US Railroad Carload Traffic Down 19%

The Association of American Railroads released its latest traffic data, and both the weekly and cumulative traffic originations are down significantly, however this is likely another data point that would be cheered by the wildly optimistic Philadelphia Fed as yet another piece of information that can only go up from here. Total carloads originated was down -17.1% for the week ending August 15, while the cumulative decline was -18.9%. Also the number of ton-miles has declined by 18% from 1,094 billion to 898 billion. This is probably as good a proxy for the real collapse of the US manufacturing complex and implicitly why any inventory bounce, outside of direct government subsidies, will be very slow in coming (and likely delayed due to increasingly artifical capacity added by the central planners).

Not one single traffic category has rebounded even close to 2008 levels. The biggest declines continue to be metals and products, lumber and wood products (don't tell that to LPX's stock price though) and metallic ores: probably the key ingredients to any manufacturing rebound, let alone an inventory restocking. The entire raw material supply side is still trying to discover its latest normal as a function of the massive amounts of slack still in the economy, let alone start the long, arduous journey of ramping up. That will not stop the stat arb momos from finding the 13th derivative somewhere in this data, and lift any and all offers they see tomorrow in C and FRE ahead of the flashed traffic flow.

h/t Joe


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