Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shipping: a barometer of the world's economy

I have a friend in the shipping business and through him I learned how shipping can be a key indicator of economic health. Something has to carry good across the seas.

Right now, the business is so slow that the ships are going slowly, too. The Dutch research firm Dynamar suggests that, by mid-2010, half the world's active container ship fleet, carrying 35 per cent of global trade by value, was steaming slower than before the economic downturn -- 15 knots or less.

To put that in perspective: most container ships move more slowly on the great trading routes than the fast sailing ships of the late-19th and early-20th centuries.  The clipper ship Cutty Sark, built in Scotland in 1969, carried wool from Australia to Britain in 67 days, with a top speed of 17.2 knots. She once averaged 15 knots, sailing 360 miles in a day's run of 24 hours.

(Hellenic Shipping News via Business Insider)

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