October 8, 2013: Shutdown slows down trade

Posted by mmcmullan on 10/08/2013

Good morning,

And a happy Tuesday to you all! We’re still operating with a partially closed government, but that’s old news by dysfunctional DC standards: Official Washington has already turned its attention to the looming showdown over the impending debt ceiling breach. If Congress doesn’t raise it by October 17, the American economy could be in for some serious convulsions.

But while the D’s and R’s stare blankly at each other over the poker table, the working economy has been feeling the pinch. With dozens of government agencies involved in trade shipments -- and many of those agency employees furloughed by the ongoing shutdown -- American exports are piling up on the docks, report Betsy Morris, Don Clark, and Mike Esterl for the Wall Street Journal:

It is unclear how widespread the problems are or how many industries are affected. But trade is an increasingly important engine of the $15 trillion-plus U.S. economy. U.S. exports last year rose 4.4% to $2.196 trillion and imports grew 2.7% to $2.736 trillion. The Commerce Department says nearly ten million American jobs are supported by exports.

Americans whose livelihoods are affected by this self-inflicted wound -- courtesy of Congress -- aren’t happy. Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal spoke to Lisa Goldenberg, president of Delaware Steel Company, whose orders have been slackened by the now-slow-as-molasses government oversight system. Delaware Steel’s employees, she says, are justifiably miffed:

They're angry … They don't know how to affect change in their day-to-day lives. It's like being held hostage to be perfectly honest. That's how it feels to me and that's what my employees are saying. It's a hostage crisis, it's not a government shutdown.

Elsewhere around the web:

Another day of the government shutdown, another absent economic report. The monthly trade data from the U.S. Commerce Department won’t be coming, writes Matthew Boesler for Business Insider. But based on regular economic data released by the private sector, economists estimate the trade deficit increased to $39.5 billion from July's $39.1 billion total.

Because of the ongoing political gridlock in Washington, President Obama is skipping out on a planned appearance at a diplomatic summit in Indonesia, where details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal are expected to be hashed out on the sidelines. Despite the president’s absence, report Randy Fabi and Lesley Wroughton for Reuters, the administration is still sticking to its plans for a signed agreement by year’s end.

Bully for the administration. Alas, the White House would do well to remember that while there’s not much that Congress agrees on these days, signing a TPP agreement without addressing Japan’s persnickety practice of currency manipulation would garner bipartisan disapproval.

October 7, 1913. That’s the date that workers at Ford’s Highland Park, Michigan plant first used a rope to pull the Model T down its assembly line. One hundred years later, Ford and its revolutionary assembly line have come a long way. Alisa Priddle of the Detroit Free Press says the company plans to significantly boost its production in the coming years:

The latest revolution is Ford’s goal to boost global production by one-third to eight million vehicles annually by 2017, primarily by requiring every assembly plant to make four different models.

Ford is getting ambitious! Read Priddle’s whole story here.

Last week, the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) filled the gap left by an absent Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report (nice going, government shutdown!) by providing our own. We asked our supporters across the nation to send in the jobs report as they saw it from their communities, and the results painted a picture of the American economy that a data dump can’t.

No jobs report? No problem. Help us tell the jobs story that Washington won’t. Email your jobs report from your town to info [at] aamfg [dot] org, tweet it to us at @keeptimadeinUSA, or contact us via Facebook. And read the report right here.

Have a good day, everyone!

-AAM

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