Economy

Small-business lending bounces back

Borrowing money isn’t the best thing for an owner-operator to do in a down economy like this. But if you must – or plan to do so as soon as the recovery becomes more evident – it’s good to know how the market is changing. Small-business lending was dead in the water last year as the credit market collapsed, but CNNMoney.com reports that it’s “managed to heal itself” without help from the federal stimulus funding. “Figuring out ...

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Factories busier in July

Industrial production increased by a half-percent in July, the Federal Reserve announced today. While housing and other indicators with relevance to truck freight have shown twitches of life in recent months, this marked the first monthly increase in this measurement since December 2007 (not counting a hurricane-related rebound in October 2008). The manufacturing component of the index rose 1.0 percent in July. This was mostly due to a tax-revived auto industry, which saw vehicle assemblies jump ...

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Small business still hurting

 If you’ve caught the business news in recent days, you know there have been some positive signs. Home prices and sales, employment and other indicators are looking better, possibly meaning a bottoming out of the downturn. But when it comes to small business and credit, it’s still a mess, reports CNNMoney.com: “Bank lending is down, credit card interest rates are up, and the country's largest small business lender, CIT Group ... is hanging by a thread.” ...

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Putting safety news in context

 The good report last week on 2008’s highway fatality numbers, including truck-related deaths, was a bit incomplete because of the highly unusual drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT, in government-speak). Of course, that decline was due to months of outrageous fuel prices during late 2008. The press release from the American Trucking Associations conveniently failed to mention that factor, even though it did cite increased use of safety belts and the hours of service regs that ...

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Some bright spots in the supply chain

If you’re looking for good news, this morning’s report from the Institute for Supply Management has some: The overall economy grew in June. Warehouses are emptying out, which is good for trucking. Manufacturing failed to grow last month, though its rate of contraction is slowing. And seven of 18 industries did report growth to ISM: petroleum and coal products; printing and related support activities; wood products; nonmetallic mineral products; miscellaneous manufacturing; chemical products; and primary metals.  “Most ...

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Building permits among leading indicators

Today’s report on the Leading Economic Indicators is good news. It “increased sharply for the second consecutive month in May,” says The Conference Board. The strong points include some fiscal things, like interest rates and stock prices, but the positive freight-related items were building permits and, more indirectly, vendor performance and consumer expectations. “The index rose 1.2 percent (a 2.4 percent annual rate) between November 2008 and May 2009, the first time the index has increased over ...

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Prices: Down for truckload, up for diesel

If you’re thinking of getting your own authority for truckload hauling, think again. Or have some excellent contracts locked up before you jump. A June 8 conference call, hosted by Dahlman Rose & Co. with executives from five carriers (Cowan Systems, Fenway Partners, First Express and Roehl Transport), had little good news. “There was universal agreement that we are experiencing one of the worst pricing marketing in truckload history,” says Dahlman’s summary of the conference. The pressure ...

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June is bustin’ out

It seems that for economic news, June is bustin’ out all over, to cite the song from the old play, “Carousel.” Well, not all over, but there were some strong items announced June 1. I hope you’re seeing evidence in your freight. The overall economy grew for the first time following seven months of decline, according to executives surveyed in the latest manufacturing report from the Institute for Supply Management. Also, “May is the first month of ...

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Consumer confidence and housing

Your freight might be down, your dog might be snarling at you, but your fellow Americans are looking up, money-wise. At least relative to recent months, which isn’t saying too much. U.S. consumer confidence jumped in May to its highest level in eight months, according to the Conference Board, an industry group that measures this. It was the biggest one-month jump since April 2003. Likewise, the government’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators saw its first rise in ...

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Step right up for interest-free loan

It’s not every day someone offers you an interest-free loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced a program to do just that. As part of the stimulus package, SBA is launching America’s Recovery Capital loans June 15. The basics: Loans are up to $35,000. After you get the money, you have five years to repay. Not only is there no interest to be paid, but there are no SBA fees, either. Qualifying debt includes mortgages, lines of credit, credit ...

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