The state of some of the economies around the globe is a major challenge facing the maritime industry this year.
The U.S. economy has been on a declining growth curve for the last several years. After emerging from the trauma of 2008-2009, the economy’s pace of growth has slowed year over year. Unemployment continues in the 8 percent range with 23 million people out of work. Coming out of an election cycle that produced no real change in the balance of power in Washington, recent history would predict several more years of political gridlock and no help to a struggling economy.
The eurozone seems to be in constant crisis, lurching from crisis to potential solution to crisis on a routine basis with no long lasting solution in evidence. Struggling nation states such as Greece and Spain either can’t find or don’t want to accept a remedy for their ailments. Unemployment in some countries hovers around 20 percent for those in their twenties, making the road to recovery that much more difficult.
In Asia, two premier economies, China and Japan, are grappling with dissimilar economic issues. China’s growth has slowed to 4 percent. To those of us accustomed to Chinese growth of twice that number, it represents a large lessening of opportunities. In Japan, growth continues to be stagnant. The lost decade is threatening to become the lost two decades.
So what change would be important to our industry in 2013?
One final note: By the time this commentary is read, the East and Gulf Coast ports could have a new waterfront labor agreement with the International Longshoremen’s Association. If one isn’t in place, all of the drama and angst evident in September 2012 will be visiting us again soon. Prepare for it.