Unlike those of Nostradamus and the Delphic Oracle, my tongue in cheek predictions come with a warranty of complete reliability. Here they are, for 2016:
- The scrapping of containerships will gather speed and scope, but the boxship glut will still hang over the industry at the end of 2016.
- The considerable supply of redundant former shipping company executives, caused both by sacking and the growing number of bankruptcies, will reach crisis levels, causing a severe shortage of bench space in municipal parks across Europe, Asia and North and South America.
- The further closing of Chinese shipyards, the collapse of the renminbi, and China’s declining consumption of raw materials, will result in a growing outflow of desperate employment-seekers from that country. North Korean leader Kim will respond by sealing his country’s border with China.
- The European parliament and the EU Commission, spurred by Greenpeace, will demand an absolute end of all diesel engines on seagoing and riverine vessels by the year 2025. In an effort at compromise, the European Shipowners’ Association will offer to accept a gradual phase-out of diesels in European-flag newbuilds, starting in 2020. This proposal is summarily rejected by the EU, which points out that there are unlikely to be any such ships in existence by that date.
- The Baltic Dry and Capesize indices having fallen to single digits, the famous Exchange for which they and other things are named announces (in early April) its sale to a syndicate of unidentified investors based in the Kaliningrad oblast (province) of the Russian Federation. It is noted by the Exchange’s incoming chief executive, the daughter of Russian president V. V. Putin, that the relocation of the Exchange to a site actually located in the Baltic region marks a welcome and long overdue return to the historic antecedents of the venerable institution. As to the Exchange’s now-redundant London staff, Ms Putina informs the Russian press that a fortunate few may be offered “relocation packages” to Kaliningrad, but that the alternative, bench space (see no. 2 above) is, she understands, in short supply. As she put it in putting on her floor-length sable coat, “Let them try Singapore”.