Trains, Trash and the Economy

Can trains and trash predict the economy?

I wish I paid more attention to my wonderful colleagues.  One of my fellow professors, Suzanne Coshow, shared an interesting article with me.  It is an article that relates railways, trash and the economy.  What?  Apparently, the amount of waste hauled by railways is a slight leading indicator of the economy.  After looking at the article and accompanying chart I can only concur.  To access this article, click here.

To put this into perspective let me relate this brief story.  On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I join my students at the Huddle, our on campus union building, to have a bagel and coffee and share watching CNBC’s Morning Call. Although there are days I prefer to stay at home some mornings, there is nothing that gets you to campus better than a great hour or so of fun conversation with your students.  A new, big flat screen digital television is at our beck and call. 

On this day last week Norfolk Southern’s stock price was being beaten with an approximate eight percent loss.  Guidance had just been disseminated projecting car loadings will be down.  I was trying to carry a conversation with my young friends while keeping the television in sight.

Now, there is no reason to panic here.  A great friend and investment advisor of my past always told me that no one ever made a dime by panicking.  However, I must respect past history and watch for a continued degradation of car loadings and resulting loss of stock value.  Perhaps it may soon be time to reduce my rail holdings.

Perhaps it is time to start listening better to my colleagues.

About Edward Hums

Edward F. Hums, M.B.A., C.P.A. Teaching Professor of Accountancy Ed Hums is in his tenth year as a full-time faculty member of the Mendoza College of Business and currently teaches financial and managerial accounting to undergraduates and team teaches a course in the Masters in Non-Profit Administration program. He also lectures in the Executive Education program at the University and at various corporate locations. Ed is currently faculty coordinator for the Vivian Harrington Gray Notre Dame – St. Mary’s Tax Assistance Program. In addition to his teaching and lecturing, Ed monitors the rail industry. Ed received the Frank O’Malley Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, the highest individual teaching award at the University, in 2004 and the Paul Fenlon Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2005. In 2006 when the on-line version of Business Week initially profiled America’s favorite business professors, Ed was the first faculty member listed. In 2008 Ed received an Edmund P. Joyce C.S.C. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In October 2010 at the request of Student Government, Ed delivered Notre Dame’s Fall 2010 “Last Lecture” in Washington Hall. Ed served Notre Dame for 26 years in various administrative roles at the University including budgeting, financial planning, tax reporting, systems management, and financial reporting. In 1989 while working in administration, Ed began teaching on a part-time basis. Ed is a 1975 graduate of Notre Dame with an undergraduate degree in accountancy. He was lead student trainer on Notre Dame’s 1973 national championship football team. Ed holds two masters’ degrees from Indiana University South Bend, and is a licensed CPA in Indiana. Ed and his wife, Shirley, a staff member in the University’s athletic department and Notre Dame alum, reside in Mishawaka. Ed is a member of the Edward Fredrick Sorin Society, Notre Dame Monogram Club, Indiana CPA Society, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Accounting Association, Beta Alpha Psi, National Association of Rail Shippers and is player/coach of the Notre Dame faculty hockey team.
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