This is a pivotal moment for the coronavirus and global supply chains — and all indications are that the situation is headed downhill. Outbreaks in South Korea, Iran and Italy imply that the containment strategy in China has failed to prevent a global spread. Stock markets are plunging.
Assuming the situation doesn’t take a sudden turn for the better, the key worst-case-scenario questions ahead for global supply-chain participants are:
(1) At what point will the hardest hit countries, China foremost, switch from a containment to a mitigation strategy, whether due to economic necessity or because containment is deemed futile? In a mitigation strategy, barriers to inland movements would decrease and factory output and commodity consumption would increase.
(2) Even as some countries switch to mitigation, others would focus on containment. To what extent would trade between the two categories be constrained, given that port workers and pilots of mitigation countries will interact with ship crew who will then interact with port workers and pilots of containment countries? What if ship crew become contagious?
(3) Will coronavirus containment strategies precipitate unforeseen knock-on consequences (for example, debt defaults) that create even more downward pressure on global cargo demand?
(4) What is the risk to the optimistic post-virus V-shaped recovery scenario from: (a) insufficient stimulus and/or demand firepower to fuel the recovery due to higher-than-expected economic damage during the virus period or (b) an inability to eradicate the COVID-19 virus, rendering it a regular component of each hemisphere’s flu season until a vaccine is developed?
FreightWaves coverage of coronavirus
FreightWaves has provided blanket coverage of COVID-19 virus fallout across ocean, air, truck and rail. Here’s a timeline of FreightWaves’ coverage to date:
Feb. 26 — Is worst yet to come for dry bulk shipping rates?: Click here.
Feb. 24 — Q&A with Jefferies analyst Randy Giveans on the plunge in shipping equity valuations and what’s next: Click here.
Feb. 23 — Mexican auto and electronics factories disrupted due to shortfall of parts from China: Click here.
Feb. 21 — Coronavirus to significantly impact U.S. container imports in March: Click here.
Coronavirus timeline infographic: Click here.
Impact on freight and rail rates if coronavirus ebbs: Click here.
Feb. 20 — CargoMetrics data reveals depth of China’s import/export collapse: Click here.
Container giant Maersk comments on coronavirus fallout: Click here.
Airline revenue impact could hit $29 billion: Click here.
Feb. 19 — Coronavirus creates new product-tanker demand as Asia ships excess cargoes to the West: Click here.
Feb. 18 — Coronavirus upends air-freight market, puts premium on charter rates: Click here.
Coronavirus implies binary dry bulk shipping fate: either snap-back or wipeout: Click here.
Virus hit to ocean container freight rates could be capped by lack of demand: Click here.
Virus could completely alter company sourcing patterns: Click here.
Feb. 17 — Reefer plugs full at Chinese ports; containerized frozen-food imports are being diverted: Click here.
Feb. 14 — Impact on global supply chains if ship crews start getting infected: Click here.
Feb. 13 — Shipping execs warn that markets underestimate fallout: Click here.
Feb. 12 — Coronavirus blank sailings could cause capacity shortage for ocean backhaul cargoes: Click here.
Outbreak is pushing U.S. suppliers to find non-Chinese cargo sources: Click here.
Feb. 11 — Ocean shipping execs predict sharp V-shaped rate recovery: Click here.
Feb. 10 — Wall Street analysts warn of intensifying fallout: Click here.
Feb. 6 — Air-cargo providers implement coronavirus protections: Click here.
Lori Ann LaRocco commentary on whether virus will impact long-term trade flows: Click here.
Feb. 4 — Asia-Europe container rates drop due to coronavirus: Click here.
Virus-driven uncertainty for air-cargo carriers: Click here.
Impact on engine manufacturer Cummins: Click here.
Feb. 3 — How coronavirus is driving dry bulk rates to even lower lows: Click here.
Ag shippers want more free time due to virus: Click here.
How virus is hitting oil pricing and demand: Click here.
Vessel crew restrictions as a result of virus: Click here.
Effect on China-centric supply chains: Click here.
Container lines cutting sailings: Click here.
Feb. 1 — How coronavirus may give trucking yet another headache: Click here.
Jan. 31 — Still too early to see effect in container pricing data: Click here.
Airlines increase flight suspensions: Click here.
Jan. 30 — How virus affects tanker shipping stocks: Click here.
Jan. 29 — Air-cargo carriers begin suspending service: Click here.
Jan. 28 — Q&A with economist Paul Bingham on how virus affects global container supply chains: Click here.
Virus begins to sicken the air-cargo sector: Click here.
FreightWaves’ Passport Research on coronavirus: Click here.
Jan. 27 — Virus compelling public shipping owners to adopt more conservative management strategy: Click here.
Virus represents “black swan” event for multiple segments of global ocean shipping: Click here.