The world's biggest shipping company says global growth is even worse than anyone thought

The CEO of the biggest shipping company on earth is pretty much as exposed to global growth as anyone gets, and he’s got a worrying message for the world.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Moeller-Maersk CEO Nils Smedegaard Andersen suggested that consensus forecasts for global growth are still too strong, despite already being trimmed from more optimistic levels earlier this year.

Just days ago the company announced that it was slashing 4,000 jobs, reporting a major profit slump.

Here’s a snippet from Bloomberg:

“We believe that global growth is slowing down,” he said in a phone interview. “Trade is currently significantly weaker than it normally would be under the growth forecasts we see…

“We conduct a string of our own macro-economic forecasts and we see less growth — particularly in developing nations, but perhaps also in Europe — than other people expect in 2015,” Andersen said. Also for 2016, “we’re a little bit more pessimistic than most forecasters.”

Andersen doesn’t see an all-out crisis, but it’s a depressing appraisal of the state of the world economy seven years on from the financial crisis. Economies like the UK and US are seeing relatively solid growth, but the eurozone is still expanding at a modest pace at best, and expectations for growth in emerging markets have been seriously pared back.

It’s been rough to be exposed to global growth over the last few years.

World trade values were practically stagnant between mid-2011 and mid-2015, disconnecting from the pre-2008 trend. Since then, they have slumped:

That’s consistent with what’s happening in the Baltic Dry Index right now — the index measures the cost of shipping commodities in bulk — so a spike means a surge in demand, or a sudden disappearance of supply (the actual ships), while a decline means the opposite.

The index never returned to anything like its pre-financial crisis highs, but it’s still tracked in terms of which direction it’s moving as a barometer of global trade.

Though it hit historical lows earlier this year and hasn’t quite touched them again yet, Zero Hedge notes that the index has never been lower in November.

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