Letter Re: Baltic Dry Crashes–Zero Hedge article

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Gentlemen,

The discussion in the Zero Hedge article Baltic Dry Crashes contains a blatant misinterpretation of the use of the AIS system. The author acknowledges that he is not a maritime expert, yet he attempts to use a maritime tracking system as evidence of his already determined conclusion. The reason the referenced map from marinetraffic.com shows no ships in the middle of the Atlantic is that there are no ports there with AIS receivers used to manage port traffic, the source of the data for this site. Using the filters for the map, you can remove ships anchored and in port and see that there are plenty of ships underway. While one might assume that the fact that using this filter removes a majority of ships from the map means that the majority of ships are not underway, this is incorrect. It means that the majority of ships near a port where they are picked up by an AIS receiver are not underway, probably because they are loading/unloading, which is what ships do in ports. I’m no expert on the Baltic Dry Index, but having spent 22 years in the Navy, AIS is something that I am quite familiar with, while this author is obviously not. Word to the wise: understand what the underlying data in any argument means. You can’t just accept an author’s interpretation of that data at face value. – BMS

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