When Shipping Overcapacity Meets Falling Demand

The following charts show what happens when an increasing number of ships meets falling demand.

Harper Petersen Shipping Rates by Vessel Size – Ten Years

Source: Harper Petersen

More charts below, but first let’s explain TEU.


TEU stands for twenty-foot-equivalent unit. It’s an imprecise term because lengths are standard but heights are not.  Heights range from 2 feet three inches to 9 foot six inches. The most common heights are 8 feet 6 inches (2.6 m) and 9 feet 6 inches (2.9 m).

Let’s hone in on shipping rates for the last two years.

Harper Petersen Shipping Rates by Vessel Size – Two Years

Harper Petersen Index – Ten Years

Harper Petersen Index – One Year

Something clearly happened in first quarter of this year in terms of shipping demand.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock