Insights & News

​Most of the Economy Still Moves on Ships, Planes, Trucks, and Trains

Posted On April 25, 2017

Many of the “What to Watch in Business in 2017” articles that came out at the end of 2016 said the number 1 story to watch in 2017 was the Snapchat IPO. That IPO, according to most of these stories, would be some sort of an indicator of the country’s overall economic health.

Snapchat has its place in the world, and we are sure people get some sort of value from using it. But the most important business or economic story of 2017? Snapchat lost half a billion dollars last year, and the company’s founder has said Snapchat may never be profitable.

As in, never, ever. They may always lose more of other people’s money than they make of their own—yet, inexplicably, the way the market values a company that may never make any money is supposed to be the most important business story of 2017?

No. The Snapchat IPO may be one of the most written about stories so far this year, but it is far from the most important. The way the media writes about Snapchat is nothing new. Breathlessly covering social media companies and unprofitable startups must make for more interesting stories than telling the actual and boring (to some people) truth, which is that most of the economic value created in the world still travels on ships, planes, trucks, and trains. Even portions of the economy considered part of the service sector—like restaurants—depend on actual physical goods. After all, that hamburger on your plate was once a cow that took a trip on a truck and (much to the cow’s surprise) came back as the beef that became your hamburger. Every year the United States imports and exports about $4,000,000,000,000 (that’s 4 trillion) worth of goods. Those goods travel via ship or plane out of and into American ports, where the average consumer good then travels another 1,000 miles to its ultimate destination. That data doesn’t include the goods produced and consumed completely within the United States, which also travel across the country on trucks, trains, and planes before arriving at their destination.

We get it. Companies like Snapchat are glamorous. They are cool. When you think of them, you envision attractive young people wearing bulky headphones and skinny jeans and drinking organic wheat grass juice (which for the record, does taste like eating grass). Cool people drinking liquefied grass while wearing skinny jeans and losing staggering amounts of money isn’t what moves the economy forward. What moves the economy forward are the types of companies and industries Flat World Holdings is proud to work with—companies that do unglamorous things, like one of our customers that sells recreational vehicles (RVs). The RV business might not be glamorous, but according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, that industry has a $50 billion annual impact on the United States.

Our customers are like that. We work with companies that make and move stuff. They may not be companies that get covered in Entrepreneur or Inc., but their ability to move actual, tangible goods and products across the country and across the world is what really keeps the economy running. That’s why we are so proud to work with them, and to do what we do. If you’re in the business of making and moving stuff and need to increase visibility and efficiency within your supply chain, move your freight across the world, obtain custom crates, or need transportation management and supply chain technology, we’re here for you.

We would love to work with you—and we mean it when we say you’re just as cool as those kids at Snapchat, and you don’t even have to drink liquid grass or wear skinny jeans to prove it to us.