First International

Commentary & Opinion


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Keeping a close watch

  - Monday 22nd April 2013 - NON-LETHAL deterrent WatchStander was unveiled in September last year, and this year has seen its move into the market boosted with the appointment of Robert Toney as Chairman and Paul Slater as Chief Operating Officer, joining founder, David Rigsby, and retired US Navy Admiral Mark Fitzgerald on the management team.   WatchStander is a new system that fully automates and integrates the anti-piracy process, from detection to identification...


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Why distress buyers may get bitten

 - Monday 22nd April 2013 - Rates could stay at rock bottom as the cost of operating and maintaining ships soars. NOW we have passed all the seasonal holidays from Christmas, the west’s new year, Chinese new year, Passover and Easter, the various excuses for optimistic or pessimistic changes in freight rates are over for a while.   The fact remains that there are far too many ships in most sectors to support any lasting recovery in the freight markets. Moreover,...

Grim outlook continues for shipping

- Tuesday 13 November 2012 - THE third quarter of 2012 has come and gone and various public company reports show the financial results continue to worsen.As I have said many times, shipping economics is primarily driven by the economics of its customers, the ups and downs of world trade and the macroeconomics of nations for which shipping is an essential service to support their industries.It is shipping’s ability to respond to these changes that preserves its vitality, but when...

Shipping economics just get worse

- Tuesday 9 October 2012 -THREE-quarters of this year have now passed and it is clear that all major sectors of the shipping industry continue to lose money.Perhaps more worrying are a number of developments that will prolong these depressed markets further.The principal problem that the industry faces is an enormous shortage of equity and the burden of the huge debts it incurred in ordering and taking delivery of large numbers of expensive ships without any specific employment.The cargo...

Look to the skies for a solution

- Tuesday 28 August 2012 -SUMMER is nearly over, the kids are back in school and winter will be upon us all too soon.Unfortunately the shipping industry has been stuck in winter for several years and now faces a period that could present the final tipping point for many companies.Freight markets both wet and dry are now hopelessly over-supplied with ships of a historically young average age, while the demand for cargo movements continues to decline.Yet still ships are being ordered, with the...

Debt and the price of money

- Monday 13 August 2012 -SHIPPING is immersed in debt, as banks supported the rush to order new ships at ever-increasing prices, even when the Chinese boom had gone into decline.Shipping is today grossly over supplied with ships of a young age, while the market for their services has declined and will remain so until the global economic issues are resolved, which will take many years.The principal reason for the financial crisis is that all the markets over the past decade were fueled more...


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Why shipping executives need a return to reality

- 19th July 2012 - Recent statements by some of the top bosses bear little resemblance to what is actually happening in the marketWE ARE in the middle of one of the worst shipping markets in living memory and the realistic outlook is for worse to come.So let us briefly consider a few of the most recent utterances from the heads of public shipping companies and test them against the reality of the market.OSG chief executive Morton Arntzen led the way at Posidonia, with an extraordinary attack...


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Parties, politics and pirates

- 1st June 2012 - There will be plenty to talk about in Athens this year, but Greece itself may need its maritime community to come to its rescueTHE gathering in Greece is upon us again. Posidonia is more of a party than a commercial convention. Little or no business is conducted during the week-long gathering and most people go to have a good time.Greek shipowners, most of whom do not live in Greece, are reluctant to hold lavish parties. Not because of the terrible state of the shipping...


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Do public shipping companies have any real equity left?

- 18th May 2012 - To recover, the industry needs smaller, more efficient players to emergeIN MY previous articles, I outlined the current problems facing the shipping industry and suggested that the great shipping recession will continue for several more years.I also suggested that most of the shipping banks had contributed to the debacle through irresponsible lending and were now struggling to extricate themselves as asset values continue to decline.It is astonishing that lenders and...


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Slater on Money

- April 2012 - The Great Shipping Recession continues2012 will arguably be the 5th year of the Great Shipping Recession and many are asking “How long is this going to continue?” and “What can we do to prevent it from getting worse?”I would add to these questions one more important one, “What needs to be done to re-balance the industry and return it to profitability?”The published results of QI 2012 that have been delivered, alongside the final results...


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Slater on Money

- 20th March 2012 - Charter rates are not going to get back to anywhere near the boom rates of the last decade and that means a large number of new ships will remain uneconomicTHERE is much discussion these days about the outlook for shipping over the rest of this decade as the results for 2011 continue to reveal that companies in all sectors are continuing to lose money and the equity values of most of the public companies are at all-time lows.I have long felt that the shipping industry...


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Results are a mess of our own making

- 17th February 2012 - Shipping can rise from the doldrums only if it learns from past mistakesThe results of public shipping companies for the year 2011 are about to be revealed, but there will be few positive surprises as the wet and dry charter markets havecontinued to be unprofitable through the fourth quarter of 2011 and, in many cases, have worsened since.Before we forget, the charter rates for fixtures made in the fourth quarter of 2011 will appear in the owning company’s...

A false sense of security?

SIZE is a compounding factor in cruiseship safety.The whole tragedy of Costa Concordia has been followed by all types of media and will no doubt continue to play out for some time to come. It has brought back to me an experience on a sistership a few years ago that has worried me ever since.My wife and I boarded Costa Magica in Ft Lauderdale for a week’s cruise around the Caribbean, my wife as part of a group and me along for the ride.We had not been cruising before, although we had...

Putting the squeeze on ship finance

THERE have been many messages over the holiday period relating to banking and its future in today’s world.The primary concern has come from the sovereign-debt crisis faced by all countries in the eurozone and related losses from the Greek default, and from the huge funding problems that other eurozone countries face.As the credit ratings of many of these countries have been downgraded, so the value of their bonds held mainly by eurozone banks has declined and the cost of any new...

Results are a mess of our own making

THE results of public shipping companies for the year 2011 are about to be revealed, but there will be few positive surprises as the wet and dry charter markets have continued to be unprofitable through the fourth quarter of 2011 and, in many cases, have worsened since.Before we forget, the charter rates for fixtures made in Q4 2011 will appear in the owning company’s results for Q1 and Q2 of 2012. With all the BDI indexes dropping to their lowest levels in history and some shipowners...

When the dominoes fall

SHIPPING, as I have stated many times, has little or no influence on the international trade that produces the cargoes that creates the demand for shipping services.However, shipping can open up new markets and provide the supply chain for raw materials and finished goods. This supply chain opened Asian trade in the 19th and 20th centuries and enabled oil to move from remote parts of the Middle East and Asia to the centres of industrial and economic growth in Europe and the US.Shipping...

No turkey for shipping stocks

Paul SlaterTuesday 29 November 2011A WEEK is a long time in politics and two weeks is an eternity in shipping. Certainly the last two weeks up to Thanksgiving.The workings of the US bankruptcy system are playing out in full public view as Omega and Marco Polo jostle with creditors in the courts of Houston and New York.Two new Chapter 11 filings were recorded. Trailer Bridge, a small barge operator founded by container pioneer Malcom Maclean, serving the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico,...

Spot market forces plague shipping groups

By Robert WrightWhen BW Maritime, one of the world’s biggest shipping groups, revealed early last week that it had laid up one of its oil tankers, it was a moment with many historical echoes.Folk memories in the world’s shipping industry of the worst industry slumps often revolve around lurid tales of how ships spent months or years moored in fiords or up rivers. Confirmation that owners were once again accepting that some vessels would be unemployed for the foreseeable...


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The bitter medicine shipping must swallow

Changing management and dismantling outdated strategies is what is required if shipping is to recover. The decline in freight ratess from the dizzy heights of five years ago means many shipping companies are running at daily losses once operating expenses, overheads and dept service are taken into account.   Click the link to download the full article. Article: The bitter medicine shipping must swallow Lloyds List  


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This time is different

With cheap debt no longer available and demand for shipping services at risk from the downturn, the industry must brace itself for some turbulent weather. Download article here. Source: Lloyds List, 7th October issue.

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