A Case of the Croup … (A reprint of Vol. XVI, Art. 21 … two years ago yesterday.)

As T.E. Raja Simhan so eloquently put it earlier this year, “If the U.S. sneezes, the Asian maritime industry catches cold”.

“Sneezing”? That’s putting it mildly. Here’s what the affliction really looks like:

– REUTERS – GM may be mulling thousands of job cuts.

– American Shipper – UAL posts loss of US$ 2.7 billion; 7,000 jobs to go.

– Business Times – US regulators expect more bank failures.

– Business Times – Hundreds of US banks will fail, says economist.

– Business Times – Greenspan says more banks, institutions may founder.

– Containerisation International – Nine hundred and thirty five trucking companies went out of business in the US in the first three months of this year.

– American Shipper – Economists forecast drop in container volume.

– Daily Breeze – Region’s outlook is bleak for housing, finance and manufacturing.

– rzd-partner – Five Air Cargo Firms Fail as Slowing US Economy and High Fuel Takes Toll.

And “… the Asian maritime industry catches cold”? The ailment is more like pneumonia.

– channelnewsasia.com – Australia’s biggest ports and rail operator, Asciano Group, reporting a net loss of $ 182.1 million for the year, said it may be required to sell some of its assets.

– Saipan Tribune – Garment sector’s decline triggers high shipping costs.

– lloydslist.com – Shipbuilder’s shares fall on news of cancellations.

Speaking of cancellations, how about cancelling plans for our 313-ship navy and replacing it with a fleet of our patented container ships? The navy’s unproductive, unprofitable – and unnecessary – warships cost the taxpayers somewhere around one trillion dollars. Even if our container ships cost $ 50 million apiece, one trillion dollars would provide us with the largest merchant fleet in the entire world … about 20,000 vessels. Right? We’d need to retrofit hundreds of shuttered shipyards and provide employment for millions of the country’s jobless. Anything wrong with that scenario?

[We’d no longer be killing people, however, and some folks might not like that idea.]