Since Tuesday, the Suez Canal in Egypt has been blocked by the Ever Given, a 400 metre-long container ship that got jammed diagonally into both banks.
The total tonnage shipped through the Canal represents about an eighth of the world’s trade in physical goods. That doesn’t include any part of the trade in services, shares, or financial derivatives – the latter of which alone dwarfs physical trade – but it does account for more than 60% of the goods exported from China to Europe.
Accidents happen. Unusual winds blow. But you’d have to be a nutter to believe that a surprise wind could force a ship to draw a penis, testicles, and bum in the sea. Such a notion is reminiscent of the efforts by a few scientists around 1990 to explain increasingly complicated crop circles as the product of peculiar weather conditions. And in case you were thinking otherwise: this is not a hoax.
The combined number of vessels waiting outside the two ends of the Canal this morning was at 165. Expect this figure to rise.
Edit: Lloyd’s List a few hours ago published a figure of 213, and wrote that “the traffic will continue to build until shipowners calculate that rerouting will be necessary”.