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Dry Bulk Shipping and the Evolution of Maritime Transport Costs, 1850-2020

Jacks, David and Stuermer, Martin (2020): Dry Bulk Shipping and the Evolution of Maritime Transport Costs, 1850-2020.

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Abstract

We provide evidence on the dynamic effects of fuel price shocks, shipping demand shocks, and shipping supply shocks on real dry bulk freight rates in the long run. We first analyze a new and large dataset on dry bulk freight rates for the period from 1850 to 2020, finding that they followed a downward but undulating path with a cumulative decline of 79%. Next, we turn to understanding the drivers of booms and busts in the dry bulk shipping industry, finding that shipping demand shocks strongly dominate all others as drivers of real dry bulk freight rates in the long run. Furthermore, while shipping demand shocks have increased in importance over time, shipping supply shocks in particular have become less relevant.

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