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Shipping update--looking better and better

The Harpex index of container shipping rates in the N. Atlantic has almost doubled so far this year, after having plumbed unimaginable lows. That's a V-shaped recovery in my book, even though rates have yet to regain their pre-crisis levels, and at the very least it severely weakens the bear case for European growth.

Update: At the request of a reader, here is a chart of the Baltic Dry Index, which measures shipping costs for bulk commodities in the Pacific. The index is enormously volatile, and has dropped 40% in past month. But as the chart shows, it is still up significantly from its end-2008 lows. As recently as 2001, today's levels would have been considered almost impossibly high. I think today's reading is consistent with an ongoing global economic recovery.

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