Over on Facebook, people are getting weird and panicky, and posting various bits of data out of context. They're freaking out more than I think they should about the Baltic Dry Index, in particular, and are starting to do things like quote Superstation 95 as a source. (Pro tip: SUPERSTATION 95 IS NOT A SOURCE. DO NOT QUOTE IT. EVER.*)
Anyway, here's a cross-comparison chart you should consider before panicking about the Baltic Dry Index; it's oil price against BDI. Fuel is a meaningful part of the cost of shipping. Note that the BDI follows (in part) the chart of oil, and oil hasn't been this cheap in a while
Note further that crude oil imports in North America are at lows not seen in a long time due to domestic production; consider the implications of that on an overbuilt shipping fleet. Note further
further that China went off its binge of years-in-advance commodity buying a few years ago and a couple of years ago dropped out of that entirely. Note the effects of that
on copper and other important industrial commodities, and the effects of that
on the value of shipping
any of those things around, and the effects of that
on demand for shipping and - therefore - price demand ability of an overbuilt shipping fleet.
Get the picture?
I'm not saying shipping isn't slowing. It is, for all the reasons related above. Earnings are also disappointing this season, and the economy is
showing stress. Automobile demand isn't great, for example. But these are secular realities in a commodities slump. This happens. Don't panic.
Really, I have to wonder how much recessions (and impressions thereof) are going to change once we get a generation of people who haven't been
looking at an alternate mode of civilisation under a completely different economic system (the Communist bloc), and for whom each recession is not
some sort of existential crisis leading to straight to international communism. I'm not even sure the millennials will be able to get past it - this might very well take another generation past that. We'll just have to see.
*: Superstation 95 is, in fact, a front for a white-supremacist revolutionary organisation (Hal Turner's, specifically), heavy on the conspiracy theory. A few days ago, they posted a "story" that got passed around through various blogs and ended up on Zero Hedge unquestioned, claiming that all ocean shipping had stopped. All of it
. This was horseshit - even the graphic they posted showed cargo ships en route - but that didn't stop people from taking it at face value. Their goal is destabilisation through fear in order to launch a race war. They also claim to be a New York City radio station; they are not. There is no such license. If they exist at all on the air, it is as a pirate station.