Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Stuck on a ship

Sometimes it's fascinating to muse on how interconnected everything is.  Sometimes it's scary.  Sometimes a bit of both.

I first found out about the South Korean shipping company Hanjin's bankruptcy through this story, about a British artist who is stuck on board one of the ships.  The focus was narrowed down to this single person, who was remarkable mostly because she wouldn't normally expect to be on a cargo ship at all.  And suddenly a business bankruptcy, which would normally be an obscure piece of news to her, is having a big impact on her life.

The next story I read covered a captain and crew of a different Hanjin ship, moored off of Singapore.  Unlike the artist, they had every reason to be on board a cargo ship; they work there.  Except suddenly, they don't.  Now they're featuring on world news.

Moving on from the people involved, the main concern for many companies is the cargo on board.  Shoppers in the USA probably don't spend much time wondering whether their Thanksgiving goodies will be on the shelves or not.  They just kind of - appear, don't they?  This year, they might still be on a container ship in the Pacific somewhere.  Or seized by Hanjin's creditors to scrape some money out of the doomed company.

And now that almost 100 ships are out of operation, the cost of moving goods goes up.  Which means that prices get more expensive, which means customers spend less, which means the all-important economy wobbles a little bit...

Sometimes it's interesting to muse on how interconnected everything is.  Sometimes it's worrying.  And sometimes, you're just sitting on a ship, wondering when you'll get to go home.

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