31 thoughts on “Visualizing the Suez Canal Blockage

  1. Barkley Rosser

    I have on this site noted previously that shipping rates had doubled due to pandemic-induced “chaos” in the global shipping system. Apparently this unfortunate event has now led to another doubling of global shipping rates. The supply side of current global economic problems has just taken another major exogenous shock.

    I shall be posting shortly on the deep aspects of this shortly on Econospeak.

    1. Bruce Hall

      Just an aside on this unfortunate situation, but if someone wanted to cripple global trade, some well-place rockets in the canal would do the trick… very asymmetrical. I don’t doubt that this hasn’t crossed the minds of a few and concerned a few heads of state. Iran, for example, has resorted to mining the Strait of Hormuz.

      1. pgl

        Leave it to a MAGA hat wearing clown to suggest this. Hey Bruce – why don’t you just go into the Michigan schools and kiss all the boys infecting them with COVID19?

      2. 2slugbaits

        Bruce Hall The Straits of Hormuz are a lot wider than the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is a few hundred yards wide; the Straits of Hormuz are about 24 miles wide at their narrowest point. So while Iran might like to think it can block the Straits, as a practical matter it would only be a temporary inconvenience won at an especially high cost. As to the Suez Canal, in the event of some serious global crisis in the Mideast, I would expect Israel to have the strongest motive for blocking the Canal.

        1. pgl

          Maybe Brucie Chicken Hawk is thinking about Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous – the two oil tankers there were set afire in 2019. Of course this did not block other vessels from traveling but we know how Bruce gets just about everything wrong.

          Team Trump accused Iran of doing this and threatened military action. Of course Trump was all talk and no action so the chicken hawks is Brucie boy did not their little war.

      3. Baffling

        You may be able to damage the locks, but i bet they have some pretty good air defense systems. The rest of the canal is not really affected by rockets or other external actions. To impede the rest of the canal, you need to infiltrate to block, such as the current ship. That will probably be hard to recreate, at least intentionally.

          1. baffling

            yes, but that does require a more sophisticated attack. a nation state, such as israel or iran, may have the ability. not sure about others, although they certainly could have an impact. there have been rpg attacks on ships in the canal in the past, but this is not enough ammo to really damage a large ship. getting larger amounts of explosive into the area and on a ship is still a rather difficult proposition. but it is certainly possible.

    2. pgl

      Evergreen operates over 150 ships some owned and some leased. This one is leased from Japanese entity even though it is formally owned by an affiliate in Panama. Evergreen’s financials can be found here:


      Their formal ownership of ships amounts to 108 billion Taiwanese dollars while the value of leased ships is near 82 billion Taiwanese dollars.

      Note in 2019 their operating profits were just over 4 billion Taiwanese dollars, which is rather low. The shipping sector has had dismal profitability over the past several years even before the pandemic and this accident.

    3. pgl

      Still looking forward to your Econospeak post. Hope you tell us what series you use to track shipping rates over time.

        1. pgl

          There apparently are a host of measures of shipping costs – many available only for a fee to the organizations they produce these series. I did manage to pull from the public domain information on this SCFI series.

  2. Moses Herzog

    Menzie, are you ready for one of those annoying moments where you wish your students/ blog readers would do their own damned homework for once??? How about putting this graph next to or adjacent to traffic from a week before the blockage or something. I think the red dots imply a bottleneck but we don’t have any “reference point”. If the FAA showed me all the traffic over the USA right now, I’d probably think it looks busy as hell also but there’s nothing connecting that to Suez.

  3. Moses Herzog

    I couldn’t really gauge which post this topic fit into (I guess none) so decided to put it here.

    If you are to believe one of New York’s papers, Eric Adams may be the guy to give Andrew Yang a run for his money in NYC, though it’s obviously still very early. I think some of the criticism of Yang are legitimate criticisms, or have a small thread of truth in them. However I think Yang is overall a very solid guy. I’d get a kick out of seeing him win the Mayorship there:

    I have mixed feelings on some of the criticisms of Yang. I do think that Asians as a group (we’re speaking generalities here, not “absolutes”) tend to be extremely “tight knit” and the “tight-knittedness” (is that a word??) of the Asian community can to “white people’s” eyes appear “insular” or “insulated” in kind of a …it’s hard to word and not have it come across the wrong way, but I think people can get the gist of my point. From Asian people’s view I think they see it as “Why should I/we have to jump through hoops to ‘appear’ ‘more’ American??” and they find it belittling to be expected to wear an American flag T-shirt or something to “prove” something. So I don’t know, it’s just one of those awkward things where it feels like people are walking on eggshells or something.

  4. Moses Herzog

    Stat from Tuesday’s hardcopy NYT: Mercedes Benz sold three times as many cars in China last year as it did in the United States.

    Folks, that is something I think has been referred to as “soft power”, and China is learning fast. Maybe enough for “the student to teach the master”. That means when America asks Germany to help us tag team China to change some of China’s policies, Germany is very apt to tell America “go fly a kite”.

    1. Moses Herzog

      I think there must be a pull down menu with a time function there on the marine traffic site, but I’ll be damned if I can find it. One of the links said it was costing $400million per day.

  5. SecondLook

    The Suez Canal was closed for 8 years (1967-1975) due to the chronic illness of the Middle East.
    I haven’t looked at the literature, but it has occurred to me to wonder how much of a contributing factor was in regards to inflation during that period.

      1. SecondLook

        Supply chain disruptions can quickly become quite serious, given how many companies now operate with just-in-time inventories.

  6. pgl

    “Oil prices — which lost nearly $8/b in the week ended March 20 — were lent some support on March 24 by the blockage to the waterway. ICE May Brent crude futures were trading at $63.90/b as of 1607 GMT, up $3.13/b from its previous settlement.” From SPGlobal/Platts.

    What oil prices were not soaring towards $100 a barrel before this accident? Princeton Steven’s little forecast was the hopes. How much you want to be that this self servicing “consultant” is cheering for the blockage to continue until he can brag about his forecast?

  7. ltr


    March 19, 2021

    How Close Are China and Germany? Consider ‘Little Swabia.’
    The city of Taicang illustrates the tight ties between the countries — and how difficult it could be for President Biden to win allies in his campaign to isolate Beijing.
    By Keith Bradsher and Jack Ewing

    TAICANG, China — German and Chinese flags flutter along tree-lined avenues. Workers are erecting a shopping-and-hotel project with the half-timbered style of architecture more typically found in places like Bavaria or the Black Forest. A nearby restaurant serves Thuringia grilled sausages, fried pork sausages and lots of sauerkraut.

    And in Erwin Gerber’s bakery nearby in Taicang, an industrial city a little more than an hour’s drive northwest of Shanghai, hungry customers can buy a loaf of country sourdough bread or a pretzel baked the way they are made in Baden-Württemberg.

    “Everything you find in Germany,” Mr. Gerber said, “you will find in my bakery.”

    Taicang epitomizes the deep ties between the world’s second- and fourth-largest economies. The Chinese city is so tightly knit with Germany’s industrial machine that some people call it “Little Swabia,” after the German region that the owners of many of its factories call home.

    But the relationship has also raised concerns that Germany has become overly dependent on China. That could be a particularly thorny problem for President Biden, who has made isolating Beijing on trade and geopolitical issues a major part of his overall China strategy.

    In December, Germany played a dominant role in hammering out an initial European Union investment protection deal with China, despite objections from the incoming Biden administration. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has defended the agreement as necessary to help European companies make further gains in China. She signaled in January that she does not want Germany to take sides in a new Cold War, telling the World Economic Forum, “I’m not in favor of the formation of blocs.” …

  8. ltr


    March 27, 2021

    China, With $400 Billion Iran Deal, Could Deepen Influence in Mideast
    The countries signed a sweeping pact on Saturday that calls for heavy Chinese investments in Iran over 25 years in exchange for oil — a step that could ease Iran’s international isolation.
    By Farnaz Fassihi and Steven Lee Myers

    China agreed to invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of oil to fuel its growing economy under a sweeping economic and security agreement signed on Saturday.

    The deal could deepen China’s influence in the Middle East and undercut American efforts to keep Iran isolated….

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