Category Archives: Shipping

Some box terminals are facing ‘catastrophic economic failure’, warns analyst – The Loadstar

What’s the truth? Some experts say that terminals must be able to handle giant ships and therefore few customers, or fail.  Olaf Merk (of the OECD) says it looks like a ‘monopsony’; a port has only one or very few customers. Actually according to Alan Manning [1], who ‘wrote the book’ on monopsony, a monopsony simply means that there is little elasticity of supply (of incoming containers i.e. ships) for the port.

The classic monopsony situation occurs in labor supply; the ‘company town’. It used to be seen in mining and very early, in manufacturing.  In a company town, if you want to work, you have to work for the one employer.  The firm must raise wages for all employees if it needs more than are available at the town. If it needs fewer employees, it can drop wages.  Manning’s book defines labor monopsony as any case in which the labor supply (of workers) is inelastic (relatively vertical supply curve) while labor demand by the employer is elastic (downward sloping demand for labor).

What makes for inelastic labor supply? In the company town it happens because workers feel they don’t have mobility flexibility– it’s too far to the next place to work. But monopsony can happen for lots of reasons– discrimination, for one, can limit workers’ ability to get a different job.  In fact, any condition that prevents workers from seeking other work, and thereby constricting individuals’ market for jobs, suffices. Examples include safety on the job, or most recently in the news, forcing truck drivers to lease their trucks through a drayage firm.  The huge lease obligations pin the drivers to the job, and they lose control of work conditions and in the case of trucking, pay scales as well, since the drayage work in US ports is often piece work rather than (often unionized) pay by the hour.

In the port example the port is the labor supply– if the port is forced to upgrade to support ULCC ships in the 17-20KTEU range, it will be captive to those carriers that wish to run those big  ships to it. These consume so much port capacity that the port will not be able to solicit other jobs from smaller ships.  If it does, congestion will result.  The very few carriers calling there with their ULCCs will demand lower prices to land, and the port ‘wage’ will decline. That naturally also affects their profitability.

And the ports that don’t adapt to the large ships will not be able to get work at all, or nowhere near as much. It’s like the people living too far from the company town (on the remote farms) who will fall out of the labor market for that firm.

Such fun employing economic analysis to ports.

Source: Some box terminals are facing ‘catastrophic economic failure’, warns analyst – The Loadstar

[1] Alan Manning (2003) Monopsony in Motion

 

Safety & Shipping Review 2017

 

Maritime losses at sea are always worth reviewing. Allianz, a major insurer, has published this report on 2016 shipping incidents, and trends to be expected in 2017 and beyond. See the pdf below for the full report.

This review focuses on key developments in maritime safety and analyzes shipping losses (of over 100 gross tons) during the 12 months prior to December 31, 2016. It also identifies some of key risk management challenges the industry faces moving forward.

Source: Safety & Shipping Review 2017 – Supply Chain 24/7 Paper

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Tackling 2020 Sulfur Limits

Tackling 2020: the impact of the IMO and how shipowners can deal with tighter sulfur limits

This special report from S&P and Platts documents the issues for ocean carriers, and the strategies they might employ.  The report is detailed and interesting, and important reading for shipping executives.

Ocean shippers will be more tightly coupled into world petroleum markets, and their prices will be more volatile and depend on other supplies and demands, more so than before.  There’s potential for the supply of proper bunkers and its location to alter trade routes and even the profitability of some export trades, especially in agricultural products.

And the strategies ocean shipping owners can use are limited; they include noncompliance, too, which may get them in a lot of trouble, but would save a lot of money in upfront expense for scrubbers, new ships, or for a specialized fuel rather than MDO.

The report is well worth a read.  You have to register to get it, but it’s free.

plattslogo  Special report
The International Maritime Organization’s decision to tighten sulfur limits on bunker fuel has left shipowners with a dilemma they continue to brush aside. S&P Global Platts weighs up the options and the implications for the shipping industry, the market and refiners as the 2020 deadline approaches.

Download the report…

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