Trucking, tariffs and global trade issues were part of a conversation with Lee Klaskow at FreightWaves LIVE in Chicago Nov. 13.
Klaskow, a Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst, specializes in freight transportation and logistics, international marine shipping and air cargo.
Klaskow said looking at economic industry data and geopolitical, regulatory and demographic trends, along with trends in the freight transportation market, shows “there’s a lot more bad news in the market than there is good news.
“That’s really been driven by President Trump’s global trade war and an increase in protectionism around the globe, which is really weighing on global growth here in the U.S. and globally,” Klaskow said.
Other factors that are weighing down the global economy include Brexit, a potential recession in Germany and slowing growth in China, Klaskow added.
“Expectations have come in for the second half of the year in the U.S., which really doesn’t bode well for the full year — the consensus estimates, Wall Street’s estimates — looking at decelerating growth 1.7%,” Klaskow said. “The good news is that when things are really bad, they eventually become better. So you know, we believe that things are bottoming, which is a good sign.”
Bloomberg Intelligence, the research arm on the Bloomberg Terminal, aims to deliver an independent perspective providing in-depth analysis and data sets on industries and companies, as well as the government, credit and litigation factors that can impact decision-making.
Klaskow said Bloomberg Intelligence has around 280 analysts globally, including Europe, Asia and the U.S. They cover around 1,900 companies and about 135 industries globally.
“We have data from a lot of different freight folks. We have stuff from Truckstop.com, truckloadrate.com, just to name a few,” Klaskow said.
Bloomberg Intelligence does a quarterly survey with Truckstop.com’s owner-operators and responses from the most recent one showed optimism is low in the trucking industry.
“Only 31% [of owner-operators] think that things are going to improve, and on the demand side, same picture, you know, 42% expect demand increases over the next six months, and that is the lowest level since the third quarter of 2016,” Klaskow said.
FTR Transportation Intelligence is another data provider for Bloomberg. Klaskow said data from FTR shows that it expects “things to get better in terms of the driver shortage.”
“[Bloomberg] kind of takes an opposite approach — we think that the driver, the qualified driver, availability will always be an issue for the market,” Klaskow said.
Driver availability has constraints such as rigorous health and drug testing, he added.
“Carriers that do both the mandated urinalysis test and the hair follicle test, they find that 15% to 20% of the people that pass the analysis fail the hair follicle test. And there’s not really good legislation out there because obviously state by state marijuana’s legal. But from a federal and national standpoint, marijuana is illegal,” Klaskow said.
Klaskow said the trucking industry also needs to keep attracting younger qualified drivers.
“Most drivers are in their 50s, younger folks aren’t getting into the industry. It’s all about work-life balance, and the trucking industry needs to figure that out. The trucking industry has tried — with higher wages,” Klaskow said. “Trucking is a difficult job, but obviously it’s a job that needs to be done.”