So the Baltic Dry Index (an index that implies what the cost of shipping for exporters will be – in as far as it represents the fees of the people running ships) has collapsed by about 79% so far this year.
As the supply of ships is incredibly inelastic in the short term, this is probably the result of collapsing world commodity demand (although it could be that a whole lot of new ships came online at the same time – unlikely though).
What does this imply for NZ? Well the index mainly represents shipping of “hard commodities” – so it tells us that demand for those has invariably fallen. This implies:
- Soft commodities may have fallen further,
- Growth in Australia will slow – harming our exports,
- Shipping costs (especially for our logs and aluminium) have fallen markedly.
The first two factors are a concern – but the third factor is a bonus. One of the reasons forestry has struggled is that prices have been depressed (no construction in the US!) while shipping costs have been high/shipping has been impossible to get. Now ships will come here – and cheaply, making it possible for forestry to get back on the game.
As log prices are not likely to fall further – forestry will benefit from this. Other commodity sellers may have some trouble (depending on what happens to soft commodity prices).