Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Weekly US Railroad Carloading Decline Accelerates, Hits 1993 Levels

The latest data out of the Association of American Railroads has been released. While a month ago the weekly YoY decline hit a very troublesome -17.1%, the last weekly decline added another almost 3% to the deterioration, and is now down -19.8% for Week 36. Cumulative traffic decline is flat at -18.4%. Including intermodal traffic or ton-miles in the calculation does nothing to improve the conclusion. Not a single "carload originated" category has improved, and in fact even the relatively stable ones from the prior update have slumped.

"The data are not seasonally adjusted so when you actually take a look at the levels, they are all the way down to where they were in 1993." Yet recent data undoubtedly had the benefit of the Cash for Clunkers subsidy, which is now dead and buried. Upcoming freight data will be even worse.

So now we know that not only is international trade at cataclysmic levels (which is why none of our "trading partners" care much about what depths the dollar may plumb any time soon), but also that internal freight is at nearly three decade lows. And one is supposed to build a recovery on this? Where is Warren Buffett to discuss his one favorite forward looking metric? Apparently not even he cares about traditional valuation metrics, when he has some conflicts of interest regarding the financial system which is running not so much on a healthy economy but merely on governmental payments going directly into reserve accounts and bonus checks.

H/T ZeroHedge