12 Charts take you back in time and around the world.
Each with a unique story to tell, derived from our satellite activity datasets.
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2022 was a very active year, with several events seen across the globe from space. We’ve covered a lot, from supply chain interruptions, inflation, and energy crises to Chinese lockdowns. Let’s look back on what we saw last year.
Utilizing our China Nowcasting Package, which comprises more than fifty distinct activity indices covering several industries and frequently incorporating province-specific data, we prepared three newsletters specifically focused on China.
SpaceKnow’s airport, port, and logistic center-specific indices began tracking the effect of new lockdowns in April. Spaceknow came to the conclusion after looking at the indices that the impact of these lockdowns was less severe than the impact of the initial lockdowns in 2020.
Following the announcement that China’s central bank had lowered the one-year and seven-day loan rates by 10 basis points, we revisited our Chinese indices in October. The near-real-time fall throughout the year was seen using SpaceKnow’s construction, retail, steel refinery, and logistics center-related indices, validating the central bank’s policies.
We continue to monitor these indices for signs of recovery and potential negative spill-over into the manufacturing industries. There may be a good reason to be wary of Chinese auto production this coming year as SpaceKnow’s China Auto Parts index has shown a steady decline over the last two months…
The last piece we wrote on China in 2022 was related to the renewed lockdowns at the end of the year broken down per province. Using our China logistics centers and assembled car index on the province level, we saw an immediate impact on consumer spending, and expected it to bounce back shortly, once the lockdowns were lifted, as they did.
We monitor economic activity globally, not just in China. We wrote newsletters covering activities observed at US supply chain champions: Amazon, Walmart, and FedEx. All are part of SpaceKnow’s premium US Supply Chain package.
In August, by monitoring and aggregating the activity from every logistic center used by Walmart, clients with access to the Walmart dataset would have been the first to see disruptions in the company’s activity. We also showed that the index correlates well with Walmart’s costs of goods sold.
In September, when FedEx’s stock price dropped significantly following its missed forecast. Much like Walmart, we monitor all of the relevant locations. As a result, we can’t say we’re surprised, just look at the graph below. It shows fewer FedEx locations showing high activity, and a strong increase in FedEx locations showing low activity, the perfect recipe for disaster. Safe to say SpaceKnow’s indices can help to anticipate and analyze similar situations while not relying on a company’s reporting.
In November, back when we were all thinking of Black Friday deals, we took a look at the Amazon dataset. Amazon has a strong and ever-growing presence in the US, which makes it an important indicator of retail sales. The impact of rising inflation paired with higher energy prices was reflected in Amazon’s activity index, showing weak consumer spending.
In December, we joined the discussion on this year’s “record” Black Friday using our family of Continous Feed Indices (CFI) indices for 4000+ logistics centers in the US. Black Friday 2022 wasn’t only a result of increasing prices but a genuine increase in retail volume activity.
We also used the indices to document changes in the US logistics sector – it adapted to the COVID experience by building more logistics centers and shifting towards a more gradual way of dealing with seasonal inventory.
Lastly, on the topic of supply chains and logistics in the US, we had to have our say on inflation. SpaceKnow’s port and inland container activity indices as well as the logistics indices can provide insights on the matter. Looking at these indices we saw significant signs of easing in our logistics data, but we cannot yet call for a significant persistent slowdown. Therefore, while it is one factor potentially pointing to an easing in inflation, other factors are pushing inflation higher.
2022 also brought us newly released indices focusing on economic activity in Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain, and France.
In April, SpaceKnow released data showing a stumbling German economy, weeks before official data confirmed the fact. SpaceKnow monitors over 1000 locations in Germany on a near-real-time basis. When a sudden shock hits the economy, our activity data gives you an early look at the impact. We saw the German manufacturing index get hit hard by a combination of increasing prices for raw materials and energy, supply chain pressures, and expectations of future shortages.
In September, we saw the disappearance of public Russian cement production data. Luckily, SpaceKnow’s Russian Cement Refinery and Storage indices were there to fill the information gap. SpaceKnow Cement Refinery Index showed that cement production had been increasing since February 2022 because of the government’s act on imports. On the other hand, the Cement Storage Index had been declining since the beginning of 2022, suggesting that inventories of cement were depleting. Recent Russian data claimed the economy was performing better than expected, however, the market is suspicious about the reliability of current data released by the government statistical agency. If only there was a reliable source of unbiased activity data…
Also in September, as Germany began energy rationing, SpaceKnow’s German Coal Mine Index, which captures the activity in the mines where the coal is extracted, sharply increased. Similar developments were seen in the Steel Manufacturing and Aluminum refinery indices.
In November, energy prices fell and it seemed like Europe’s energy crisis was over. Despite this, SpaceKnow’s Italian Manufacturing index remained weak, but we did see a small rebound in German construction activity. The index is most likely capturing the positive effect of the recent gas price decline – which fell below 100 EUR per megawatt-hour after reaching record highs at the end of August, due to warmer-than-expected temperatures.
Looking forward, SpaceKnow’s product line of activity indices, also known as nowcasting datasets, will continue to expand and cover further economic activity as seen from space.
We’ve loved the support we’ve received from our newsletters and blogs and are excited to continue sharing insights from our satellite activity datasets. Don’t hesitate to share widely and subscribe.
Thank you for reading.
The SpaceKnow Team.
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