Tuesday, February 16, 2010

L. A. Area Economist Sees Evidence of Retail Pickup in Business

The L. A. Times is reporting that L.A. and Long Beach ports see 1.6% gain in cargo traffic.

The gains are modest and volumes are far below peak years, but what I found most interesting was the end of the article:

John Husing, an Inland Empire economist who tracks the effect of international trade on one of the nation's biggest warehouse and distribution networks in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, has a home that overlooks San Timoteo Canyon, one of the state's most important historic transportation routes.

Stagecoaches used San Timoteo Canyon to get in and out of Southern California, Husing said. It was also the route used by the old Southern Pacific rail line. Now, the line is owned by Union Pacific.

During the worst months of the recession, Husing said, "there were hardly any freight trains. This month, the number seems to have tripled."

Husing said it was a sign that retailers were finally rebuilding their product inventories after letting them drop to very low levels in late 2009.

"We are beginning to see a definite pickup," he said. "These are some of the signals you always see when the U.S. is beginning to come out of a recession."

The parts of the economy farthest from the credit cycle, such as medical, tech and basic clothing, were always fated to rebound first.

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