“Off The Rails” – What Slumping Rail Traffic Tells Us About The U.S. Economy

The US Economy: Off the Rails?
As we indicated last January, the weekly rail traffic report published by the Association of American Railroads (‘AAR’) can provide a reasonable snapshot of US economic performance almost in real time by looking at diverse categories of transported goods and commodities. It can also highlight important changes in trends and areas of weakness, or red flags. So let’s see what these indicators are telling us midway through 2016.
We start with rail intermodal traffic, which registers the long-haul movement of shipping containers and truck trailers by rail whenever combined with (a much shorter) truck movement at one or both ends. This covers a broad range of goods that Americans consume regularly, from laptops to frozen chickens. Since consumption drives the US economy this should give us some clues on recent performance overall.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 2, 2016.