The latest rail data continues to conflict with the idea of a broad economic recovery. Something has got to give in the coming months. There is simply no way this data can continue to come in so weak in the midst of an economic recovery. My opinion is that this data is the reflection of the economy ex-stimulus. In other words, the true state of the economy. If the consumer cannot pick-up the torch and run with it after the stimulus wears off there is a very real chance that 2010 could be another difficult year for the economy and the market. The AAR reports:
WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 17, 2009 — The Association of American Railroads today reported that freight traffic on U.S. railroads was down during the Labor Day holiday week in comparison with the corresponding week last year. The comparison week from last year, however, did not include the Labor Day holiday.
For the week ended Sept. 12, 2009, U.S. railroads reported originating 263,349 cars, down 19.8 percent compared with the same week in 2008. Regionally, carloadings were down 18.4 percent in the West and 21.8 percent in the East.
Intermodal traffic of 175,813 trailers or containers on U.S. railroads was down 25.8 percent from the same week last year. Container volume fell 20.9 percent and trailer volume dropped 43.9 percent.
All 19 carload freight commodity groups were down from last year, with declines ranging from 1.5 percent for farm products not including grain to 52.3 percent for metallic ores.
For the first 36 weeks of 2009, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 9,549,297 carloads, down 18.4 percent from 2008; 6,731,116 trailers or containers, down 16.9 percent, and total volume of an estimated 1.02 trillion ton-miles, down 17.5 percent. Total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending September 12 was estimated at 28.2 billion ton-miles, off 19 percent from the same week last year.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.