December 12, 2012
A vast majority of carriers are not happy with the outcome of the presidential election, according to Transport Capital Partners Fourth Quarter 2012 Business Expectations Survey.In the survey, 93% of the carrier executives surveyed indicated they were not happy with the presidential election outcome. Interestingly, 9% of smaller carriers, who are primarily sole proprietors or LLCs and the poster child for the Republican party, were happy with the presidential outcome, compared to only 1% of the larger carriers. The carriers response was a surprise in terms of the magnitude of dissatisfaction, but was reflective of TCP's conversations in the last month with both carriers and suppliers. There is a general pause evident throughout the industry, says Richard Mikes, TCP partner.The uncertainty about the election that was keeping many fleets on the bench as far as buying plans has now been extended with the uncertainty about the "fiscal cliff," the mandatory spending cuts and expiration of tax cuts that will take effect Jan. 1 unless a deeply divided Congress can head it off.Trucking is a demand-driven industry. Carrier executives know that if consumers and business are uncertain about the economy, in general, and their own personal finances, in particular, they will not be buying goods, explains Steven Dutro, a partner with TCP. Its not surprising that carriers are unwilling to risk their own capital if their customers are also sitting on theirs. So it wasn't surprising that 52% of surveyed carriers indicated they are not making plans until they find out how the fiscal cliff will be handled. Larger carriers were more inclined to not have the election results affect their plans than smaller carriers (30% vs. 23%).Most carriers are in a parked mode and decisions are either deferred or changing until the cliff is addressed, Mikes says.In addition, both Mikes and Dutro note that the lack of tax decisions is impacting merger and acquisition activity as the year closes, and many deals are being pressured as buyers and sellers are uncertain about what 2013 holds for them.