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Key U.S. Recession Predictor Is Missing From Nation's Highways

  • Truck cargo, a barometer of recent recessions, keeps rising
  • Industrial freight falls while consumer goods buoy shipments
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Assessing the Risk of Recession

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As a serial entrepreneur based in Greenwich, Connecticut, Bradley Jacobs hangs out with the big-money crowd dominated by hedge fund and private-equity types. The tenor of their conversations, he’s observed, has suddenly grown pessimistic with many now fretting the economy’s sinking into recession. As the owner of a trucking business (his latest venture), Jacobs also hears directly from a very different set: retailers across America. The buzz from them is decidedly more upbeat, what he calls “closet positive.”

In the “sense that it’s not fashionable right now to be positive,” says Jacobs, who as chief executive officer of XPO Logistics Inc. controls 11,000 trucks in North America and brokers freight for companies.