AS most of us move into the new decade, the fortune tellers are out in force. Trendy modern folk that we are, we tuned in this week to ‘Forecasting the Future’, Capital Link Shipping’s webinar.
(Webinar. Get it? That’s a seminar on the web. It’s all very clever.)
Forecasting – what a laugh that is. Nevertheless some brave souls had a go. They chewed the cud over excess newbuildings but, egged on by the throaty Clay Maitland, the panel finally got round to the gorilla in the room, China.
In case you’ve missed it, China has been importing record levels of iron ore and coal in recent months. We’re talking a monthly peak of 16m tonnes of coal in the middle of 2009 compared with 4-6m tonnes in 2007. And iron ore shot up to a peak of 65m tonnes a month in 2009 compared with 25-35m in 2007.
No wonder the dry bulk market breathed a huge sigh of relief last year. But, come on, let’s be honest, how long can it last? One member of the webinar panel praised China’s bold approach to economic rescue, but Seabury’s Randee Day chose to be a bear rather than a bull and suggested that this particular gorilla might be heading for its own western-style credit problem. Fair comment! How long can it last?
Apologies for the gloomy perspective (we’re normally such a cheery bunch), but even with shortages, can China sustain imports at this level? And, crikey, even if it could, would that be enough to absorb the 91% of extra capesize tonnage that’s hanging over us like Damocles’ sword?
(a) No, (b) Not likely, (c) Er, well, you know, um, er, probably not.
So there you have it. The future by Spinnaker. Make hay while the sun shines!