BEIJING (Dispatches) - The global shipping industry is getting its biggest payday since 2008 as a combination of booming demand for goods and a global supply chain that is collapsing under the weight of Covid-19 drive freight prices ever higher.
Whether it is giant container ships stacked high with of 40-foot steel boxes, bulk carriers whose cavernous holds house thousands of tonnes of coal, or specialized vessels designed to pack in cars and trucks, earnings are soaring for ships of almost every type.
With the merchant fleet hauling about 80 per cent of world trade, the surge reaches into every corner of the economy. The boom back in 2008 brought with it a huge wave of new vessel orders, but the rally was quickly undone by a demand collapse when a financial crisis triggered the deepest global recession in decades.
This boom’s causes are twofold – an economic reopening after Covid that has spurred surging demand for goods and raw materials. Alongside that, the virus continues to cause disruption in global supply chains, choking up ports and delaying vessels, all of which is limiting how many are available to haul goods across oceans. That has left most of the shipping sector with bumper earnings in recent months.
The bonanza is centered around container shipping – where rates are spiraling ever higher to record highs, but it is by no means limited to it. The shipping industry is posting its strongest daily earnings since 2008, according to Clarkson Research Services, part of the world’s biggest shipbroker. The only laggards are the oil and gas tanker markets, where more bearish forces are at play.