Shipping is the world’s biggest industry. It is intellectually very difficult to understand because it is so big it is like a vast balloon: you press it in one place and it is going to come out somewhere else. Trade lanes change frequently and today much depends on a simple “Tweet”. The industry is an “economic octopus” with so many variables to contend with and we have an interest in the direction of many different countries, commodities and markets.
But economic uncertainty and disruption have been keeping shipowners awake for decades – I can remember the 1980’s – I had just started work in shipping – it was like parachuting into the aftermath of a hurricane, the sun was shining but there was wreckage all around and the depth and severity of the cycle had been brutal to many shipping companies.... Shipping can be likened to a business with a bunch of guys hanging on a ledge and it’s the ones with the strongest hands who can hold on the longest that survive and is these who ultimately make the most money. It was very much like that again in the period 2008-2013 – history didn’t quite repeat and the reasons were different but the cycle itself had repeated. What is amazing about shipping is how good it is when it goes up and how badly it goes when it’s down. Throughout these cycles what is most important is to keep a good reputation.