The financial news continues to confound and confuse investors. The Fed is telling one story. The world economy is telling another.
Perhaps a retail coals-in-the-stockings Christmas will awaken the mainstream media to the reality that recession is now a global phenomenon.
Spot rates for transporting containers from Asia to Northern Europe have crashed a stunning 70% in the last 3 weeks alone. This almost unprecedented divergence from seasonality has only occurred at this scale once before 2008!
Having fallen for 20 straight days, crushing the hopes and dreams of the mid-year bounce - and thoroughly breaking down from seasonally positive tendencies - The Baltic Dry Freight Index has collapsed to all-time (back to 1984) record lows. As on shipping broker exclaimed, “This market is looking like a disaster and the rates are a reflection of that. It is looking scary for the market and it doesn’t look like there is going to be any life in the market in the near term.”
The Baltic Dry Index staged a recovery mid-year, hopefully rising amid promises of stability in China and an 'escape' velocity USA. All that centrally-planned hope and hype faith has been eviscerated on the altar of economic reality. With no ability to directly manipulate the Baltic Dry Index to 'pretend' everything is awesome, it remains among the best 'real' indicators of the state of the global economy... and it's in the toilet...
2015 has been an 'odd' year. Typically this time of year sees demand picking up amid holiday inventory stacking and measures of global trade such as The Baltic Dry Index rise from mid-summer to Thanksgiving. This year, it has not. In fact, it has plummeted as the world's economic engines slow and reality under the covers of global stock markets suggests a massive deflationary wave (following a massive mal-investment boom). At a level of 631, this is the lowest cost for Baltic Dry Freight Index for this time of year in history.. and within a small drop of an all-time historical low.
Global Trade In Freefall: China Container Freight At Record Low; Rail Traffic Tumbles, Trucking Slows DownSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/04/2015 17:42 -0500
Trucks, Trains and now Ships: suddenly everything seems to be in freefall.
Since the mid-July peak, when Jim Cramer warned the market's "last shred of hope was the freight index holding up," The Baltic Dry Index has been in free fall (at a time with very positive technicals). In fact, today's drop to 809 is the lowest in over 3 months and the lowest for this time of year since 1986!!
"Softer growth prospects for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and India, and a slow recovery in the major industrial economies, will combine to push growth in developing Asia for 2015 and 2016 below previous projections."
"It’s fairly obvious that we reached peak trade in 2007"...
Three weeks ago, "something just snapped." Now, it is getting worse by the day.
It appears that the recent spike in shipping rates was analogous to the dead cat bounce in crude oil prices: a speculator-driven anticipation for a sustainable rebound that never took place. And now, just like with crude prices, it is all crashing down.... again. According to Reuters, shipping freight rates for transporting containers from ports in Asia to Northern Europe dropped 22.8 per cent to $400 per 20-foot container (TEU) in the week ended last Friday, data from the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index showed.
"The transition from investment to consumption in the Chinese economy, together with a shift towards cleaner energy sources, has caused a sharp deceleration in dry bulk trade. After expanding at an average annual rate of 7% over the period 2005-14, seaborne demand in iron ore, thermal and metallurgical coal is set to increase by only 2% in 2015 to 2.5 billion tonnes as these trends persist," Goldman says, before warning that freight rates aren't likely to recover until at least 2020.
While global equity markets hover near record-er highs, global GDP growth expectations have erased their February dead cat bounce hopes and tumbled back towards cycle lows. This is all confirmed by the latest data from Goldman Sachs whose Global Leading Indicator remains mired in "contraction" for the 4th month in a row...
And against this disatsrous backdrop… investors are completely bullish!