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November 11, 2019


2019 looks like it may go out with a bang and a whimper. Around the world significant political events are afoot, giving us the bang. Many of these political events are depressing shipping demand, giving us the whimper. 


Starting with the US is a no-brainer. As the Democrat-controlled House is developing its case for impeachment, those elements of the media opposed to Trump clothe each new revelation in neon indignation. But...

November 4, 2019

They are a rum bunch, the English. Take this week’s festivities for instance. The English will set off fireworks to commemorate the discovery and defeat of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when pro-European conspirators attempted to blow up Parliament and the Protestant King James, who was a recent import from Scotland, replacing both with the King’s daughter as a pro-European Catholic head of state.

The plot was foiled, the conspir...

October 29, 2019

Earlier this month I gave a presentation to an invited audience of oil tanker owners. This in itself is not unusual. What was unusual on that particular day was the ballistic rise in oil tanker earnings. The freight market was spooked by US sanctions on elements of the COSCO ship owning behemoth, by Exxon’s refusal to hire any ship that had visited Venezuela in the last year, by US sanctions on Iran, by attacks on ships in the...

October 21, 2019

It was clear from the great majority of delegates to Cyprus Maritime 2019 that the shipping industry is serious about cleaning up its act.  On my own panel at the event, Dr Sadan Kaptanoglu, President of BIMCO, reiterated her conviction that delivering solutions to meet the world’s environmental expectations is her priority, which makes it BIMCO’s priority too. I’m sure that most other shipping organisations are in line with t...

October 14, 2019

Last week, before I went to Cyprus Maritime 2019, I opined in Macro Macchiato that, “with so much macro-economic confusion, predicting shipping markets is even more of a mug’s game than usual.” Even I didn’t expect the tanker markets to behave so unpredictably. They have reacted to an unexpected alignment of supply-side constraints. 
With COSCO Energy Shipping and National Iranian Tanker Company VLCCs out of the market due to...

October 7, 2019

Greetings from Cyprus, where today I am moderating a panel session entitled, Are Brighter Days Ahead for Shipping?

As any market analyst or data scientist will tell you, the main influence on shipping markets remains global GDP. And, as I have been saying for years, within the global set of GDP data, the main influence remains the twin processes of industrialization and urbanization especially in developing markets. So I’m exci...

September 30, 2019

Look Mum, we’re in the papers! It isn’t often that shipping finds its way onto the pages of the mainstream press. Usually it’s because of bad news. This week it’s because the US-Iran phony war has spread to the tanker market and has leached into the US-China trade war.

Last week the US State Department announced that, as part of its sanctions on Iran, it would sanction oil tanker companies that lift Iranian oil. Two units of Ch...

September 23, 2019

On Sunday, to mark the UN Climate Summit in New York, the World Meteorological Organisation published new data showing 2014-19 to be the warmest five-year-period on record at 1.1 Celsius above the average for 1850-1900 average. Here are some key findings:

“Arctic summer sea-ice extent has declined at a rate of approximately 12% per decade during 1979-2018. The four lowest values for winter sea-ice extent occurred between 2015 a...

September 16, 2019

However many billions the Saudis have spent on defence, it wasn’t enough to prevent the weekend attacks on Abqaiq. Half of Saudi oil production, around 5 Mn bpd, has been taken offline for an indeterminate period. Oil prices jumped by USD 20 per barrel on Monday morning, before falling back a bit to add abut USD 10 per barrel, which traders seem to accept as the appropriate geopolitical premium. How will the attack and its con...

September 9, 2019

Macro data are looking a bit wobbly this week. What will that do to shipping markets?

US jobs data for August were released on Friday. A total of 130,000 new jobs were created, which was about 20,000 below expectations. It was still a very positive number, though the Cassandras pointed to the addition of just 3,000 manufacturing jobs. After another round of US tariffs on Chinese exports, fears are growing that we are headed for...

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