ISN’T IT THE RULE OF THUMB that a bubble is about to burst when it hits the mainstream conscience? If you’re reading about it in the newspapers, you’re too late to invest. That sort of thing.
So, looking back, it really is a wonder that so many people – banks and inter-dealer brokers spring to mind – were getting into shipping so late in the boom. We kid ourselves that large organisations with access to expert advice and data are better placed than mere mortals to make wise decisions.
Okay, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Accepting that, it now seems staggering that so many millions were spent investing in ships, buying into shipping companies and lending to them on easy terms as late as 2008.
So, are there any new accepted wisdoms emerging and will these turn out to be pearls of wisdom or sows’ ears? Here’s a few ‘certainties’ we’ve heard more than once recently:
- Despite current over-supply, the shipping market will bounce back in 2014
- Despite current over-supply and yet-to-be-delivered vessels, now is the time to order eco-friendly ships; they’re relatively cheap and there will be sufficient demand for them
- Ditto new [widened] panamax vessels
- Now is the time to buy cheap second-hand tonnage
- Vessel prices will continue to fall in 2013
- Shipping is a distressed market and so the perfect investment for vulture funds and shadow banks buying loan books from ‘real’ banks and into distressed companies
Follow this link to see what’s inside shipping’s leaders’ crystal balls. Our favourite is from Angeliki Frangou of Navios: “In the next couple of years, I certainly don’t see a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. The good news of the downturn for the players that are in position to withstand it is that it should flush out some of the pretenders, so to speak, the people that have gotten into shipping in the last few years trying to just jump on a hot market.”