November 26, 2004

Apocalypse Later

A fascinating view into the cogs of global trade from the eastside point of view, care of the New York Times. Kinda cool how they design the container ships to exactly fit through the Panama Canal's locks with not even a meter to spare. Still faster to drop things off in LA and ship to New York by rail, but only by a couple of days, and ships can carry a whole lot more bulk. Although on the return trip to China most of what they'll be shipping is empty air.

And so far, the mounting Asian trade has been largely a one-way affair. After unloading 1,120 containers from the Glory, the longshoremen reloaded the ship for the return trip. Of 667 containers to be sent back, 419 were empty, being returned to Asia to carry more goods back to the United States. Of the rest, most were stuffed with two of New York's biggest exports: wastepaper and scrap metal.

Most people seem to have forgotten, or never knew, that trade and other assorted deficits are bad in the long term. Economists haven't, though, such as Steven Roach, who's apparently predicting the Doomsday Scenario for his top clients. Considering that the man's the head economist at Morgan Stanley, some big money may well be ready to bolt for the exits very soon. Of course, in his publicly-accessible comments he backpedals furiously away from the cliff, but even then the best he can spin it is a slow but continuous decline in the dollar and/or rise in interest rates. We really ought to get dad to dump that bond fund.

Posted by mikewang on 08:10 PM