Consistent with this morning’s GDP report, rail traffic continues to post gains. The U.S. economy is holding up despite persistent fears of a renewed downturn. The growth isn’t anything to write home about, but the muddle through scenario certainly appears alive and well. This week’s rail data was somewhat mixed with total carloads showing a decline while intermodal jumped 4.2% YoY. I still think it all adds up to an economy that is growing modestly while the government runs large budget deficits and the private sector’s debt position continues to heal. It’s not a great environment, but it’s also misguided to get bogged down in the debate over a new recession. This is and has been one long recession. The AAR has the details on this week’s rail data:
“The Association of American Railroads (NYSE:AAR) today reported mixed results for weekly rail traffic, with U.S. railroads originating 301,864 carloads for the week ending Oct. 22, 2011, down 0.5 percent compared with the same week last year. Intermodal volume for the week totaled 245,404 trailers and containers, up 4.2 percent compared with the same week last year.
Ten of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2010, including: nonmetallic minerals, up 22.4 percent; iron and steel scrap, up 20.9 percent, and metals and products, up 19.2 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included: grain, down 25.6 percent, and coke, down 11.5 percent.
Weekly carload volume on Eastern railroads was up 0.1 percent compared with the same week last year. In the West, weekly carload volume was down 0.9 percent compared with the same week in 2010.
For the first 42 weeks of 2011, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 12,236,877 carloads, up 1.7 percent from the same point last year, and 9,613,018 trailers and containers, up 5.3 percent from last year.”