trading to max out these moves? Maybe that’s why he reverses his pronouncements so often – first buy puts, then calls, etc. Hey, lets just start with a single commodity, like aluminum… Just my impression… maybe just fake thoughts.

  13. T. Stanley
    May 5, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Despite the MSM hype and misreporting, I believe we are still living through the 2nd great depression. We have simply chosen cancer instead of a train wreck as every dollar printed creates less economic activity.

  14. tom
    May 5, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Xi had his pet rocket boy fire off a few.

    Trump responded. Just the latest round in trade negotiations.

  15. Bet
    May 6, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Hownow
    I don’t think trump savey enough to frontrun a short. I do think he loves moving the markets with a tweet
    One needs more than an attention span of a gnat to pull that off

  16. Martin Fee
    May 6, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    These vehicles are not like cars. A million plus miles is the rule not the exception. So companies buy when things are good, so their not stuck with failing vehicles when things slow down.
    We have more ppl back to work In the last 3 years than in my lifetime, eventually it’s going to even out which causes orders for goods to slow, it’s simple economics. But it’s not some economy crashing trend

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