Railroads are noting that 2020 will be a challenge due to weak manufacturing, low economic growth abroad that limits exports and the potential uncertainty global supply chains. Railroad traffic were down nearly 8% from 2019 to 2018. When coal was removed, the drop was over 6%. That is on top of other challenges the see. They are also concerned that changes to the climate may create added challenges.
Along with railroads, college investments funds have slowed as well. There are an estimated 100 universities have endowments in excess of $1 billion (led by Harvard at $40 million. Their returns in 2019 – 6% which sound great, but is less than prior years and was accomplished by risking their endowments in the stock market and less than the 10.4% earned in the stock market. These schools use and average of $30 million per year to cover their annual budgets. An economic downturn would create a challenge for them. Colleges are also facing a tax on their investment earnings imposed by Congress in 2017.
Some economists have argued we are due for a recession. Startups and tech growth has also slowed. Travel is an issue as wee as we are still trying to figure out the impact of the Corona virus on the economy. Is the spring the time and are the public utility systems ready for it?