For those who follow macroeconomic trends carefully, few publications are more useful than the monthly Rail Time Indicators report published by the Association of American Railroads. We have discussed this report on a few occasions in recent months and noted that Warren Buffett is known to follow railroad trends carefully due to the “derived demand” nature of rail traffic. Berkshire Hathaway’s pending acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe was characterized by Mr. Buffett as a major bet on the United States economy.
The January 2010 issue of Rail Time Indicators was published today and a video summary of the report appears below. As the report notes, 2009 was a year that hopefully will not repeat in the future. For the full year, U.S. railroads originated the lowest number of carloads since before 1988 when the AAR data series began. Good Riddance indeed.