BDI

World Trade Lost at Sea

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on September 12, 2016

container-ship

Containers crammed with electronics, clothing and other potential Christmas presents are stranded at sea by the bankruptcy of one of the world’s largest shipping lines. There's more to come. (Photo by NASA)

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homo sapiens, well, that’s another question, for another time.)

But the fact is that homo sapiens ephemera simply cannot grasp the fact that a long, slow-burning fuse, however boring it is to watch, almost always leads to a terrible explosion. By that time, ephemera has forgotten the fuse and is always surprised. (“Wow, no one could have seen that coming,” he says.)

So it is with globalized trade, the system set up to allow increasingly impoverished people to borrow money on their credit cards to buy cheap crap — made in China by totally impoverished and sometimes enslaved people — at their local MartMart store. The brilliance of the system is that while the people who make the crap and the people who consume it remain impoverished, the corporations that manufacture, finance, transport, market and insure the crap get filthy rich. (Stay with me, homo sapiens ephemera, something’s going to happen in the next graph, I swear.)

Teensy flaw in the operating theory: once the lower (formerly known as middle) class has spent all its money and maxed out all of its credit and lost all of its jobs to the truly impoverished in the Third World because they work for so much less, there’s nothing left with which to buy cheap crap. Consequently — make that inevitably —  global trade has been slowing steadily since 2010, which you may remember was Year Two of the Great Recovery from the Great Recession. (I know, Ephemera, I lied about something happening in this graph, the next one, I promise. Stay with me! Where’s a good clickbait writer when you need one? “Financial genius reveals shocking truth about global bikini trade! You won’t believe your eyes!!!”)  

Okay, now that I’ve got you for a few more seconds, here’s what’s happened. After years of telling you about the burning fuse [Global Recession Accelerating toward Depression last October,  World Trade is Coming to a Halt [UPDATED]  in January and  They’re Parking the Trains. And the Ships and Planes and Trucks… in May, to name a few] something has finally blown up. Not the whole enchilada yet, but a big chunk of it. The seventh largest container-ship operator in the world is insolvent.

Who gives a farthing? You do, that’s who, because as a result YOUR KIDS MAY NOT GET THIS YEAR’S MUST-HAVE, EVERYBODY-ELSE-HAS-ONE XMAS TOYS! Talk about Apocalypse Now.

 89 monster container ships owned by Hanjin Shipping Company, South Korea’s largest shipping line, were at sea when the company asked for bankruptcy protection from South Korean courts. Immediately, ports worldwide began refusing them permission to dock for fear they would be unable to collect docking fees. If they did dock, they would be unable to unload without paying upfront the costs of unloading. If they did unload the cargo would not be moved from the terminal unless shippers were paid in advance. And of course refueling the vessels would require cash in advance.

Fourteen billion dollars worth of cargo, much of it Christmas merchandise that must be unloaded so to make the peak shopping season that begins the day after Thanksgiving,  is stranded on ships that need over half a billion dollars in cash to cover current expenses. The company has raised $90 million, and has asked the South Korean government for an emergency loan of $90 million, but prospects for avoiding liquidation are bleak. The company needs another $1.2 billion almost immediately to roll over maturing debt, and having incurred staggering losses for four of the last five years, may not be able to do it.  

Hanjin is hardly alone. The world’s shipping industry has been losing serious money since last year, and is on track to lose $5 billion this year. Industry analysts attribute the losses to an oversupply of ships, but another way to put that is to blame it on an undersupply of cargo.

Although four Hanjin ships have been granted protection by US courts and have raised the money to unload their cargoes in the U.S., havoc continues to spread through global commerce where Hanjin is being seen as merely the first card to fall.

I know. It took too long to explain. Tune in tomorrow, homo sapiens ephemera, for the 140-character version.  

Baltic Dry Index hits All-Time Low

container_ship_topplinggc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Publishes on The Economic Collapse on November 19, 2015

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I was absolutely stunned to learn that the Baltic Dry Shipping Index had plummeted to a new all-time record low of 504 at one point on Thursday.  I have written a number of articles lately about the dramatic slowdown in global trade, but I didn’t realize that things had gotten quite this bad already.  Not even during the darkest moments of the last financial crisis did the Baltic Dry Shipping Index drop this low.  Something doesn’t seem to be adding up, because the mainstream media keeps telling us that the global economy is doing just fine.  In fact, the Federal Reserve is so confident in our “economic recovery” that they are getting ready to raise interest rates.  Of course the truth is that there is no “economic recovery” on the horizon.  In fact, as I wrote about yesterday, there are signs all around us that are indicating that we are heading directly into another major economic crisis.  This staggering decline of the Baltic Dry Shipping Index is just another confirmation of what is directly ahead of us.

Overall, the Baltic Dry Index is down more than 60 percent over the past 12 months.  Global demand for shipping is absolutely collapsing, and yet very few “experts” seem alarmed by this.  If you are not familiar with the Baltic Dry Shipping Index, the following is a pretty good definition from Investopedia

A shipping and trade index created by the London-based Baltic Exchange that measures changes in the cost to transport raw materials such as metals, grains and fossil fuels by sea. The Baltic Exchange directly contacts shipping brokers to assess price levels for a given route, product to transport and time to delivery (speed).

The Baltic Dry Index is a composite of three sub-indexes that measure different sizes of dry bulk carriers (merchant ships) – Capesize, Supramax and Panamax. Multiple geographic routes are evaluated for each index to give depth to the index’s composite measurement.

It is also known as the “Dry Bulk Index”.

Much of the decline of the Baltic Dry Shipping Index is being blamed on China.  The following comes from a Bloomberg report that was posted on Thursday…

The cost of shipping commodities fell to a record, amid signs that Chinese demand growth for iron ore and coal is slowing, hurting the industry’s biggest source of cargoes.

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping rates for everything from coal to ore to grains, fell to 504 points on Thursday, the lowest data from the London-based Baltic Exchange going back to 1985. Among the causes of shipowners’ pain is slowing economic growth in China, which is translating into weakening demand for imported iron ore that’s used to make the steel.

So many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed back in 2008 are playing out once again in front of our very eyes.  Below, I have shared a chart that was posted by Zero Hedge, and it shows how the Baltic Dry Shipping Index absolutely collapsed in 2008 as we headed into a major financial crisis.  Well, now the Index is collapsing again, and it is already lower than it was at any point back in 2008…

Baltic Dry Index - Zero Hedge

The evidence continues to mount that we are steamrolling toward a deflationary economic slowdown that is worldwide in scope.

Just look at the price of U.S. oil.  It just keeps on falling, and as I write this article it is sitting at $40.40.

The price of oil collapsed just before the financial crisis of 2008, and the same pattern is happening again.

And look at what is happening to commodities. The Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB Commodity Index has plummeted to the lowest level that we have seen since the last recession. It is now down more than 30 percent over the past 12 months, and it continues to fall.

So don’t be fooled by the temporary “stock market recovery” that we have witnessed.  The underlying economic fundamentals continue to decline.  We are entering a global deflationary recession, and the stock market will get the memo at some point just like we saw in 2008.

At this moment, global financial markets are teetering on the brink, and all it is going to take is some kind of major trigger event to send them tumbling over the edge.

And such an event may be coming sooner than you may think.

We live at a time when global terrorism is surging, relationships between nations are deteriorating and our planet is shaking in wild and unpredictable ways.

It wouldn’t take much to push the financial world into full-blown panic mode.  A major regional war in the Middle East, a terror attack that kills thousands, or an earthquake or volcanic eruption that affects a large U.S. city are all potential examples of “black swan events” which could fit the bill.

The global financial system has never been more primed for another 2008-style crisis.  Thanks to the fragility of the system, it could literally happen any day now.

So keep your eyes open – within weeks our world could be completely and totally different.

Bad Economic Signs 2012

Off the keyboard of Brandon Smith

Published originally on Alt-Market  on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 02:21 by Brandon Smith

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In January of this year, I wrote an analytic financial piece entitled ‘Baltic Dry Index Signals Renewed Market Collapse’:

http://www.alt-market.com/articles/540-baltic-dry-index-signals-renewed-market-collapse

In that article I discussed the record breaking low hit by the BDI and its implications for the global economy; namely, that it signaled a steep decline in true demand around the world for raw materials used in the manufacture of consumer goods, and that similar declines in the BDI’s past have almost always prophesized a crisis event in financial markets.  The mainstream media attempted to write off the implosion of the BDI as a fluke, tied to the “overproductions of cargo ships”, instead of a warning sign of deteriorating demand.  Of course, the past 6 months have proven that assertion to be entirely false.

Manufacturing has tumbled in the U.S., the EU, and Asia simultaneously as orders drop back to the dismal levels last seen in 2008-2009 after the credit crisis first took hold:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/01/us-global-economy-idUSBRE85008R20120601

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/03/news/us-manufacturing-down-20120703

http://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/uk-production-falls-to-three-year-low-as-europe-crisis-worsens/

http://www.tokyotimes.com/2012/weak-demand-in-china-and-europe-hurts-japanese-exports/

Despite the astonishing amount of manipulation that goes into our fiscal system by major banks, there are still a few fundamental rules to economics that never change.  The bottom line?  Demand around the world is derailing, hinting at a broad spectrum disintegration of public buying power.  Where demand goes, so goes the economy.

As I have pointed out in the past when explaining the importance of the BDI, crashes in the index are usually made visible on mainstreet around 8 months to a year after the event.  That is to say, the economies of multiple nations move into a widely felt crisis event around 8 to 12 months after the BDI crashes. 

There is a strange delayed reaction between the initial exposure of weakness in the financial system and the public’s realization of the truth, sort of like Wile E. Coyote dashing off a cliff in the cartoons only to continue running in mid-air above the abyss below.  It is a testament to the fact that beyond the math, there is an undeniable power of psychology in our economy.  The investment world naively believes it can fly, even with the weight of endless debt around its ankles, and for a very short time, that pure delirious oblivious belief sustains the markets.  Eventually, though, gravity always triumphs over fantasy…

In May, I also discussed the impending disaster in the EU in light of elections which would obviously lead to a clash (or engineered clash) between proponents of austerity and proponents of endless stimulus spending.  I suggested that this clash would trigger a possible remodeling or complete breakdown of the European Union in the near future:

http://www.alt-market.com/articles/765-economic-alert-if-youre-not-worried-yetyou-should-be

Today, I do not think that it would be outlandish to suggest (even to the casual market observer) that the EU has indeed been fractured, though the establishment still strives to maintain the façade. 

Spain and Italy have both requested bailouts from the ECB, finally exposing a problem which alternative analysts have been warning about for years.  While the mainstream media has been bicycle-kicking the long dead horse of Greece, the much more detrimental problems of the rest of the EU have been completely ignored.  Only now are investors beginning to understand that there is no such thing as a “Greek Contagion”; the whole of Europe has been quietly suffering through a debt malaise that surpasses the Greek issue.  Still, central banks pushed the idea that Greece was the gangrenous toe of the EU, claiming it had to be cured or amputated, or the infection would invade the entire body.  The truth is, Europe has been host to a systemic disease from the very beginning.  Greece is just a side-note. 

The UK has openly admitted that it has “returned” to recession.  Mass credit downgrades have been issued by S&P and Moody’s in primary EU economies, including France and Spain.  Italy’s credit rating has been cut only two notches above junk status and its bond sales have turned to Jell-O.  Spain has declared austerity cuts which include the confiscation of employee pension funds.  Does this sound like an economic body near “recovery”, as was the rhetoric spouted by the MSM a year ago, or, does it sound like the EU has gone off the deep end?

In the meantime, China continues to court their global trading partners with bilateral trade agreements designed to remove the dollar as the world reserve currency, and recent events appear to be hastening this process.  With American and European demand faltering, Chinese manufacturers are threatened with an even more severe export breakdown than they saw back in 2008, and so, it is only a matter of time before the BRIC and ASEAN economic blocs fully solidify their trade partnerships outside of the West, and away from the dollar. 

The year of 2012 has proven to be the most startling as far as financial news has been concerned.  Vastly more startling to me than 2008.  In 2008, the illusion of bank coherence and government action was carefully molded for the consumption of the masses.  The intimate connections between government and corporate fraud were glossed over with expert care.  There was an active and methodical effort to make us believe that the problems of 2008 were peripheral, and that the system at its foundation was sound.  This time around, the corruption has become utterly blatant and disturbingly nonchalant.  There is no attempt on the part of central and corporate banking interests anymore to hide the fact that the entire edifice is a cheap magic trick.  In fact, they now parade their distortions as if they are “helping” the country, instead of destroying it. 

When criminals are no longer concerned with hiding their crimes, it is time for the rest of us to start worrying.  That is to say, the current behavior of the establishment leads me to believe that a new phase in the crisis is about to arise.

Three recent events in particular (on top of all that has already happened this year) should be noted by those who wish to gauge the acceleration of financial hazard around the world:

Multiple Central Banks Issuing Policy Changes Simultaneously

Only a week ago, the supposedly independent and sovereign central banks of China, the UK, and the EU made multilateral policy changes including cutting interest rates to zero and reinstituting stimulus measure all within the SAME HOUR of each other:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/05/us-centralbanks-action-idUSBRE8640RN20120705

This is a disturbing and open admission by central banks that they not only dominate the economic structure of their host countries, but they do so in a coordinated fashion.  In the past, central bankers have made a point to at least pretend that they do not work in tandem with each other and are not centralized around a global methodology or hierarchy.  Today, they do not seem to mind if the public is aware of how they really operate.

Some might argue that central banks of individual nations have cooperated in the past, and that this is nothing new.  Partly true.  Central banks have enacted policy initiatives in tandem with each other before, but usually only after absurd levels fanfare and summits galore.  The pageantry of G8’s and G20’s and Davos and any number of other global meetings were a fulcrum point which central banks used to buy political capital with sovereign populations.   They had planned to institute these multilateral economic actions anyway, but the pageantry and theater came first.  Today, private central banks are taking joint action without ANY public meetings, even fake meetings.       

I feel that this is the start of an expedited trend towards full centralization of sovereign economies, and that soon, central banks will act as if single broad spectrum global monetary policy measures and global economic governance are legal and “commonplace”. 

Trade Volume Collapsing

The S&P has now generated the worst market volume in over a decade.  Small market investors are fleeing in droves away from stocks, leaving only the big players to dominate the field:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-02/volatility-surging-in-s-p-500-with-volume-lowest-in-decade-1-.html

This extreme lack of volume will facilitate a return to volatility, and we are about to see the same kind of massive stock spikes and drops that we tasted three years ago.  I would like to point out that the Fed, almost religiously, waits until stock markets go into cardiac arrest before announcing new stimulus measures and quantitative easing.  They delay until the investment world begs for printing, and then, they give it to them, with a smile. 

The Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) Scandal

Like the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. that heralded the credit crisis, the Libor Scandal has the potential to rock the pillars of the banking world like nothing I have ever seen before.  The average person needs to understand three things about Libor:

1) The manipulation of loans and credit swaps through the Libor interest rate mechanism has allowed big banks to hide the true extend of their incredible debts since the 2008 derivatives implosion.  Some mainstream economists are actually calling this a “good thing”, because, according to them, the lie of Libor fooled investors into supporting the markets where they may not have otherwise if they had known the truth.  They say the lie “averted Armageddon”.  Frankly, this is idiotic.  Libor has saved nothing, and the lack of transparency and honesty from corporate banks has only postponed an inevitable calamity which will be even worse now because it was allowed to continue on for years longer than it should have.       

2) Barclays and other institutions have claimed that they “had to use Libor fraud”.  Why?  Because every other major bank used it!  Their argument is that they had to lie in order to remain competitive.  Even if you buy this rationalization, you have to acknowledge the deeper problem here:  Barclays is essentially pointing out that EVERY major bank uses Libor to hide the fact that they are in dire straights.  In 2012, the system has openly confessed its own insolvency.  You do not need a fortune telling gypsy to predict a major collapse for you; the banks have just told us exactly what is about to happen.

3) Finally, regulators and central banks on both sides of the ocean, from the U.S. to the UK, from the Federal Reserve to the Bank Of England, relent that they KNEW about the Libor fraud being conducted by numerous banks as early as 2008, but kept their mouths shut.  This shows not only that central banks have been complicit in financial criminal activities, but governments have played along as well.  This fits right in with what I have stated for years: 

The economic collapse could not possibly be a “random” event.  Its culmination requires the collusion of so many corporate and government entities that it would be foolish to call it anything other than conspiracy. 

So, what comes next?  According to the path which I predicted back in January, the economy is near a climax event.  Perhaps an announcement of QE3 leading to ugly dollar devaluation, perhaps another bankruptcy by a “too big to fail” conglomerate leading to a firestorm in stocks, or perhaps even the exit of certain countries from the EU.  Maybe all of this and more.  The point is, keep your eyes fixed on the financial sector as we move into fall and winter.  There is a bleak harvest on the horizon…

 

You can contact Brandon Smith atbrandon@alt-market.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Alt-Market is an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for mutual aid and defense.  Join Alt-Market.com today and learn what it means to step away from the system and build something better.

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