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Tyler Durden on "Thousands Of Rusting Ship Hulls Are A Fitting Tribute To The Speculative Market Bubble"

Tyler Durdan has an interesting article on ZeroHedge that I found interesting regarding the extremely large number of ships sitting idle worldwide.  His birdseye view pics courtesy of The Daily Mail & Google Maps give a strong visual emphasis on the size of the problem.

Thousands Of Rusting Ship Hulls Are A Fitting Tribute To The Speculative Market Bubble
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/16/2009 13:08 -0500

The Daily Mail recently made waves with a photo exposing what it called the "ghost fleet of the recession" where hundreds of ships were shown on anchor off the straits of Singapore, doing nothing except rusting: a tribute to the unprecedented collapse in world trade, the bulk of which is seaborne, and the huge amount of excess slack in shipping.

"ghost fleet of the recession" - hundreds of idle ships anchored off the straits of Singapore


Zero Hedge decided to probe this idea further, and for that we took advantage of the very useful real time ship tracker functionality provided by (any reader who has Google Earth can easily replicate these results using the following data file).

The results

First we wanted to show how traditionally functioning critical routes are still heavily trafficked, as can be seen by the large amount of green highlights in the following snapshots (green indicates operating ship, red denotes a ship out of spot/charter and currently unused).


Gibralter -

He goes on to give a few other examples of trade routes operating normally, then goes on to document some of the areas with massive numbers of idle ships around the world:

Yet where it gets interesting is when one scours for comparable packets of inactivity as that captured by the Daily Mail. As a first example of just how bad it really is, we recreate the image of the Singapore Strait that is shown on the picture at the top:

Idle ships anchored off the Singapore Straits

What is surprising is how prevalent this pattern is around the globe. Some comparable areas we discovered were the following:

Coast of Britain:

Idle ships off the coast of Britain

Qinhungdao (Chinese coast) - note the pattern that allows any active ships to actually enter the harbor. This is probably not a good indication of the Baltic Dry Index to going up any time soon.

Idle ships off Qinhungdao (Chinese coast)

He gives several other similar examples you can check out at his site linked to above and continues on with:

Dubai: the gateway to the middle east is essentially closed. All that expensive oil, and nobody is transporting it...At least if you look closely you can see some very nice man made islands, that are the only remnants of the great Dubai experiment in recreating the US credit/real estate bubble:

Idle ships anchored off Dubai

Most shocking is the situation around the Bosporus: the transit corridor between Russia and the rest of the world is orders of magnitude worse than even the Singapore case.

Idles ships anchored around the Bosphorus

As for our own back yard, this is the situation in the Gulf of Mexico: a sea of red. One wonders how many of these ships are merely filled with crude, happily waiting for oil to hit $145 one more time.

Idle ships - Gulf of Mexico

The bottom line: world trade has collapsed, shipping lines, once flourishing, have become graveyard archipelagos populated by rusting ship skeletons. Yet all of this is beyond the land, and thus far from sight. Of course, ...
All in all I think he's done an excellent job of giving striking visual evidence of the major contraction in world trade that continues on despite whatever "green shoots" or "V shaped recovery" is allegedly underway.

Disclosure: No positions