OWNERS, managers and charterers look to be in an upbeat mood, at least according to the latest confidence survey by accountants Moore Stephens. Now, before you scoff at this series of newsworthy surveys, don't forget that it's confidence, or lack of it, that play a huge part in deciding the direction of the economy.
On a scale of one to 10 the confidence level was 5.9 compared to 5.7 for the previous survey in November last year. Ship managers, we read, are the most confident shipping category scoring with a confidence increase of 5.8 to 6.2 during the three month period.
Owner confidence was up from 5.7 to 5.9 and charterers from 5.6 to 5.8. The only despondent bracket was brokers whose confidence went down from 5.7 to 5.5. Many respondents still expressed concern about the state of the shipping industry and the economy in general. According to one: "There are too many ships trading, too many ships delivering, and too many owners stumbling blind into delicate markets, upsetting the fragile status quo that had previously existed". Another commented: "The situation is very unsure. There is too much tonnage and too little finance".
Newbuildings delivered this year, said a third are still being fixed at lower rates than 2009, which may account for some of the broker gloom.
Try to keep on smiling through you chaps. The survey does after all show that respondents are more bullish about freight rates over the coming months. As Moore Stephens partner Richard Greiner put it, the increase in confidence is good news, and with the survey suggesting that more people are considering investment, that is a sure sign that things are starting to improve. We shall see. We shall see.