Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Waste Traffic Indicator?

by Bill McBride on 6/09/2010 05:50:00 PM

From Bloomberg: Waste on Freight Cars Gains Most Since ’94 Confirming Rebound (ht Brian)

If garbage is any indication, the U.S. economy is strengthening.

The number of freight cars carrying waste jumped 45 percent in April and May from the same period last year ... according to the Washington-based Association of American Railroads.
...
Shipments of waste and scrap have a higher correlation with economic growth than coal or copper, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
And here is the graph:

Rail Traffic Click on graph for larger image in new window.

From the Association of American Railroads: Rail Time Indicators: Waste and Scrap Materials traffic in May 2010 was "up 37.1% from May 2009 and down 20.4% from May 2008."

Waste traffic was down from the April level. The Bloomberg article suggests this confirms the "economy is strengthening" - I'd say this shows the recovery has been sluggish (still well below the May 2008 level) and the economy might have slowed in May (although one month doesn't make a trend).