The tantalizingly upbeat ambience that prevailed toward the end of 2013 led most pundits to predict an improving world economy in 2014 and a period of rising expectations in the shipping industry. Although the year was not recessionary by any means, the sluggish 3.3 percent global economic growth simply failed to unshackle key maritime markets from their prolonged morass. According to Michael Grey of Lloyd’s List, the maritime sector was hit by numerous black swans. In the United States, despite positive developments in the maritime sector after decades of inertia, the aggressive Saudi Arabian stance to maintain the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) market share has temporarily throttled the shale oil-driven optimism. Even the unanticipated steep decline in fuel-oil prices was insufficient to generate a rising tide that would lift the global maritime community, and shipping confidence is now at its lowest level since 2012.
U.S. Merchant Marine and World Maritime Review
By Shashi Kumar