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The Economist

Optimism in the air
COMMENT: Syria aside, there appears to be a sense of optimism in the air about the prospects of the global economy and the growth of trade despite Trump's “America First” policies and disdain for trade agreements, writes Ben Hackett. 05 May 2017 - Port Strategy
Tax and tribulations
COMMENT: There is a lot of speculation about President Trump's Border Adjustment Tax (BAT), but little consensus on what it means, writes Ben Hackett. 03 Apr 2017 - Port Strategy
Ultimate threat to trade
COMMENT: We live in a new global reality where diplomacy is practiced via Twitter if we are to believe President Trump and the Lithuanian Prime Minister. This is, in my view, a very sad state of affairs with Twitter driving populism globally. Today, there is truth and alternative truth; in the old days it used to be just plain lies, writes Ben Hackett. 06 Mar 2017 - Port Strategy
New year heralds change
COMMENT: The world order of things has changed, populism has thrown politics and economics into a new mixing bowl, not necessarily for the good, writes Ben Hackett. 03 Feb 2017 - Port Strategy
Another miserable year
COMMENT: The port and shipping industry really do not have much to look forward to these days. Despite all the recent scrapping of ships of all types, there is still a surplus of tonnage that slack demand cannot fill, writes Ben Hackett. 05 Dec 2016 - Port Strategy
Yet more turbulence ahead
COMMENT: For those who thought that things could not get worse, they will. At the beginning of the year there was optimism by some that 2016 would end up being a good year, however it is hard to see how anyone could have come to that conclusion, writes Ben Hackett. 30 Oct 2016 - Port Strategy
Face up to the stark reality
COMMENT: I have come to the conclusion that economies of scale and the continuous upsizing of ships is leading the way to disaster, writes Ben Hackett. 03 Oct 2016 - Port Strategy
Finding a general purpose niche
COMMENT: In the early days of containerisation ports employed a benchmark ratio that one 1,250 teu container ship (remember that huge size?) replaced four multi-purpose general cargo ships and brought a host of benefits, not least high productivity and low port times, writes Ben Hackett. 05 Sep 2016 - Port Strategy
Pressure on transhipment ports
COMMENT: You would think that as container ships got bigger that we would see fewer ports of call, writes Ben Hackett. 03 Aug 2016 - Port Strategy
Connectivity all the rage
COMMENT: The concept of port connectivity has been around for some time; UNCTAD, for one, has done considerable research into the subject looking at freight rates, number of services, hinterland connectivity and reliable feeder operations, writes Ben Hackett. 14 Apr 2016 - Port Strategy
Batten down the hatches
COMMENT: It seems when things are bad in the maritime industry, they are really bad, writes Ben Hackett. 26 Mar 2016 - Port Strategy
A real threat of recession
COMMENT: The economic signals are increasingly suggesting that the global economy is headed for a recession similar to that experienced in 2001: the economic fundamentals are not very positive and suggest lower growth in the US, the EU and Asia, by Ben Hackett. 22 Feb 2016 - Port Strategy
Feeling the pain in Asia
COMMENT: Global trade for the first eleven months of 2015 has at best been flat, but of those, eight months were negative or had no growth. The next six months are likely to be similar in nature, writes Ben Hackett. 25 Jan 2016 - Port Strategy
Beware of great expectations
COMMENT: The leaders of the major economies are hoping that next year will be better than 2015 is turning out to be as the stock markets crash around us, wars engulf us in more places than can be rushed to and consumers remain wary of their future. However, the signs are not good, writes Ben Hackett. 03 Nov 2015 - Port Strategy
Is Ukraine's optimism misplaced?
COMMENT: Your Economist recently spent two days attending a conference on container shipping and ports in Odessa, where the popular catchphrase is “victory, freedom and peace” in that order, writes Ben Hackett. 10 Oct 2015 - Port Strategy
Economic hurdles remain
COMMENT: Ports and terminals around the world are making major investments in upgrading facilities, building new ones and re-financing what they have. It seems as if there is a general belief that global trade will return to the growth paths seen before the Great Recession and that shipowners will pursue economies of scale to the maximum, writes Ben Hackett. 07 Sep 2015 - Port Strategy
Affordability of economies of scale
COMMENT: Like all things in our world we try to keep up with new trends in order not to be at a disadvantage. In economic terms this is known as comparative advantage, defined as the ability of a firm to produce goods and/or services at a lower opportunity cost than other firms or individuals, writes Ben Hackett. 27 Jul 2015 - Port Strategy
On the brink of change
COMMENT: 2014 was a mixed year for economic fundamentals but little of this impacted the flow of trade, writes Ben Hackett. 29 May 2015 - Port Strategy
Just who's laughing now?
COMMENT: Reading the press since the end of the labour dispute on the US West Coast brings a smile to one's lips. The build-up of the West Coast congestion was relatively slow, as the ILWU and the PMA were locked in negotiations and shippers and carriers worked on how to deal with cargo, writes Ben Hackett. 27 Apr 2015 - Port Strategy
Limits of economies of scale
COMMENT: We have long believed that economies of scale are the saviour of the maritime industry, for all sectors ranging from terminals and bulk, to tankers and containerships. But in the last few months we have begun to hear opinions suggesting that containerships have reached their maximum size. So, wherein lies the future, asks Ben Hackett. 03 Apr 2015 - Port Strategy