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February 29, 2024

From Panic to Plateau: Navigating the Long Road to Economic Normalcy

Picture of Hank Newman, CEO/Founder

Hank Newman, CEO/Founder

I’ll stick with my prediction that it will take a decade for most trends, graphs, predictions, etc., to normalize after that lunacy.

This past week, the DAT capacity index hit a 1.0. For reference, the last time the index was this low was when we were dead in the middle of the panic shutdown in April 2020. Truckload rates have followed suit and bumped along what many believe is a bottom. We may well be at a low point, but we could meander along this bottom for longer than we think.

Take a hard look at the Cass Freight Index below and read the patterns. You can argue that “normal” was cycling up and down from a 1.1 level. In late 2017, we really started taking off with high demand that peaked in mid-2018 at record levels. The demand stayed strong but was starting its natural course of correcting when Covid hit and flushed it all out. The excesses of 2020 have kept the index artificially high, but it appears we’re finally trying to work back into some normalcy. Or — do we set records to the downside now, like what happened in 2008-2009?

You might argue something different – this is what I see, and it tells me demand isn’t picking up quickly any time soon.

What do you see in your business? Please shoot me a note with your industry outlook!

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