What have been some notable short-term rail impacts of the worldwide COVID-19 crisis thus far? (Anthony B. Hatch; abh consulting)

Train Through Trees

This has been a boon to Amazon, of course – remember, an increasingly important rail customer. They have pledged to hire 100K employees; at the same time, they are beginning to suspend moving “non-essential” traffic….

The US borders have been closed for non-essential traffic. Both of our NAFTA partners haven’t been impacted directly to the degree that the USA has. Canada appears to be taking an aggressive stance, Mexico much more laissez-faire (allowing major festivals, etc to go on, etc), which could cost them in the longer term….

The impact on China was tremendous – industrial output for January/February was down 13.55 (Reuters: biggest contraction in history) and unemployment jumped to 6.5% (and, remember, those are official PRC statistics). Exports were down 17%+ in those two months, before beginning to correct…. Chinese factories are ramping up, as has been widely reported, and ports as well. There remains big supply chain disruption (containers poorly distributed, etc). But one thought some China-watchers have pursued is to watch the Chinese plantings – their internal Ag supply chain disruption may cause shortages (that may compensate for the thesis that the C19 (COVID-19) crisis will allow China to miss its promised US Ag purchases in 2020).

Will the biggest short term impact be the removal of GUIDANCE as we have seen from FDX and others so far? Sometimes (often) Guidance is too much, too managed; but if the entire market offers no guidance, well….