Saturday, May 3, 2008

International Trade and Big Container Ships

The Colombo Express, one of the largest container ships in the world, owned and operated by Hapag-Lloyd of Germany- Photo from Wikipedia

How big are today's biggest container ships? Specifications such as length, beam, horsepower are easy to come by, for example the largest, the Emma Maersk, here, what about economic impact? Economist Paul Krugman in an article called The World is Lumpy discusses a paper by David Hummels which claims:
"The capacity of a modern container ship is large relative to the export volumes produced by smaller countries...."
Evidently these ships are big enough to cause problems for the Eaton-Kortum model of international trade - The explanation is from Krugman again, here.

They are also so big they may cause changes in shipping routes on the U.S. East Coast because of the Bayonne Bridge - According to Star-Ledger article called “A Bridge Too Low.“ (via Tugster post Bayonne Barrier):
"But there's one problem for the shipping terminals in Newark and Elizabeth: the Bayonne Bridge, which spans the entrance to the port's largest terminals. It is too low for the huge ships to sail under."
Ships have always been a major influence in nations economies, these big ships change the scale.

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