Date: Monday, May 15, 2023
The global trade downturn has likely made it past its worst, but don’t bet on a swift turnaround.
Five of the 10 indicators on the Bloomberg Trade Tracker remained in below-normal range in the middle of May as shipping and export volumes weakened in major ports around the world. It’s a slight improvement from the month prior, when six data points were in the red.
While sentiment is still somber, it’s improving steadily as past stress points like shipping delays and raw material costs normalize. New orders are reflecting the optimism — even in the hard-hit electronics sector. That bodes well for the likes of Taiwan and South Korea, which have fallen behind in Asia’s manufacturing boom this year.
Any trade revival will likely be subdued in line with the emerging trend of “slowbalization,” called so because of the marked slowdown in cross-border flows and investment after the rapid bout of globalization. If the reopening boost from China manages to offset the slump in the US and Europe, it could help put a floor under consumer demand.
We’ve selected measures across shipping, sentiment and export volumes to watch. For the clearest indication, we measured how far each gauge is from historic norms. These data update in real time from the Bloomberg Terminal as they’re reported.