Sometimes even hyperbole struggles to overstate the importance of China to things like manufacturing and the entire global economy. In an oddly counter-intuitive way, though, this also makes it easier to take all the activities that are a part of China’s economy for granted – and to forget it’s an ancient and culturally rich nation, not just a seemingly relentless production machine. Once a year, however, China reminds us that it plays both of these roles when it celebrates New Year.
For me, one of the starkest demonstrations of this, in a logistics sense at least, can be found on the Ti Dashboard. Managing the Dashboard is one of the things I do here at Ti, and China features across a range of sea and airfreight, trade, vertical sector and macroeconomic charts as a major economy, an emerging market, a production and manufacturing location, and as a logistics market in its own right.
Take, for example, the Ti Global Shipping Index. We measure monthly throughput volumes at ports in the Americas, Europe and Asia, then weight that data to produce an index of overall volume.
Chinese New Year has a major influence on this index, producing the significant dip seen every February. This is followed by a quick rebound in March, and goes some way to showing how important goods shipped to, from and around China, and Asia in general, are to global sea freight volumes and the global economy more generally. It also serves as an indication of the effect Chinese New Year has in other sectors of the economy – with an estimated 3.6 billion train journeys to be made by the Chinese population over the holiday period as people leave work to travel to celebrations across the country, one can only imagine the pattern of February dips will be repeated across manufacturing, production and retail, amongst others, as entire industries scale back activity.
This story is borne out elsewhere on the Dashboard, too, with the effect of Chinese New Year covered across a range of charts tracking global airfreight volumes, retail sales, trade volumes and macroeconomic trends. You can find out more about the Dashboard here, and you can check out how the interactive Dashboard charts work by following this link.