Terminal Ailment

Here’s a look at the world’s economic “recovery”.

In Europe:

1. “Merger of Iberia and British Airways confirmed – (08 April 2010) Reuters and other news agencies have reported that the UK’s flag carrier British Airways and the Spanish national airline Iberia signed an agreement to merge the two airlines today.

“The new entity is expected to start operations as planned at the end of the year.

“The two firms, both of which are in the red, expect to gain distinct competitive advantages as a result of this move.”

2. “LDA rejects bid for CMA CGM – Fairplay (April 8, 2010) Louis Dreyfus Armateurs has announced that it is no longer interested in making a bid for troubled French Liner CMA CGM, a company source revealed.”

3. “SeaFrance ‘on the eve of death’ – Fairplay (April 8, 2010) SeaFrance’s chances of survival have been slashed after chairman Pierre Fa today placed the ferry company under the protection of a court of commerce in Paris.

“‘We are on the eve of the death of SeaFrance,’ Fa told French reporters.”

4. “Shipping confidence hits 15-month high, but newbuildings cloud future – SHIPPINGNEWS (4/9/2010) A shipping confidence survey for the next year from shipping tax advisor Moore Stephens’ reveals a 15-month high in confidence, but an overall dampening of spirit on freight rate increases on the back of newbuilding that will upset the supply and demand balance.

“According to its latest report for the diminishing order book, overhang and booming scrappage will make 2010 less tough than anticipated but that green demands will be foisted on the shipping industry with older and less efficient vessels finding it hard to secure charters.

“One respondent said the overhang in tonnage is making for uncertainty with too little finance on offer, with one comment outlining industry unease: ‘There’s only enough cash to fund half the order book, so something has to give.'”

In Asia:

1. “Leviathans get short shrift – Exim India (4-9-2010) With the increased demand for smaller vessels in 2010, the craze for larger ones seems to have waned. The lack of appeal is largely attributed to the volatility in rates caused by the large gap between capacity and trade volumes.”

2. “Hutchinson Port, Cosco Pacific profits decline on world trade slump – Manilla Bulletin (4/9/2010) Hutchinson Whampoa Ltd.’s port unit, the world’s largest container terminal operator, and Cosco Pacific Ltd. posted lowered second-half profits as a global recession damped world trade.

“Hutchinson’s earnings dropped 7.3 percent. Cosco’s net income fell 44 percent.”

3. “Update: Japan export fall casts doubt on trade recovery – Business Times (4/9/2010) TOKYO – Japan’s exports fell in February from the previous month in a sign that a rebound in external demand could start to slow as the impact of subsidies and stimulus measures wane.”

4. “President Akimitsu sees MOL springing up after hunkering down – SHIPPINGNEWS (4/9/2010) Having emerged from a period of retreat by cutting tonnage, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has decided to accelerate to greater profit, according to company president Akimitsu Ashidad.

“‘The containership business, which had no choice but to suffer large deficits due to the severity of the economic recession, is now conserving its strength and preparing to welcome the return of spring through the scaling-back of its fleet size to the minimum required operational level, ongoing cost saving efforts, and making attempts to stimulate a self-sustaining market recovery,’ said Mr. Ashidad.”

In the U.S.:

1. “Intermodal Slows to February Levels – The Journal of Commerce (4/9/2010) Intermodal loadings by the major North American railroads slowed last week to the weakest levels since snowstorms rocked the freight system in early to mid-February.

“For just the largest U.S.-owned railroads, the intermodal shipments fell to 196,257 loads last week from 210,914 a week earlier and were the lowest since Feb. 13.”

2. “Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway cargo levels down in 2009 – International Transportation Journal (05 April 2010) A total of 30.7 million tons of freight were transported on North America’s Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway in 2009, less than in 2008 and the lowest volume since the early 1960s. The decline was attributed to the severe recession and sharp drop in movements of iron ore and steel on the waterway.”

3. “Aker hints at sale of US yard stake – LloydsList.com (4/9/2010) Aker, the Norwegian industrial conglomerate, has suggested that its 50.3% holding in the struggling Aker Philadelphia Shipyard could be divested or used as a tool to negotiate a merger. Aker chief executive Oyvind Eriksen, in an interview, said his group ‘cannot rule out a sale of its stake in or a merger’ for the US yard.”

It’s a ripple effect. An observer from Asia stated in the early days of this recession (with tongue -in-cheek), “When the U.S. gets the sniffles, the rest of the world catches a cold.”

What do you suppose he’s saying now that the U.S. has a “terminal” ailment?