American economy: The trucks and trains test; barely rolling along

Posted: February 1, 2016 in economy
Tags: , ,

MARKETS have moved from worrying about the Chinese economy to fretting about the biggest economy in the world. Brokers are now putting probability estimates on the chance of a recession in America this year. Royal Bank of Canada uses the jobless claims numbers to come up with a 15% probability; Bank of America comes up with 20%.This blog has returned from time to time to some old-fashioned measures; the goods that are being moved by truck and train. The American Trucking Association reports that December's volumes were 1.1% higher than the same month in 2014. This hardly suggests an economy at full throttle but nor does it point to outright recession. A bullish spin on the numbers would point out that average volumes in 2015 were up  2.5% on 2014; a bearish spin would argue that January 2015 was the peak level for the index and December was below that level (the numbers are seasonally adjusted).Those figures look pretty upbeat compared with the data out of the Association of American Railroads; its latest weekly numbers (to week ending January 23) show a 10.5% decline in shipments over a year ago. The decline in the oil price may have played a big part; fracking involves the transport of sand to the drillheads (in order to blast out the oild and gas) as well as the transport of the finished fuel. The figures may also be distorted by the weather; although there was …

via Economic Crisis


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