Economy Trade

“Trains have not yet bottomed”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The retail and manufacturing sectors are already in recession and, as a result of that, American's railroads have also entered recession as they carry many of goods that work their way to manufactures and later to store shelves or car lots.

Like the effect Trump's tariffs have had on retail and manufacturing, there's no mystery here. Shipments for everything subject to either Trump's tariffs or China's retaliatory tariffs are down.

Moreover, companies that imported more goods and stockpiled inventory to get ahead of each round of Trump's tariffs are now burning through that inventory and are no longer shipping anything.

From Bloomberg:

There’s no bottom in sight as the decline in carloads for large U.S. railroads widened to 5.5% in the third quarter, the biggest drop in three years, according to weekly reports from the Association of American Railroads. Shipments are down for autos, coal, grain, chemicals and consumer goods, with crude oil the only bright spot.

The rail downturn underscores the damage from the U.S.-China trade war, which is making shippers more cautious and crimping freight -- validating earlier warnings from railroad executives. Companies that stocked up on inventory last year amid President Donald Trump’s tariff threats are now working it off. Adding to the cargo drop, a brief rise in coal exports has fizzled and bad weather has delayed crop harvests and dragged down grain carloads.

What’s quite clear is that we’re not yet at a trough -- trains have not yet bottomed,” said Ben Hartford, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. “We need to have some clarity in trade policy.

If "clarity" in trade policy is what they need, they're going to be waiting a long time if not the full remainder of Trump's time in office.

Following the Trump regime's decision to add more Chinese companies to the Commerce Department's blacklist this week, I'd say clarify is even further out of reach than it's ever been. Each time there's even a hint that Trump might be ready to wind down his trade war, he does something new to escalate it. And he could do virtually anything tomorrow or any day after.

The only thing that is actually clear is that there will never be clarity under Trump because Trump himself is not clear about literally anything. Well, except his own greatness.

Executives who said President Obama created uncertainty should be begging Americans to elect a "socialist" to office again.

  • muselet

    We already have clarity in trade policy: Donald Trump is firmly opposed to free trade.

    It’s no more complicated than that.