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The Daily Mail reports there is a vast congregation of empty container ships lying at anchor off the southern coast of Malaysia.

Here, on a sleepy stretch of shoreline at the far end of Asia, is surely the biggest and most secretive gathering of ships in maritime history. Their numbers are equivalent to the entire British and American navies combined; their tonnage is far greater. Container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers - all should be steaming fully laden between China, Britain, Europe and the US, stocking camera shops, PC Worlds and Argos depots ahead of the retail pandemonium of 2009...

It is so far off the beaten track that nobody ever really comes close, which is why these ships are here. The world's ship owners and government economists would prefer you not to see this symbol of the depths of the plague still crippling the world's economies...

The skeleton crews are left alone to fend off the ever-present threats of piracy and collisions in the congested waters as the hulls gather rust and seaweed at what should be their busiest time of year.

The local fishermen have never seen anything like it, and many are spooked by the great rusting hulks lying empty off their shores, filling the entire horizon with a blaze of lights after sunset.

Do not tell these men and women [the world's shipping brokers] about green shoots of recovery. As Briton Tim Huxley, one of Asia's leading ship brokers, says, if the world is really pulling itself out of recession, then all these idle ships should be back on the move.

'This is the time of year when everyone is doing all the Christmas stuff,' he points out.

'A couple of years ago those ships would have been steaming back and forth, going at full speed. But now you've got something like 12 per cent of the world's container ships doing nothing.'...

Some experts believe the ratio of container ships sitting idle could rise to 25 per cent within two years in an extraordinary downturn that shipping giant Maersk has called a 'crisis of historic dimensions'. Last month the company reported its first half-year loss in its 105-year history.

Container shipping has been hit the hardest by the downturn. The situation is worse than the recession of the early eighties, which mostly affected oil shipping. Today, in the globalized market, consumer goods produced primarily in Asia and shipped to markets in Europe and North America are a much more important proportion of international shipping than they were then. The drying up of credit and of consumer demand have caused international shipping demand to fall off a cliff. It's an ominous sign for economies based on consumption that shipping demand is so depressed in what should be its busiest time of year.  

These empty ships should be carrying Christmas over to the West. All retailers will have already ordered their stock for the festive season long ago. With more than 92 per cent of all goods coming into the UK by sea, much of it should be on its way here if it is going to make it to the shelves before Christmas.

But retailers are running on very low stock levels, not only because they expect consumer spending to be down, but also because they simply do not have the same levels of credit that they had in the past and so are unable to keep big stockpiles...

'We will find out at Christmas whether there are enough PlayStations in the shops or not. There will certainly be fewer goods coming in to Britain during the run-up to Christmas.'

The wingers are blaming Obama (of course) as well as Clinton (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae mortgages caused the entire housing bubble and financial meltdown, dontcha know). The eight years between Clinton and Obama were completely vacant apparently and utterly devoid of blame.

Click over to the article for more detail and some great photos.

Originally posted to Alien Abductee on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 12:16 AM PDT.

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