The shipping industry tends to do badly when Chinese demand disappoints, but the outbreak of the coronavirus has done more than just damage the amount of cargo that needs to be transported. It’s also preventing many owners from making their ships commercially viable.
Giant Capesize carriers that take iron ore and coal to China are now earning less than $2,600 a day, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. That’s a fraction of what they need even to pay their crew, and 93% below a 2019 peak. Supertankers transporting 2 million-barrel cargoes of crude have collapsed about 95% from their high point last year.