David Jacks, Martin Stuermer, 18 April 2021

As the recent past has shown, maritime transport costs are subject to wide swings. This column analyses a large new dataset on dry bulk freight rates from 1850 to 2020, when maritime transport costs fell 79%. Turning to the drivers of booms and busts in the dry bulk shipping industry, it finds that shipping demand shocks dominate both fuel price and shipping supply shocks. Shipping demand shocks have increased in importance over time while shipping supply shocks have become less relevant.

Richard Pomfret, 02 May 2018

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has the potential to extend the Eurasian Landbridge to include both the current China-Poland mainline to western Europe and a China-Istanbul mainline with spurs to the Middle East and North Africa. This column, the second in a two-part series, outlines the history of the initiative and argues that future construction on the network could be a major step towards Eurasian integration and greatly improve rail's competitiveness relative to air for time-sensitive shipments.

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.

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