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Felixstowe port... is it me or...

Gladys

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...is the level of traffic down? We've taken, since the changes in the exercise restrictions, to walking along the front in Dovercourt, because it's so much quieter than other places. However, during the 8ish hours of walking, we've only seen one ship movement, the DFDS truck ferry going into Felixstowe, and there has been no more than two large and two small container ships.
 

Biggles Wader

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3 Mar 2013
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There has been something of a collapse in world trade in recent months and that is reflected in all aspects of life. There are few aircraft in the sky, and far fewer cars on the roads. Fuel is cheap because no one is buying it. The English Channel has notably less shipping traffic going East/West and the ferry companies have laid off staff because they have cut services. Sooner or later we will all be poorer as a result. Some are already.
 

Old Harry

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There has been something of a collapse in world trade in recent months and that is reflected in all aspects of life. There are few aircraft in the sky, and far fewer cars on the roads. Fuel is cheap because no one is buying it. The English Channel has notably less shipping traffic going East/West and the ferry companies have laid off staff because they have cut services. Sooner or later we will all be poorer as a result. Some are already.
HERTZ have filed for bankruptcy as well
 

Black Diamond

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5 Aug 2009
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West Mersea
I had been waiting for a 20' container of L-Carnitine since CNY, which eventually arrived 10 days ago into Felixstowe. It was whistled through the port short order, and I was offered delivery to West Mersea the afternoon it cleared customs, which is unheard of (call me a cynic, but logistics companies seem to like nothing more than hanging on to boxes for some lucrative penalty rent). That speaks volumes in itself about the lack of throughput in Felixstowe, but what shocked me was that the date of production was 15th January, and the location of the factory was Wuhan (barged down the Yangtze and exported from Shanghai), which heavily suggests Hubei Province was in lockdown before the official date of 25th January.
 

Aquaboy

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20ft container, that's a bloody lot of pills, ....... is everyone sick on Mersea?
 

AntarcticPilot

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Cambridge, UK
There's a big problem with international shipping generally. Crew are generally not allowed ashore when they dock, and even if they were, they can't get flights back to their home country. This results in the normal pattern of crew changes being totally disrupted. The daughter of my wife's friend is a cadet on a bulk carrier. She started out expecting a 3-month spell on a ship doing the rounds of the Indian Ocean. She's currently on her way across the Atlantic, having traversed the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. I can see her ending up doing a circumnavigation! She's not expecting to get back to Hong Kong any time soon. The good news is that her sea-time is getting close to that required to take her 3rd Officer's exams! The bad news is that she is very out of touch - she only has internet access when they're within range of mobile phone signals. I think she does have some regular communication with her mother through the ship's systems, but otherwise, we go weeks without hearing from her. I think the ship is having to go wherever there are suitable cargoes - and of course, there are more ships than cargoes at present.
 

Gladys

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Colchester, Essex
There's a big problem with international shipping generally. Crew are generally not allowed ashore when they dock, and even if they were, they can't get flights back to their home country. This results in the normal pattern of crew changes being totally disrupted. The daughter of my wife's friend is a cadet on a bulk carrier. She started out expecting a 3-month spell on a ship doing the rounds of the Indian Ocean. She's currently on her way across the Atlantic, having traversed the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. I can see her ending up doing a circumnavigation! She's not expecting to get back to Hong Kong any time soon. The good news is that her sea-time is getting close to that required to take her 3rd Officer's exams! The bad news is that she is very out of touch - she only has internet access when they're within range of mobile phone signals. I think she does have some regular communication with her mother through the ship's systems, but otherwise, we go weeks without hearing from her. I think the ship is having to go wherever there are suitable cargoes - and of course, there are more ships than cargoes at present.
Yeah, I've seen similar about cruise ships crews... This is the worst part I think
 

PeterWright

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For some years now, the level of activity at Felixstowe has been a good indication of the state of the world economy. The interesting thing back in the post Lehman Brothers slump (2008) was that Hutchison Ports saw fit to use the lull to expand the port's capacity. No sign of that this time round, so I guess they're not expecting a rapid recovery. Covid-19 coupled with Brexit could leave the UK well behind the curve if and when the recovery starts, but we first have to get this infectious disease under control and reduce the massive rate of borrowing it has incurred.

Peter.
 
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Black Diamond

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5 Aug 2009
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West Mersea
Interesting post, Peter. I agree that Felixstowe has been barometric of our fortunes on the world stage, container boats arriving heavy and leaving light for the last decade and before the 2008 crash. Whatever everyone may think of the lunacy or otherwise of Brexit, my viewpoint as a businessman is that continuation with the process is financially suicidal. My reasoning is this, take the Scandinavian response to Covid-19; Norway, Denmark and Finland have all followed the Franco/German model and effectively closed for business. Sweden has followed the Cummingsesque 'herd immunity' plan, suffered ten times the death rate (some 4000, I believe), but kept their business model open and will presumably emerge the strongest of the Scandic economies in the aftermath. Britain has followed the PIGS model, and is suffering much the same devastation economically and in death rate per capita, whilst I perceive Germany is weathering the storm far better than Britain, or at least that is what the dire current euro:sterling exchange rate bears witness to (guess who has a long sterling position ....). As the year goes on, and a truer comparative picture emerges of the state of the Eurozone and UK economies, coupled with the ongoing Brexit negotiations, I fear our weakening negotiating position will be tantamount to that of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

PeterWright

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Hi BD,

I didn't need to play that clip, I know it so well. Your prediction seems soundly based and just makes me feel less comfortable about our future. We must be from the same era!

Peter.
 
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Concerto

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16 Jul 2014
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Sail on the Medway, Kent from Chatham Maritime Mar
Interesting post, Peter. I agree that Felixstowe has been barometric of our fortunes on the world stage, container boats arriving heavy and leaving light for the last decade and before the 2008 crash. Whatever everyone may think of the lunacy or otherwise of Brexit, my viewpoint as a businessman is that continuation with the process is financially suicidal. My reasoning is this, take the Scandinavian response to Covid-19; Norway, Denmark and Finland have all followed the Franco/German model and effectively closed for business. Sweden has followed the Cummingsesque 'herd immunity' plan, suffered ten times the death rate (some 4000, I believe), but kept their business model open and will presumably emerge the strongest of the Scandic economies in the aftermath. Britain has followed the PIGS model, and is suffering much the same devastation economically and in death rate per capita, whilst I perceive Germany is weathering the storm far better than Britain, or at least that is what the dire current euro:sterling exchange rate bears witness to (guess who has a long sterling position ....). As the year goes on, and a truer comparative picture emerges of the state of the Eurozone and UK economies, coupled with the ongoing Brexit negotiations, I fear our weakening negotiating position will be tantamount to that of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Interesting post. However there is one major difference between the German population and the British population. Last year the Germans saved on average 11.4% of their income, whereas the British save just 0.37%. So many people and businesse have no savings to fall back on and many businesses may fail due to lack of resiliance to the financial stress of closure. So many people and businesses are living hand to mouth and this is our business model to maximise profits - or it should be. If however a business cannot get government financial support, they will almost certainly fail. The unemployment rate is rising rapidly despite the furlough scheme. The outlook for a recession are clearly there and the financial markets have already fallen substantially, but could easily see their value drop still further. Shock announcements like the news of Hertz seeking Chapter 11 protection in the US shows how the hand to mouth policy of running a business can easily be disrupted by events outside their control that are not based on a war. How many other large companies in this country and around the world are in a similar position. Other major changes will happen because of the lockdown ranging from excess office and shop space, depression of house prices due an increase in availablity due to homeowners dying and mortgages becoming more difficult to obtain despite the current extremely low base rates, the increase of the use of internet buying and the increased use of card payments will reduce the amount of cash in circulation, not to mention air travel and holiday.

The current negociations with the EU are at a deadlock and it is highly possible we may not have a trade deal withn the EU. It will make trade more difficult and possibly more expensive with the EU, but we sell less to the EU than we buy, so it will hurt them more. The stress of Covid 19 within the EU is showing how poorly the group of countries have been managed. The free borders have been stopped and the poorer countries hit hardest like Italy and Spain are asking for financial support. However Germany cannot continually bankroll these countries. The end result may be the breakup of the EU. I read yesterday the an opinion poll in Italy has 49% support to leave the EU. Holland is also known to have a large proportion wanting to leave the EU.

My own feeling is the next few years are going to be tough for people and businesses. It is going to be very rocky and some trade around the world will be substantially reduced, so Felixstowe may not run near capacity. We will be living in a new changed world, not as bad as the Black Death, but certainly the worst since WWII.
 

Old Harry

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Isnt the underlying issue one of, how companies are funded here to abroad.#
Here we lease property, tend to pull cash out & run on borrowed money, thereby safeguarding, personnel wealth & leave the risk to the bank.
Hertz were well exposed to high leverage borrowings, the American way.
The Continentals, have historically known hard times, tend to "live over the shop" , so less exposed to external circumstances
 

Tomahawk

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Where life is good
Sometimes it’s about more than just money.
If we just want the cash, we should agree to be a satallite state of China and let the Chinese govern us.
We would get the infrastructure we need and htere would be economic expansion.,

Of course the flip side would need a bit of getting used to. But if it's just about cash those things don’t matter.
 
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