U-Turn in Trucking: Cass Truck Shipment Index Down 4th Consecutive Month

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The Cass Freight Index, a measure of truck shipments is down for the fourth consecutive month year-over-year.

Please consider the Cass Freight Index Report for March 2019.

The Cass Freight Index was one of the first freight flow indicators to turn positive (in October 2016) and confirm our prediction of a recovery in the U.S. economy. Beyond our concern that the Cass Freight Shipments Index has been negative on a YoY basis for the fourth month in a row. Bottom line, the data in coming weeks will indicate whether this is merely a pause in the rate of economic expansion or the beginning of an economic contraction.

  • We are concerned about the severe declines in international airfreight volumes (especially in Asia) and the recent swoon in railroad volumes in auto and building materials
  • We are reassured by the sequential increase in the Cass Freight Shipments Index (up 2.0%) and the volumes in U.S. domestic trucking (especially in truckload dry van)
  • We are closely watching the volumes of chemicals and other shipments via railroad, as they have lost momentum in recent weeks and may give us the first evidence of the global slowdown spreading to the U.S.

Shipments vs GDP

U-turn in Trucking

J.B. Hunt, the largest US trucking company had this to say: “Volume, or lack thereof, is obviously the main story.” The inventory pile-up hurts. And the driver shortage is ending."

Wolf Richter provides excellent commentary.

Orders, Miles Sink

Reuters reports Truck Drivers See Orders, Miles Fall in Latest U.S. Slowdown Signal.

“There’s no doubt that we have been seeing a deceleration in volumes,” said Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations (ATA). “This is an indication that the economy is decelerating.”

Life Support

The global economy is on life support. We have simultaneous slowdowns in the US, China, and the EU.

Trump's tax cuts were a year too early to help his election chances, but he might win anyway.

A trade deal with China will not affect this picture.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (19)
No. 1-4
ElPendejoGrande
ElPendejoGrande

Tax cuts? I just paid $3500 more this year on the same income and deductions. The "trump tax cut" is another massive scam.

Realist
Realist

Yep. The US economy is slowing slightly. 1-2% growth is the most likely scenario for the next several years. No recession, barring some black swan event.

thimk
thimk

trade war with china front loaded purchases before potential escalation . trade balance with china down this last reporting period per Reuters. fox news sycophants reporting that "tariff man's" policies working.

bradw2k
bradw2k

Investor sentiment is not going to muddle through a slowing economy, somehow I don't think that's how markets full of speculators work. And when these asset bidding wars reverse, the secondary effects will be huge and reinforcing. It will not take a "black swan event" to reverse investor sentiment, just the realization that it's 2am and yesterday's (the decade's) bidding party is over. If I was a gambler I'd bet equities are finishing a triple-top formation this Spring/Summer and we are about to party like it's 1999.