Guillaume Vuillemey, 27 September 2020

The maritime shipping industry has been the backbone of globalisation, carrying 80% to 90% of global trade flows. This column shows that over the past four decades, shipping firms are being systematically structured to evade corporate responsibilities. Potential tort liabilities, for example in case of an oil spill, are evaded by registering each ship in a different subsidiary; regulatory standards are evaded by using flags of convenience; and long-term responsibilities related to ship recycling are evaded using so-called last-voyage flags.

Inga Heiland, Karen-Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 17 May 2020

As almost 80% of trade is carried by sea, it is evident that disruptions to sea transport can damage trade flows and disrupt supply chains. COVID-19 containment policies have hit sea transport severely. Many key ports have imposed restrictions on vessels and crew, including prohibitions that have stopped crew changes. Satellite data for ships show that sailings to destinations with crew-change restrictions are down by almost 20% for container ships compared to previous years. More flexible regulations based on screening and discretion are needed to ensure the continuity of freight distribution in order to secure that supply chains do not get a double hit.

Lutz Kilian, Xiaoqing Zhou, 09 November 2017

Global commodity prices surged across the board after 2003, with some observers claiming that this reflected a permanent increase in global real economic activity. This column argues that this was a persistent but transitory phenomena tied to rising commodity demand from Asia. It presents evidence of a global economic slowdown since 2011, with low real commodity prices likely to persist.

Kerem Cosar, Banu Demir, 13 June 2017

Container shipping is considered to be one of the drivers of globalisation. This column uses micro-level data to show evidence that confirms the role of 'the box' in the global economy: it implies significant cost savings and explains a significant amount of the global trade increase since its inception. The results also suggest that most of its trade-increasing effect has already been realised.

Brandon Dupont, Thomas Weiss, 06 November 2016

The transportation revolution of the 19th century opened up new opportunities for migrant and tourist travel across the North Atlantic. While the impact of this revolution on freight cargoes and, to some extent, mass immigration has been well documented, we know considerably less about non-migrant overseas passenger travel. This column presents data on first class ocean travel fares between the US and the UK from 1826 to 1914, and demonstrates how such data can be gathered from various scattered sources and compiled into a reasonably reliable, representative, and informative long-term time series.

Pierre-Louis Vézina, David von Below, 20 January 2016

The price of oil rose to unprecedented highs in the 2000s, and its recent plunge took many by surprise. Although there are many consequences of such price fluctuations on the world economy, they are notoriously difficult to pin down. This column examines the trade consequences of varying shipping costs caused by oil price fluctuations. High oil prices are found to increase the distance elasticity of trade, making trade less global. The recent drop in oil prices could thus be a boon for globalisation. 

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