Conflicting Trade Signals Show Global Economy’s Static and Stamina



Brendan Murray | Bloomberg

Almost a year after the Covid-19 pandemic officially began, the global economy is still throwing off conflicting signals about the pace and direction of trade flows.

The World Trade Organization’s latest goods trade barometer highlights the mixed messages:

  • Export orders and automotive products — which the WTO calls some of the most reliable leading indicators — peaked recently and show signs of decelerating
  • Ocean and air freight measures are both rising, suggesting faster-than-average growth, although recent high-frequency data show that container shipping dipped in the start of 2021
  • Electronic components and raw materials are rising, possibly because of inventory stockpiling
  • Farm commodities remain on the upswing

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