By Roger Gilroy, Senior Reporter
May 27, 2020, 3:00 PM EDT
Present conditions signal the bottom of the pandemic’s vertiginous drawdown of the freight market, trucking industry observers said. But other economic conditions, in place earlier in 2019 and 2020, remain as a potential drag.
“We are dealing with two interconnected events,” said Robert Dieli, an economist with MacKay & Co., a research firm that specializes in the aftermarket truck parts market.
In January, the chance of a recession was pretty high, he and others said, and 2020 looked to be a challenge — given increased tariffs, and softening imports and exports. Truck and trailer orders were falling, too. By the middle of the year, Dieli expected “real issues” would affect trucking and the overall economy.
“[Then came the] heavy blow in March and April — and I think some of the stuff we are hearing in May, at least as it relates to MacKay’s Truckable Economic Activity index — suggests some of the effects of that first [pandemic] blow have begun to … what’s the word for when someone has punched you in the face, what’s the period when you haven’t been hit again, but your face still hurts? I think that’s where we are.”
TEA is MacKay & Co.’s index for measuring all types of economic activity that moves by truck, from consumer goods to construction activity to imports and exports.