One of the biggest bubbles over the last decade was the shipping bubble. Driven by the trade boom with China and other emerging markets, large investments were made in ships. Companies mortgaged their future and purchased a large number of ships, with the assumption of good times continuing forever. Long-time readers may recall when I wondered about the industry (from a contrarian point of view) back in 2009 in this post and this one. Time flies but even then, it seems like the shipping industry is still working through its overcapacity problem. It's interesting to note that they are still having problems—this, without China entering any slump, yet. Marketwatch reports,
The warning signs being flashed by the collapsing Baltic Dry Index (BDI), a leading global economic indicator, may reflect the folly of misguided expectations during the prior global economic boom, according to Hong Kong-based shipping analysts.The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) hit a low back in late-2008/early-2009 and I didn't think it would decline back to that level again, but it appears to have happened. The following chart from stockcharts.com illustrates how the BDI has collapsed lately.
New super-sized ships ordered up during the era of cheap credit and surging global trade could explain the index’s 57% plunge in the last three weeks, according to Macquarie Research, which described this month’s BDI drop as “relentless” and “extreme.”
***Shipping companies appear to have jinxed their own industry by ordering up too many grand ships when conditions looked very favorable before 2008.
Meanwhile, further new capacity, equivalent to 22.7% of the existing fleet, is due to be delivered this year, according to Macquarie calculations.
The index is very volatile but the move in the last month has been spectacular, with it down almost 70% within one month. From a long-term point of view, the index is approaching the multi-decade low set in 2009.
Tags: contrarian, global