The FedEx Indicator

The economy is supposedly improving, but even if we took the falling unemployment rate at face value, there are too many signs that something is wrong.  There are too many anomalies.  I noted a few weeks ago the anomaly of collapsing gasoline and diesel fuel consumption, which started well before the current run-up in pump prices that is causing Obama to contort himself in unnatural ways.  Falling fuel consumption ahead of a price spike isn’t consistent with a growing economy.

Grounded . . . along with the economy?

Today the Wall Street Journal takes note of one of my favorite indicators: Federal Express package shipping activity.  Demand for package delivery is about as real-time an indicator as you can get, and doesn’t depend on survey data, statistical modeling, and “seasonal adjustment.”  Today’s headline is “FedEx Scales Back Economic Forecasts.”  The story says FedEx’s U.S. package delivery volume was off by 4 percent last quarter.  They’re scaling back their own in-house economic forecast for the rest of the year.  They’re going to take some planes out of service and park them in the desert, and shrink their workforce through attrition.  Stay tuned.

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