Every month for at least the past half year, there is a spate of bearish economic commentary that relies upon one or both of two metrics: AAR rail carloads and/or the Cass Freight Index.
I have a post up at Seeking Alpha showing why the first measure is not a representative slice of transport as a whole, and the second has a history of being very volatile and with a slew of negative readings in the teeth of continuing expansions.
Addendum: After I put together and posted the article, I came up with the idea of averaging the Cass Freight Index and the Dept. of Transportation’s Freight Index after adjusting for the former’s volatility (shown below). It gives us an even less noisy overview of the transportation sector, although it still does go negative during slowdowns without there being a recession. In any event, none of the current negative readings are sufficiently below zero to accord with recessionary readings over the indexes’ short history:
Editor’s Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.