By Ryan Skinner (email)
Today, if you read the headlines of DN (Norway's leading biz daily) in a particular order, or in the correct lighting, or on an empty stomach, you will get the sense of a narrative. I list three stories (one macroeconomic, one shipping and one offshore) that illustrate this narrative.
1. "Worse than people think" - One of Norway's most quoted macroeconomists, Harald Magnus Andreassen of First Securities, believes that recent evidence of optimism among Norwegian consumers and your average Ola, is misled. They are in worse shape than they think.
More to the point, you are underestimating the chances that you are going to lose your job. (basically, the recession is an all or nothing thing; if you haven't lost your job, you chortle about the recession - "recession, ha!". If you do by chance lose your job, the recession is everything - "I don't know what happened!")
2. "Not sure it's all quite that bad" - The shipping boss of the world's biggest shipping bank, Carl E. Steen of Nordea, wonders aloud and in front of DN journalist Bjørn Segrov if the cancellation of newbuildings hasn't gone so far that fleet overcapacity is less of a threat. He acknowledges that the container ship sector will be hammered, that there is much pain in the maritime sector, but...
Steen's clearly a savvy PR operator, as we see here. The market will undoubtedly turn - someday. And, when it does, he's on record predicting it (when everyone else was tearing his shirt and gnashing his teeth). Of course, the market will turn around. This is one thing we know for sure.
3. "Fred.Olsen in Joint Venture" - A subsidiary of the same company that owns Bonheur and Ganger Rolf has teamed up with E.ON and Dong Energy to seek licenses for wind farms in the British sector of the North Sea.
This last was a small notice, almost unnoticable among all the ink grief. Quietly, almost invisibly, shipping is diversifying, investing, adjusting and finding the next thing that will turn a coin. Mind you, Fred. Olsen is hardly alone among shipowners to go this route. Shake Norway's shipping tree and new energy, biotech and real estate projects drop out like November apples. Recessions come and go. Wealth is forever.