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The Economic Impact of North America’s Most Vital Trade Corridor

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The Economic Impact of North America's Most Vital Trade Corridor

The Impact of North America’s Most Vital Trade Corridor

Long before highways and railroads covered the vast expanses of North America, crucial trade was conducted through the towns and outposts located along the shores of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

This region is integral in both U.S. and Canadian histories, and it’s still the most vital trade corridor in North America today. In fact, every year 230 million metric tonnes of cargo pass through these important waterways, and it’s estimated that an impressive 30% of total U.S.-Canada economic activity takes place in the broader Great Lakes region itself.

Today’s infographic comes to us from the Chamber of Marine Commerce, and it uses data from the a recent report covering the economic impacts of maritime shipping in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region.

A Crucial Trade Corridor

Freighter trade in the Great Lakes originally gained prominence in the 1840s, when copper and iron ore were discovered in the areas surrounding the lakes. This kickstarted large-scale shipping, and was the catalyst that led to the familiar lake freighters that are often seen on the waters now.

In modern times, these metals are just one of many different categories of products that can be found aboard active vessels.

Here are the most important types of cargo that make up the $77.4 billion (C$100 billion) of goods that flow through these lakes and waterways each year:

  • Iron ore, aluminum, and finished steel
  • Limestone and cement
  • Grain (wheat, barley, soybeans, corn, and canola)
  • Petroleum products such as gasoline
  • Fertilizers, sugar, and road salt
  • Containers filled with consumer goods or manufactured products
  • Oversized cargo, such as wind turbines or other machinery

There are 100+ port cities and towns that are connected through the waterways, and the region facilitates trade to 60+ countries, as well.

The Economic Impact

What are the economic benefits stemming from all the trade that originates in these 2,300 miles (3,700 km) of river and lake systems?

According to the most recent edition of the report, marine cargo and vessel activity generated a total of $45.6 billion of economic impact in the U.S. and Canada, including $17.9 billion of personal income and $9 billion of tax revenue. Further, it’s estimated that 328,500 jobs have been created or are sustained by port activity, with the majority of them in places like Ontario, Quebec, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio.

Even in the digital age, physical goods (food, materials, machinery, consumer goods, etc.) are needed each day to keep the economy humming along – and in that respect, the Great Lakes-St.Lawrence region will remain a vital and important trade corridor for both countries for a long time.

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China

COVID-19 Crash: How China’s Economy May Offer a Glimpse of the Future

China has seen a severe economic impact from COVID-19, and it may be a preview of what’s to come for countries in the early stages of the outbreak.

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COVID-19 economic impact

The Economic Impact of COVID-19

China, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, appears to be turning a corner. As the number of reported local transmission cases hovers near zero, daily life is slowly returning to normal. However, economic data from the first two months of the year shows the damage done to the country’s finances.

Today’s visualization outlines the sharp losses China’s economy has experienced, and how this may foreshadow what’s to come for countries currently in the early stages of the outbreak.

A Historic Slump

The results are in: China’s business activity slowed considerably as COVID-19 spread.

Economic IndicatorYear-over-year Change (Jan-Feb 2020)
Investment in Fixed Assets*-24.5%
Retail Sales-20.5%
Value of Exports-15.9%
Industrial Production-13.5%
Services Production-13.0%

*Excluding rural household investment

As factories and shops reopen, China seems to be over the initial supply side shock caused by the lockdown. However, the country now faces a double-headed demand shock:

  • Domestic demand is slow to gain traction due to psychological scars, bankruptcies, and job losses. In a survey conducted by a Beijing financial firm, almost 65% of respondents plan to “restrain” their spending habits after the virus.
  • Overseas demand is suffering as more countries face outbreaks. Many stores are closing up shop and/or cancelling orders, leading to an oversupply of goods.

With a fast recovery seeming highly unlikely, many economists expect China’s GDP to shrink in the first quarter of 2020—the country’s first decline since 1976.

Danger on the Horizon

Are other countries destined to follow the same path? Based on preliminary economic data, it would appear so.

The U.S.
About half the U.S. population is on stay-at-home orders, severely restricting economic activity and forcing widespread layoffs. In the week ending March 21, total unemployment insurance claims rose to almost 3.3 million—their highest level in recorded history. For context, weekly claims reached a high of 665,000 during the global financial crisis.

“…The economy has just fallen over the cliff and is turning down into a recession.”

Chris Rupkey, Chief Economist at MUFG in New York

In addition, manufacturing activity in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware dropped to its lowest level since July 2012.

Globally
Other countries are also feeling the economic impact of COVID-19. For example, global online bookings for seated diners have declined by 100% year-over-year. In Canada, nearly one million people have applied for unemployment benefits.

Hard-hit countries such as Italy and Spain, which already suffer from high unemployment, are also expecting to see economic blows. However, it’s too soon to gauge the extent of the damage.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Given the near-shutdown of many economies, the IMF is forecasting a global recession in 2020. Separately, the UN estimates COVID-19 could cause up to a $2 trillion shortfall in global income.

On the bright side, some analysts are forecasting a recovery as early as the third quarter of 2020. A variety of factors, such as government stimulus, consumer confidence, and the number of COVID-19 cases, will play into this timeline.

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COVID-19

The Hardest Hit Companies of the COVID-19 Downturn: The ‘BEACH’ Stocks

As investor confidence across the travel industry slumps amid COVID-19, market capitalizations across ‘BEACH’ stocks shrink to unprecedented levels.

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beach stocks market cap decline

BEACH Stocks: $332B in Value Washed Away

The market’s latest storm has plunged the global travel industry into uncharted territory.

Since the S&P 500 market high on February 19, 2020, market capitalizations across BEACH industries—booking, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—have tumbled. The global airline industry alone has seen $157B wiped off valuations across 116 publicly traded airlines.

Investor confidence in cruise lines has also dropped. Between Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, over half of their market value has evaporated—equal to at least $42B in combined market capitalization.

Today’s infographic profiles the steep losses across BEACH companies. It looks at the ripple effects across individual companies and industries from the February 19 peak to date*.

*All numbers as of market close on March 24, 2020

Falling Off A Cliff

As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to over 100 countries, many governments have implemented sweeping travel restrictions.

The impact across BEACH industries is far-reaching, with some valuations declining to nearly a quarter of their previous total.

CompanyTickerCategoryMarket Cap: 02/19/2020Market Cap: 03/24/2020% Change
Booking Holdings
BKNGBooking$80.8B$51B-37%
Expedia GroupEXPEBooking$17.1B$8.1B-53%
Allegiant TravelALGTBooking$2.7B$1.4B-47%
Live Nation LYVEntertainment & Live Events$16.3B$9.1B-44%
Six FlagsSIXEntertainment & Live Events$3.2B$1.1B-66%
Cedar FairFUNEntertainment & Live Events$3.1B$1.3B-58%
The Walt Disney CoDISEntertainment & Live Events$255.1B$177B-31%
Penn National GamingPENNEntertainment & Live Events$4.3B$1.6B-63%
Delta Air LinesDALAirlines$37.5B$17.8B-52%
United Airlines UALAirlines$19.7B$8.4B-57%
American Airlines AALAirlines$12.1B$6.1B-50%
Southwest AirlinesLUVAirlines$29.5B$19.7B-33%
Alaska Air GroupALKAirlines$8B$3.7B-54%
Air Canada (in USD)ACAirlines$8.3B$2.8B-67%
CarnivalCCLCruise & Casino$30.8B$10B-67%
Royal Caribbean CruisesRCLCruise & Casino$23.2B$7.5B-68%
Norwegian Cruise LinesNCLHCruise & Casino$11.1B$3.1B-72%
Las Vegas SandsLVSCruise & Casino$52.8B$35.1B-34%
MGM Resorts InternationalMGMCruise & Casino$16.2B$6.2B-68%
Wynn ResortsWYNNCruise & Casino$14.6B$7.2B-51%
Caesars EntertainmentCZRCruise & Casino$10B$4.2B-58%
Eldorado ResortsERICruise & Casino$5.4B$1.3B-76%
Marriott InternationalMARHotels & Resorts$48.3B$25.7B-48%
HiltonHLTHotels & Resorts$31.3B$19.4B-38%
Hyatt HotelsHHotels & Resorts$9.1B$4.9B-46%
Choice Hotels InternationalCHHHotels & Resorts$6B$3.2B-46%
Wyndham Hotels & ResortsWHHotels & Resorts$5.6B$2.9B-48%
Park HotelsPKHotels & Resorts$5.5B$1.9B-66%
Vail ResortsMTNHotels & Resorts$9.98B$5.8B-41%
Marriott Vacations WorldwideVACHotels & Resorts$5.3B$2.2B-59%

For instance, the consequences on various travel bookings brands have been severe. Booking Holdings, the parent company to Booking.com, Priceline, Kayak and OpenTable, witnessed share price declines of over 35% since the peak.

Empty Stadiums

Across the entertainment industry, ticket sales for concerts, movies, and other events are falling precipitously due to cancellations or postponements.

Upwards of $5B in global film industry losses could result from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chilling footage of the Las Vegas strip, as well as other tourist epicenters around the world, shows deserted streets as visitors opt to stay home instead.

Bracing For Impact

Meanwhile, worldwide airline revenue is estimated to fall by as much as $113B in 2020.

In under two months, the share price of Delta Airlines has fallen over 50% as the company anticipates a capacity reduction of 40%, the largest in its history.

CompanyTickerFeb 19 2020 Share PriceMar 24 2020 Share Price
Delta Air LinesNYSE:DAL$58.5$26.9
United Airlines NASDAQ:UAL$79.4$33
American Airlines NASDAQ:AAL$28.3$13.9
Southwest AirlinesNYSE:LUV$56.89$37.7
Alaska Air GroupNYSE:ALK$65.2$28.9
Air Canada (in CAD)TSX:AC$45.3$15.1

The global airline industry—which employs over 10M people—supports $2.7T in global economic activity across an average of 12M passengers per day.

Aruba, Jamaica No More

As for the cruise line industry, global operations came to a 30-day standstill in mid-March. Over 800 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths across three cruise ships have been discovered.

“COVID-19 on cruise ships poses a risk for rapid spread of disease, causing outbreaks in a vulnerable population, and aggressive efforts are required to contain spread.”

CDC

Carnival, a Miami-based company, has witnessed its share price fall to around one third of its February 19 value. Similarly, Royal Caribbean Cruises, which has seen its market cap plummet almost 70%, announced that it will suspend trips until mid-May.

Occupancy Dilemma

As the hotel industry is impacted by the global outbreak, share prices have also realized a significant slump. In the U.S., an estimated $1.4B in revenue is vanishing each week. If occupancy levels fall by just 30% this year, the U.S. hotel industry could see approximately 4 million jobs wiped out.

The Baird/STR Hotel Stock Index, which serves as a benchmark for the sector’s overall health, has declined over 47% year-to-date.

baird hotel stock index

Global Stimulus Response

A number of travel industries around the world are calling for stimulus packages.

On March 25, the U.S. Congress finalized a historic $2T deal, which includes $25B in grants for the airline industry. In the UK, officials are providing small businesses in hospitality and leisure grants that are worth up to $30,000 as part of its $400B bailout plan.

China, Germany, Italy, and Spain have outlined multibillion dollar proposals in response to COVID-19. Overall, at least eleven countries have announced stimulus plans along with the European Commission and the IMF.

When Will the Travel Wave Hit Again?

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic one thing is clear: the impact on the travel industry will have a marked effect on the broader economy.

Travel is closely linked with oil, as transportation accounts for over 60% of global demand. In Q2 2020, global oil consumption is projected to fall by 25M barrels per day.

Along with this, discretionary consumer spending makes up over one third of America’s GDP. The impact of the pandemic across this sector is expected to contribute to a 10% decline or more in U.S. GDP for the second quarter.

As conditions materially improve around the world—with China beginning to open up flights—positive signs are emerging from under the surface. Will BEACH industries quickly bounce back as infection rates drop, or will a slow and painful recovery unfold in the months ahead?

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