Sunday, November 02, 2008

The end of deflationary trade

From the AU Business Spectator;
The global shipping crash continues to get worse and this morning’s GDP data shows the US recession is already deeper than 2001 and probably 1990-91 as well.

Meanwhile the International Monetary Fund seems determined to make the whole thing worse by imposing the most ruinous strictures on supplicant nations.

Yesterday the Baltic Dry freight rate index fell below 1000 for the first time in six years and last night it fell another 40 points to 885. In June the index was 11,900, so it has fallen 93 per cent in a few months – a crash far worse than anything ever seen in the stockmarket.

The spot daily rental for a Capesize ship is now $6365, down from $234,000 per day over the space of a few weeks. Maybe that previous price was absurdly inflated, but at $6365 it is just $365 above the average daily cost of crews and fuel.

As a result the world’s ports are filling with empty ships because shipowners can’t afford to run them, as well as some full ships because the owners of the cargo won’t unload without a bank letter of credit, which banks are refusing to supply.

Shipping companies are starting to file for bankruptcy in increasing numbers as they breach loan covenants, and a shipping researcher, Andreas Vergottis of Tufton Oceanic has told Bloomberg that a fifth of the world’s dry bulk companies may soon have negative net worth because the market for second hand ships has collapsed and the value of their fleets is below outstanding debt.

Like property-based loan agreements, shipping companies’ debt covenants have loan to value ratios that are typically 70 per cent. As the value of their fleets decline, banks are making margin calls.
If you think it's bad for global shipping, (and I know, you weren't thinking about this topic at all, despite what I told you some weeks ago about grain shipments), just think about what a hellified effect the current financial crisis must be having on airlines and air-based cargo transport!!!!