“what do you think about the market?”

Shall we talk a bit about the handy market to start with? yes sure, as mentionned in the report attached (or info gathered here and there), to give you some guidance :

    • 38’000dwt done at $7’000 daily for a quick Baltic to continent trip
    • 38’000dwt open continent discussed at or so $11’000 for trip to East (fertilisers to India ?)
    • Scrap charterers offering $8000 daily on a 32’000dwt ship open Uk to end up in EMED
  • Ex BLSEA,
    • 38’000dwt talking $7’000 for a trip to USG
    • 34’000dwt ex blsea to tunisia is gone at $9250 (surely with grains)
  • Ex ECSA
    • 33’000dwt fixed and failed at $7’000 daily for a trip to med.
    • 39’000dwt gone at $10’000 daily + $165’000 bb dely paranagua redel Djibouti
  • USG
    • 34’000-dwt ex USG gone to SAFR $9,000 daily.
  • WAFR
    • 34kdwat modern open abidjan done aps Conakry to blsea in the $4’000 daily
  • ASIA
    • 34’000dwt dely surabaya to India with logs gone at $6’400 daily

Inviting you also to read in the Bmti the page 2 and 3 with the « global system thinking » (for the lucky subscribers). It reminds me Opec meeting and the prisonner’s dilemma : at the end, at the end everyone will choose the best for themselves, see also here.


Now this being covered, let’s talk about important things: EISBEIN.

Below few tips to survive to Eisbein (or in general -to shipping events-) or the do’s and the don’t in cocktails or how to handle THE question :

« What do you think about the market ? »

Here you go, you’ve been waiting for this particular time of the year for ages (12 months which seemed to you being like a century) and it’s NOW, the Eisbein week.

You spent days and days planning your agenda once there.

  • Meet Paul,
  • meet Patrick
  • don’t forget Fiona
  • what about Oliver and Jan
  • Pay a visit to A1brokerage

On average you have 10 planned meeting per day, either formal or unformal -you know your Company is making lots of sacrifices to send you there, to be The representative. You don’t want to disappoint anybody, furthermore, you’ve been in the business for 3 years, and the only business trip you’ve made was to walk to the grocery the other side of the street as the office were running out of coffee.

Slim suit, white shirt, red tie (to look like Trump), bit of Pento (to look like Henry Winkler), business cards in the left pocket of your jacket (the right one ? is dedicated to the business cards you’re collecting), bit of cash…you’re ready and now it’s time to shine, if you can.

Pretty quickly (basically at your first appointment, on which you arrived 30 min later than scheduled), you’ll realize your planning will simply not match and you won’t be able to make all of them.

Two options :

Option 1 : get stressed, start to apologize about being late, refuse the beer proposed by your host (yes in Hamburg (or any shipping events), at 9.30am, you get proposed a beer), wrap up quickly this meeting and rush to your second one, which is the opposite side of the city, bother the ladies in the office, asking for a cab (until you realize, the lady, is the boss).

Option 2 : enjoy the beer, ask for a 2nd one, take your time to discuss with your mates, take advantage of being here to introduce yourself to other fellows coming in and send discretly a text message to your second meeting, that you won’t be able to make it. But no big deal, tell him « we’ll catch up at Elysee tonight ».

If you’re not too shy, by now, it’s already 11.00am, you should have collected something like 24/25 new business cards. You can sort them in 3 categories

  1. The ones you were looking for
  2. The good surprising ones (you were not expecting to meet Bruno, but he is here)
  3. The « who the hell is this guy again? and please remind me what’s his activity in shipping ? »

Here again you have various option on how to deal with these business cards. For sure, whenever you’re facing this little and cute ceremonial consisting in exchanging business cards, you have to pay attention at least for 5 seconds on the document which has just landed in your hands. (Note 1/ these five seconds have to become 2 minutes if your new friend is from Asia (and don’t forget to gently bend over once or twice), note 2 these five seconds can also become 30/45 seconds (or so) if your new friend is blond with a nice dress (in this case, absolute max is 45seconds to screen her business card, you don’t want to be perceived as the french pervert of the industry, do you ?) What if she’s blond and from Asia ? Come on don’t be moron, everybody know asiatics have brown hairs.

So, how to deal with the business cards ?

For sure don’t sort them on site. Wait to be at your hotel room, while doing your « daily report remotely to your boss » to file them and why not put some comments on each of them with your Mont-Blanc. Keep these cards in your room and make sure you bring them all back to the office. Your boss will evaluate how successful was your Eisbein trip by checking how many business cards you brought back.

What you should talk about during these cocktails and parties ?

Sooner or later, you’ll get questionned this tricky question and you’ll have no way to escape.

-« So, what do you think about the market ? ».

Back in 2007, it was an easy question, you just had to reply « Market is crazy » and you were gone with this one. Almost 10 years after, you can still try to reply « Market is crazy » but afraid it won’t be enough. And I think there is not only one suitable answer. You need to have defined in advance your strategy and your replies, which will vary depending on who’s asking you this question. In summary I think you have 4 scenarii in front of you.

  1. The question is asked by an Owners : in this case, you have to show full empathy, complain about the poor rates, complain about other Owners not scrapping enough their ships and then you also shall do just enough of show off, saying that luckily you have been working hard in the last years to secure direct, exclusive niche charterers and thanks to this hard work and great network you managed to make up your way. You shall conclude, « whichever the market, together we’ll be stronger… » the day after your Company shall be added in the circular position list from the Owners.
  2. The question is asked by a charterers : in this case, you can have a laugh about the market situation, tell him you see no recovery in the next years BUT still (and take a scary face) a full recovery does not mean he is safe all year long. He shall be careful about seasonality, about bunkers up and down, about the new IMO’s rule (drop some acronyms specific to Shipping, he will be impressed) and he shall make sure to have the right network to remain on the safe side. Conclude by whispering him, you, your side, you have a great network of supportive owners, niche and reliable ones, conclude with « whichever the market, together we’ll be stronger… » If you’re not that bad, the day after, your company shall be part of this charterers panel.
  3. The question is asked by one of your competitors : remain evasive and short in your reply, do some name dropping, to show how well connected you are. But of course don’t disclose any of the names of your lovely niche exclusive principals. Conclude with « sorry, I have to take up this phone call, I’m on a COA which I’m just about to finalize » (Most important point here is to make your competitor feel like a losy guy).
  4. You’re in a group of various people, you don’t really know who’s who, then say nothing, unless the question is specifically asked to you. In which case say something which is obvious and ending with a question mark like « it’s been as it is for too long, when will we see the change ? » and while putting down the question on the table, look at the sharp guy, the one with the Hermes tie and big golden chronograph. Be sure, he’ll be so happy to share with you all all his thoughts about market and what’s to be done to adress the situation. you’re at the beginning of the 10 most boring minutes of your business trip. But this is part of the deal. A 10 minutes monolog, with your sharp shipping expert of the day. However remain attentive, his talks might help you when you’ll be ask the same question at your next cocktail party.

Sooner or later, you’ll also be asked some other strategic questions, namely :

  • « when did you arrive ? »
  • « in which hotel do you stay ? »
  • « How did you come in ? »
  • « when do you leave ? »

Don’t feel obliged to reply to these questions, don’t believe neither the proposed replies below are ideal to socialize.

  • « when did you arrive ? » —> « 5 min ago »
  • « in which hotel do you stay ? » —> « why do you want to know, are you gay ? »
  • « How did you come in ? » —> « I chartered a Panamax »
  • « when do you leave ? » —> « now, bye bye »

What if you end up in a cocktail party, and you feel very lonely, you don’t know anybody ?

3 options :

  • Go to the buffet, ask for a beer and start the conversation with the guy next to you asking for a Vodka tonic. Catch phrase to open the conversation ? « alcohol is a good way to survive in this market, by the way, what do you think about the market ? »
  • If nobody close to you, with your beer, go to the lonely guy, just like you and start the conversation. He’ll be pleased to share his thoughts about the market and not being on his own anymore (as pleased as you probably)
  • If nobody is lonely, take you smart phone and open the Pokemon Go app, you’ll surely find a rare Pikachu in the area.

With all the above tips, I think you’re on the safe side and I see absolute no reason why your business trip shall not be a success…unless you’re getting completly wasted at Elysee.

Disclaimer :

The above is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.


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