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Four troubling global trade trends flashing consumer weakness for a market already fearing recession

By January 17, 2023No Comments

Wall Street’s biggest bank CEOs, from Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan to Brian Moynihan at Bank of America, were talking a recession as the “central case” as part of earnings reports on Friday morning.

It might be a “mild” one, as Moynihan predicts, but from the world of global trade, there are several indicators backing up the bank chiefs’ view of the macroeconomic landscape, flashing warning signals of continued consumer weakness for the first quarter.

The flow of trade is a real-time and forward-looking indicator of consumer spending and the economy because it shows supply, demand, and consumption. Here are four indicators to watch and what they are currently showing.

Indicator No. 1: Warehouse inventory and rates

Warehouse inventory is a good indicator of the health of the consumer because it gauges how much product is sitting in storage. The more product sitting in storage, the more it takes up valuable space and increases the price of storage. According to WarehouseQuote’s Warehouse Pricing Index report for Q1 2023, warehouse rates remain at high levels as a result of warehouse inventories not coming down significantly in November and December.