Experts Foresee Better Trucking Economy in 2004

Economists at an American Trucking Associations panel discussion in October agreed that the economic recovery is well under way, and the trucking industry should start reaping the benefits in 2004.

“The economy grew robustly in the third quarter,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of Global Insight Inc. He added that the combination of low interest rates, tax cuts by the Bush administration and a weakened dollar “puts the economy in a good position going into 2004 for a sustained recovery.”

Behravesh said he believes there should be steady increases in capital spending, consumer confidence and the jobs markets.

Donald Broughton, senior transportation analyst for A.G. Edwards and Sons, foresees brighter days ahead for trucking following more than two years of a down cycle.

He points to the recent increase in freight tonnage and the lower inventory of used trucks as good signs for fleets and truck and engine manufacturers. “Intramodal and LTL seem to be doing well,” Broughton said. “The only trucking sector that we didn’t see improve in the third quarter was linehaul, but that will change. I believe 2004 and 2005 are going to be good years.”

ATA chief economist Bob Costello moderated the discussion at the organization’s annual Management Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio.