GLOBAL CAPITAL: Shipping Industry Sees Signs of Slowing
By Ronald D. White, Times Staff Writer, June 10, 2006
Importers are benefiting from lower freight rates as trade growth cools down and capacity increases. [snip]
"If their ships are full and their business expands, they want to raise the rates," Woo said. "I think the ships are not completely full, and the competition to fill them is fierce."[snip]
Woo's rate cut -- repeated in ports around the globe -- signals choppy waters for the shipping business. The industry had enjoyed five years of rising freight rates. Now, the world's largest shipping line is warning of lower earnings, and maritime experts say economic head winds could bring even more of a cool-down.
"The deluge hasn't hit yet, but we will see more and more vacant space on these ships," said Mark Page, director of research for Drewry Shipping Consultants of London.
Deluge? What deluge...what do container ships with vacant space on board tell us about the state of the economy? Is this `happy news' about lower shipping cost or a dire warning of things to come?
By some measurements, the blistering growth has already begun to lag.
In both 2003 and 2004, dubbed "the super cycle" by Drewry, worldwide trade grew by 14%. The growth rate slowed to 11.5% in 2005 and is expected to drop to less than 10% in 2006 and about 9% in 2007, Page said.
Piers Global Intelligence Solutions, a private data service that tracks imports and exports based on shipping documents, has predicted U.S. import growth of 9% this year and 7% in 2007 and U.S. export growth of 10% in 2006 and 9% in 2007.[snip]
So it isn't all good news. It seems both imports and exports are expected to `taper' off.
"Consumers will have less spendable income," said Guy Fox, a Yorba Linda shipping consultant. "They might take the SUV on a family vacation, but they won't buy the new high-definition television. People will put up with what they have, and that will have a domino effect on the whole economy."[snip]
Ah! The old `domino effect', (which is exactly the danger our economy faces.) Retail is the second largest segment of our current economy. If retailers start folding up (closing unprofitable stores due to a lack of sales volume) the term `economic desert' will take on a whole new meaning.
Why is shipping volume dropping off?
Another factor that could slow shipping growth is that many U.S. and European manufacturers have already moved their manufacturing overseas, bringing a moderating in new outsourcing, said Page of Drewry Shipping Consultants.
Note the `qualifiers' in the above paragraph. Factor that could my backside! This article continues to point to an `over capacity' in the container shipping industry as the primary reason for this sudden downturn in shipping revenue.
This factor in itself begs another subtle question. Is this the end result of there being nowhere left to invest? Trillions of dollars in capital market capacity with no place to go.
What do you invest in when 90 percent of the world's customer base is so cash strapped that they can barely afford essentials? Until there is something truly `new' under the sun there will be no way to `expand' the economy...and capitalism that fails to expand crushes society under it's insatiable appetite for interest on debt.
Desperation is a terrible thing, a factor that has driven military reenlistment to record levels during an extremely unpopular war. Will desperation push people into this?
Cash for kidneys
Legalizing incentives could encourage transplant donations, says a healthy donor.
By Virginia Postrel, VIRGINIA POSTREL is a contributing editor to the Atlantic and the author of "The Future and Its Enemies" and "The Substance of Style." Web site: www.dynamist.com.
June 10, 2006
WHEN Kaiser Permanente forced kidney patients to transfer from the UC Davis and UC San Francisco transplant centers to its own fledgling program, it shortened their lives -- and created a scandal.
But the Kaiser story represents much more than a single health maintenance organization's bad decisions. It reveals a fundamentally broken transplant system, a system that spends its time coping with an ever-growing, life-threatening organ shortage rather than finding ways to reduce or end it.
More than 66,000 Americans are languishing on the national waiting list for kidneys -- 10 times the number of kidneys transplanted from deceased donors each year. And the list keeps growing, with a queue of more than 100,000 expected by 2010.
Kidney patients literally live or die by where they are on the waiting list. While getting progressively sicker, they must spend several hours at least three times a week hooked up to a dialysis machine, the kidney-disease equivalent of an iron lung (it prolongs your life but imposes a physically debilitating prison sentence).
Increasing the supply of deceased donors, while desirable, is difficult -- organ donors have to die healthy and in exactly the right circumstances. But even if every eligible cadaver were harvested, it wouldn't fill the gap. We need more kidney donors, lots more. And they need to be alive.
Need some quick bucks? Here's the answer...and you'll be doing a good deed while you're at it!
Then there is the other side of this rock, the offer of quick cash for healthy organs...for those who can afford to pay.
If you can't afford to buy what you need this proposal doesn't help you one wit.
Ironically the author of this piece states that she donated a kidney (gratis) to a friend in need...which makes this piece that much more troubling.
Have we really sunk so far that we won't help one another without a financial incentive?
That said, I think it's prudent to mention that there has long been a thriving black market for healthy organs, an unsavory situation such a proposal would feed.
Creating a cash market for healthy organs acts as a disincentive to those inclined to donate them for free. Why give away a `commodity' worth a ton of money to people who desperately need what you have to offer?
The author of this piece `laments' that even discussing this `sensible' option is taboo...for very good reason as it serves to `commodify' human life...how safe would you feel walking down the street knowing you're worth more in body parts than your car is?
If this is where `everything has a price' capitalism is leading our society I say it's time we sweep it all away. I'm not raising children to become some one else's spare parts depot.
Thanks for letting me inside your head,