Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2522

Market forces can’t contain cargo chaos death match

This article is over 5 years, 4 months old
Issue 2522

Market forces can’t contain cargo chaos death match

The market is a wonderful thing.

The container shipping industry has over 50,000 merchant ships registered in more than 150 countries. They carry as many as 16,000 20ft containers at a time and carry about 90 percent of global trade.

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh largest container carrier, controlled a fleet of 141 ships. They were worth around £1.35 billion and transported more than 100 million tons of cargo a year.

That sinking feeling

That sinking feeling (Pic: New Zealand defence force)

It went bust earlier this year. A decade ago tanker freight rates were in the region of £35 a metric tonne, but this year it dropped as low as £4.

In the face of crippling oversupply some 200 unused container ships idle at anchor around the world.

In addition there are now an estimated 400,000 containers stranded on Hanjin vessels, holding goods worth £11 billion.

Happily Hanjin’s collapse has lifted prices in the market.

One broker explained, “If you’re a ship builder and you have cash, what are you going to do with it? You’ll build more ships—it’s what they do.

“They just keep slitting each other’s throats with lower rates.

“They’re building larger and larger ships to increase their capacity so they can cut costs, but with each larger vessel ordered they’re making the market worse.

“For at least the last five years it’s been a fight to the death.”

May makes a mess of grammars plan

Only one in three people in England back Theresa May’s plans for new grammar schools, according to a poll for The Times newspaper.

It found that just 34 percent backed the plan. Some 25 percent wanted grammar schools closed.

The Times conceded, “Mrs May’s initial efforts to win over the country do not seem to have worked.

“Support for grammars and academic selection was 38 percent in early August, before the plans were set out.”

l A maths quiz for students at one of England’s oldest grammar schools included a bizarre attack on gay marriage.

Boys at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe were asked to calculate the percentage of adults in a town who were married.

The question told them to assume “each marriage is between one man and one woman, as God intended”.

A retired teacher set the quiz.

The head teacher apologised.

Orgreave—police are the real victims

Pity the poor police officers who can’t seriously injure people and frame them for riot without there being a fuss.

The idea of a public inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave, where police did exactly that to striking miners, has wound a few people up.

The National Association of Retired Police Officers (Narpo) is particularly aggrieved.

“Our members are feeling vulnerable,” whined Narpo boss Steve Edwards.

“Quite a lot of them are elderly now and we are concerned about their welfare.” Shame. Support the calls for an inquiry— see lead letter page 9 and go to

lIt has emerged that rubbish train company Southern has been shortlisted for awards for its “hard work and community dedication”, including a Passengers Matter accolade.

Bank was wrong over Leave panic

Was panic whipped up over the alleged dire economic consequences of a vote to leave the European Union? It seems so.

The Bank of England last week admitted it had been too negative about the financial impact of a Leave vote.

Recent minutes from a Bank of England meeting said, “A number of indicators of near-term economic activity have been somewhat stronger than expected.”

Payday loan to payback

Legal loan shark CFO has been forced to repay £35 million for a catalogue of wrongdoings.

The company took money from its customers’ bank accounts without permission, charged them more than they owed, and sent them threatening letters.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) described the firm’s “serious failings” as “unfair behaviour”.

CFO Lending will have to pay an average of about £360 each to 97,000 customers.

The repayments will consist of £31.9 million of debts being written off, and cash refunds of £2.9 million.

Ukip’s Neil Hamilton is doing a good job of keeping the crisis-ridden party in the news.

The Ukip group leader of the Welsh Assembly last week discussed Labour’s electoral prospects at the next general election.

“Labour are going to suffer a holocaust,” said Hamilton. “And I’m looking forward to the blood-letting.”

Want to get ahead with your Xmas shopping? Troublemaker is here to help with a very unusual gift idea—and it’s a bargain too.

You can now buy a mug picturing the famous Foreign Office cat Palmerston, or @diplomog, for just £6.50.

No one will be expecting that on Christmas day.


Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance