The US freight rate is dropping. Another canary?
W&D delights in the phrase, 'canary in the coal mine'. It's all about an early warning sign of impending disaster. Readers will also no doubt be familiar with Gabriel Oak in Far From the Madding Crowd identifying all the warning signs before the devastating storm hits*.
In keeping with this forecasting technique, W&D alerts readers to the Cass Freight Index, which tracks US freight transactions regardless of the mode of transport. It does not cover bulk commodities.
It is therefore focused on the consumer packaged goods, food, automotive, chemical OEM, heavy equipment and retail sectors.
The index is not seasonally adjusted, as the chart shows (most shipments occur between May and September). The clues are in comparing a month to 'the previous corresponding period'. So in April, the Index fell by 4.9% from a year earlier. It was the worst April since 2010.
Of course, W&D doesn't want to get readers worried. Just being a local Gabriel Oak.
* Thomas Hardy's delightful novel is about Bathsheba Everdene, an independent and headstrong woman attracting three very different suitors: Frank Troy, the reckless soldier; William Boldwood, the mature, wealthy but distant landowner and Gabriel Oak, the sturdy, reliable but taciturn sheep farmer. W&D recommends the original movie version, with Julie Christie, Terrence Stamp, Alan Bates and Peter Finch. But last year's version, with Carey Mulligan, is a strong successor.