The American Trucking Association’s ATA Management Conference & Exhibition this week continues to yield many benefits for those in attendance. Businesses in trucking, intermodal shipping, suppliers to the trucking and shipping industry and other interested participants are finding much to share between each other at the conference.
On Tuesday (Oct. 8) at the show, Stuart Varney of Fox News’ Varney & Company program moderated an interesting ATA conference panel discussion that focused on the economy, the outlook up to the presidential election, and its impact on the intermodal transportation industry. The panel consisted of Bob Costello (chief economist ATA), Gregory Daco (HIS Global Insight), and Lawrence Yun (National Association of Realators). The panelists shared a variety of viewpoints, with the general consensus from the group that the U.S. economy is still in slowdown mode, and will not be able to accelerate until more certainty is established in Washington and our country has a decision on presidential leadership.
The panel discussed the often-used phrase ‘the fiscal cliff” as well. Greg Daco said he anticipated that any real movement on the fiscal cliff would likely “get kicked down the road six months” after which point Congress will know what measures to put into place after the November elections. He said he feels that Congress will not allow America to go off this ‘cliff’. The panel also spent time talking about Europe and the fiscal crisis they face there as well. Daco suggested that the single biggest issue impacting our U.S. economy (aside from the fiscal cliff) is the health of foreign economies. He also remarked that Greece will ultimately drop out of the Euro in the second half of next year.
ATA’s Bob Costello made a very interesting comparison between the impact the price of diesel has had on our industry and how the price of equipment will have a similar impact over the next five to ten years.
“Equipment is becoming the new diesel in our industry,” Bob said, taking the stance that industry regulations are driving up the cost of equipment and smaller fleets are turning to leasing instead of buying. He said that it’s imperative that truck fleets continually improve the quality of their equipment to attract more drivers to their company. Unfortunately, many small carriers will have a difficult time obtaining proper financing for purchasing better trucks, unless current borrowing conditions improve. They will also likely find it more difficult to compete for a limited driver pool in the future.
One last impression from the panel was a spectator asked Fox’s Stuart Varney for his prediction of the upcoming presidential election. Not surprisingly, Varney said that he thought Romney would win the presidential election by five points.
Calhoun Truck Lines is one of the thousands of trucking and transportation industry executives attending the ATA conference this week. We’re learning much from the panels about trucking-related issues, intermodal shipping and the U.S. trucking industry.