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 Here is a useful index of physical commerce in the U.S.

Bill Rafter reviews it:

That is interesting–an index based upon diesel purchases by long-haul trucks. They show you the charts, and to a small extent they are interactive, but there does not seem to be any back data available. If they want any recognition, they should put the data out there so the number crunchers can have a go at it. If it's worthwhile, the number crunchers will make it highly desirable.

It has certain distinct advantages:

It's based on thousands of real free-market transactions and not surveys.

Generally not revised.

Monthly with a two-week lag.

Has the potential to be more frequent with even less lag. Note U.S. treasury tax data is daily with a 1-day lag.

Because it is gathered (and presumably binned) locally, it could be used to track cross-border movements. There's not a whole lot of forex risk between USD, peso and C$, but the near-port area transactions could be of use with overseas forex risk.

Potential problems:

Long-haul truckers are very efficient in their avoidance of expensive diesel, taxes of which are state-based. So there's some potential for distortion.


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