Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Everything's bigger in China...

Even the job fairs!! This was the scene at a job fair in China for recent college graduates. As we've seen in the US, a college degree has become little more than a debt accumulation vehicle. Colleges are failing to produce high quality trained employees that can hit the ground running.
China is reaching the same conclusion in a shorter time frame....
"Unemployed university graduates used to be rare in China. But now their ranks are ballooning to critical levels just as the country suffers its worst economic slump in two decades. Up to one-third of last year's 5.6 million university graduates are still looking for work, and this year will see another 6.1 million hit the labor market."
The markets swung sharply on higher than expected consumer confidence. However, as with most data, the devil's in the details. The bulk of the jump in confidence was due to higher expectations of future improvement - people are keeping hope alive. However, the current situation was basically unchanged and the employment outlook component weakened.
I try to separate happy fluff pieces from reality. Here's a piece of real-time data on the US economy...
" The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 4.5 percent in March, marking the first month-to-month decrease of 2009.
The gains during the previous two months, which totaled 4.5 percent, were erased with March’s drop. (February’s increase was revised down to 1.5 percent.) In March, the SA tonnage index equaled just 101.4 (2000 = 100), which is its lowest level since March 2002.
The fleets did report higher volumes than in February, as the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) index increased 10.2 percent, but that is well below the 15 to 20 percent range that NSA tonnage usually rises from February to March. In March, the NSA index equaled 104.7."
So while you've been hearing anecdotal evidence of a few more shipments here or there, the reality is that seasonally shipping should improve sharply in March/April. We've seen a small uptick but it's not enough to offset the shift in seasonality.

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