Dry bulk orders have fallen to the lowest level since the 1990s to 0.4m dwt per month showing a massive 98% reduction from the 23m dwt peak in orders in December 2007, and probably the sharpest decline in recent decades.
Not really a surprise in a market where Capesize bulkers are struggling to earn $4,000/day, but a timely relief to investors with ships on the orderbook says a study paper of Clarkson Research Services Limited.
This investment collapse marks the end of a remarkable phase of bulkcarrier history. During the last decade, 724m dwt of new bulkers have been ordered, around 70m dwt/year. Just to put that in perspective, during the previous decade ordering averaged about 20m dwt/year.
The 5 years from 1996 to 2001 were disappointing to investors, who ordered only 1.2m dwt/month. At the time this was seen as normal, and included a spike in 1999, when investors snapped up Panamax bulkers for $19-$22m.
These were probably the most profitable bulkers ordered in the industry’s post-war history. Upon delivery they sailed straight into the bulk shipping boom. Proof that “crazy investors” are not always crazy.
The spectacular run of dry bulk investment which kicked off in early 2003 has finally ended. Then China’s imports were growing at 27% a year, a big difference from the 3% growth in 2014. This is disappointing, but as serious shipping investors know, in good markets and bad, there’s still an awful lot of cargo that has to be moved around the world – it’s just a matter of who moves it.