Sounds like an outlandish request, but if you were stranded on a deserted island and could only pick one number to determine the state of the economy, would your pick align with investment guru, Warren Buffett? He chose railcar traffic, and once again was proven to be right by, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Ethan Harris and Alex Lin.

Railcar traffic can account for 34% of the variance in quarterly GDP, higher than any other weekly economic measure. Jobless claims, generally the most talked about of the weekly measures, can account for only 23%. It also is significantly in sync with manufacturing output and monthly GDP changes. Similar to GDP growth, railcar traffic has confirmed the lackluster start to 2015.


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