Visualized: Congestion at America's Busiest Port
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Visualizing Congestion at America’s Busiest Port

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Busiest Port

The Briefing

  • There are an estimated 540,000 shipping containers waiting in queue at the Port of Los Angeles
  • The port has been unable to keep up with increased shipments from overseas suppliers

The Busiest Port in America: Los Angeles

U.S. e-commerce grew by 32.4% in 2020—the highest annual growth rate in over two decades. Such rapid growth has resulted in many more goods being imported, leaving America’s western ports completely overwhelmed.

To help you understand the scale of this issue, we’ve visualized the number of containers waiting at sea in relation to the Port of Los Angeles’ daily processing capacity.

Stuck at Sea

As of November 2, 2021, the Port of Los Angeles reported that it had 93 vessels waiting in queue. Altogether, these ships have a maximum carrying capacity of roughly 540,000 containers (commonly measured in twenty-foot equivalent units or TEUs).

On the other side of the equation, the port processed 468,059 import containers in September (the most recent data at the time of writing). Because the port does not operate on Sundays, we can conclude that the port can load roughly 18,000 containers each day.

That capacity seems unlikely to reduce the congestion. Over a two-week timeframe in September, 407,695 containers arrived at the Port of Los Angeles, which averages to around 29,000 containers arriving each day.

FigureApproximate Number of Containers
Current backlog540,000
Daily import arrivals29,000
Daily import capacity18,000
Daily increase in backlog11,000

What’s Being Done?

Solutions are needed to prevent the backlog from causing massive economic harm. In fact, analysts believe that up to $90 billion in trade could be delayed this holiday season.

In October, the Biden administration announced a deal to expand operations at the Port of Los Angeles, enabling it to run 24/7. The port also announced it will begin charging carriers for every container that sits idle over a grace period. While only temporary, this plan has drawn criticism for its unclear objective.

“The fee is on the ocean carrier, but the control over when the cargo is to be picked up sits with the cargo recipient. Having the ocean carrier pay more does nothing to encourage the cargo interest to pick up the cargo.” – World Shipping Council

Regardless of the outcome, more permanent solutions will be required as online shopping continues to gain popularity.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Marine Exchange of Southern California, Port of Los Angeles, Freight Waves
Data Note: These figures are based on approximations and should not be interpreted as exact.
10/11/21 Update: This infographic was updated to include the number of import containers loaded by the neighboring Port of Long Beach.

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How People Around the World Feel About Their Economic Prospects

In many of the world’s largest economies, including the U.S., Germany, and China, optimism around economic prospects sits at an all-time low.

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economic prospects of people around the world

The Briefing

  • Economic prospects are at an all-time low in nine countries, including the U.S., Canada, Germany, Japan, and China
  • China and the U.S. experienced the biggest year-over-year drops, at -8 p.p. and -6 p.p., respectively

How Countries Feel About Their Economic Prospects

Each year, the Edelman Trust Barometer report helps gauge the level of trust people place in various systems of power.

The report is also a useful tool to gauge the general mood in countries around the world—and when it comes to how people in developed economies feel about the near future, there’s a very clear answer: pessimistic. In fact, optimism about respondents’ economic prospects fell in the majority of countries surveyed.

Here’s a full look how many respondents in 28 countries feel they and their families will be doing better over the next five years. Or, put more simply, what percentage of people are optimistic about their economic circumstances?

Country% who are optimisticAll-time low?Change from 2021 (p.p.)
🇯🇵 Japan15%-1
🇫🇷 France18%-1
🇩🇪 Germany22%-2
🇮🇹 Italy27%0
🇳🇱 Netherlands29%-1
🇬🇧 UK30%+2
🇷🇺 Russia31%+1
🇨🇦 Canada34%-1
🇪🇸 Spain36%+1
🇰🇷 South Korea39%+6
🇺🇸 U.S.40%-6
🇦🇺 Australia41%-2
🇮🇪 Ireland42%-1
🇸🇬 Singapore43%-1
🌐 Global51%0
🇲🇾 Malaysia55%0
🇦🇷 Argentina60%-2
🇹🇭 Thailand60%-2
🇨🇳 China64%-8
🇿🇦 South Africa66%-2
🇲🇽 Mexico68%-1
🇧🇷 Brazil73%0
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia73%0
🇦🇪 UAE78%+6
🇮🇳 India80%0
🇮🇩 Indonesia81%+11
🇨🇴 Colombia83%-1
🇳🇬 Nigeria87%n/a
🇰🇪 Kenya91%-2

Interestingly, nine countries (those with checkmarks above) are polling at all-time lows for economic optimism in survey history.

Whose Glass is Half Empty?

Japanese respondents were the most pessimistic, with only 15% seeing positive economic prospects in the near term. Only 18% of French respondents were economically optimistic.

While most developed economies were slightly more optimistic than Japan and France, all are still well below the global average.

As tensions between China and the U.S. continue to heat up in 2022, there is one thing that can unite citizens in the two countries—a general feeling that economic prospects are souring. As the U.S. heads into midterm elections and China’s 20th National Party Congress takes place, leaders in both countries will surely have the economy on their minds.

Whose Glass is Half Full?

Of course, the mood isn’t all doom and gloom everywhere. The United Arab Emirates saw a 6 percentage point (p.p.) jump in their population’s economic prospects.

Indonesia saw an 11 p.p. increase, and in big developing economies like Brazil and India, the general level of optimism is still quite high.

In some ways, it’s no surprise that people in developing economies are more optimistic about their economic prospects. Living standards are generally rising in many of these countries, and more opportunities open up as the economy grows. Even in the most pessimistic African country surveyed, South Africa, the majority of people still see improving circumstances in their near future. In Kenya and Nigeria, an overwhelming majority are optimistic.

Diverging Outcomes

One major prediction that experts agreed on for the year ahead is that economic outcomes will begin to diverge between countries with differing levels of vaccine access.

While this doesn’t seem to have affected attitudes towards economic optimism yet, it remains to be seen how this will play out as the year progresses.

Where does this data come from?

Source: 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer

Data notes: This data is derived from Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer survey, which includes 30,000+ respondents in countries around the world.

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The Accelerating Frequency of Extreme Weather

Extreme weather events, like droughts and heatwaves, have become more common over the years. But things are expected to get worse.

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Extreme Weather Events

The Briefing

  • We’re already seeing the impact of climate change—today, droughts, heatwaves, and extreme rainstorms are 2x more frequent than they were a century ago
  • In less than a decade, Earth’s climate is expected to warm another 0.5°C
  • If this happens, heatwaves will be 4.1x more frequent than they were in the 1850-1900s

The Accelerating Frequency of Extreme Weather

The world is already witnessing the effects of climate change.

A few months ago, the western U.S. experienced one of the worst droughts it’s seen in the last 20 years. At the same time, southern Europe roasted in an extreme heatwave, with temperatures reaching 45°C in some parts.

But things are only expected to get worse in the near future. Here’s a look at how much extreme climate events have changed over the last 200 years, and what’s to come if global temperatures keep rising.

A Century of Warming

The global surface temperature has increased by about 1°C since the 1850s. And according to the IPCC, this warming has been indisputably caused by human influence.

As the global temperatures have risen, the frequency of extreme weather events have increased along with it. Heatwaves, droughts and extreme rainstorms used to happen once in a decade on average, but now:

  • Heatwaves are 2.8x more frequent
  • Droughts are 1.7x more frequent
  • Extreme rainstorms are 1.3x more frequent

By 2030, the global surface temperature is expected to rise 1.5°C above the Earth’s baseline temperature, which means that:

  • Heatwaves would be 4.1x more frequent
  • Droughts would be 2x more frequent
  • Extreme rainstorms would be 1.5x more frequent

The Ripple Effects of Extreme Weather

Extreme weather events have far-reaching impacts on communities, especially when they cause critical system failures.

Mass infrastructure breakdowns during Hurricane Ida this year caused widespread power outages in the state of Louisiana that lasted for several days. In 2020, wildfires in Syria devastated hundreds of villages and injured dozens of civilians with skin burns and breathing complications.

As extreme weather events continue to increase in frequency, and communities become increasingly more at risk, sound infrastructure is becoming more important than ever.

Where does this data come from?

Source: IPCC
Details: The data used in this graphic is from the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, which provides a high-level summary of the state of the climate, how it’s changing, and the role of human influence.

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