America's quiet ports  FEB 02 2009

The current inactivity at Port of Long Beach is indicative of larger problems in the highly coupled global economy. Americans are buying fewer goods, including those made abroad, so no new goods are coming in to the port and those that have already arrived are sitting on the docks, including 165+ acres of Toyota cars. Because Americans are not buying foreign goods, China has slowed production. Slowed production means that they don't need cardboard boxes for packaging. Since we ship our used paper to China for recycling into cardboard boxes, hundreds of tons of paper are sitting on the docks, unshipped. The strengthening of the dollar abroad means that American made goods aren't selling and the ships hauling them are unable to leave the port. Nothing is selling anywhere so everything sits in the now-constipated port.

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