The 2008 Annual Review referred to ominous signs of a change in market dynamics for the worse, replete with many lurking signs of uncertainty. There were clear signals, a year ago, that indicated a turbulent year ahead in general and a cloudy maritime horizon in particular. Although a decline was expected, the magnitude of the current downward economic spiral has far exceeded the predictions of every analyst in the field. Its impact has been so draconian that most players in the market seem perplexed. While the first half of 2008 left the maritime world confounded by high inflationary pressures and bunker prices that climbed as high as $750 per metric ton, the latter half provided the antithesis through a global financial meltdown and impending deflation. Sadly, the decline continues unabated in 2009. New terms like deglobalization are entering our lexicon. Every shipping market is in turmoil today, with the nations of the world and their citizens in disarray.
2009 U.S. Merchant Marine and World Maritime Review
Recovery may come in 2010, but the present is not rosy for shipping.
By Shashi Kumar