from Wolf Street:
A week ago, we pointed out how China’s dropping exports and plunging imports – the “inevitable fallout from China’s unsustainable and poorly executed credit splurge,” according to Thomson Reuters – had collided with long-term bets by the shipping industry that has been counting on majestic endless growth.
The industry has been adding capacity in quantum leaps, where “the scramble to order so-called ultra-large container vessels had turned into a stampede,” as the Journal of Commerce put it. So we said, Pummeled by Lousy Global Demand and Rampant Overcapacity, China Containerized Freight Index Collapses to Worst Level Ever.
And now, the China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI) has dropped to an even worse level.
Unlike a lot of official data emerging from China, the index, which is operated by the Shanghai Shipping Exchange and sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Communications, is raw, unvarnished, not seasonally adjusted, or otherwise beautified. It’s volatile and a reflection of reality, as measured by how much it costs, based on contractual and spot market rates, to ship containers from China to 14 major destinations around the world.
These rates are a function of oversupply of shipping capacity and of lackluster demand for shipping containers to distant corners of the world. They’ve been in trouble since February. “Trouble” is a euphemism. They relentlessly plunged.
By early July, the index dropped below 800 for the first time in its history, which started in 1998 when the index was set at 1,000. It soon recovered to about 850. And just when bouts of hope were rising that the worst was over, it plunged again and hit even lower levels.
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