Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Baltic Dry Index

The Baltic Dry Index, a traded index of shipping costs for raw materials, is according to Wikinvest "one of the purest leading indicators of economic activity. It measures the demand to move raw materials and precursors to production, as well as the supply of ships available to move this cargo."

It's the kind of indicator that is only used by pros, and only used when what it may be indicating is convenient to the argument at hand. As you can see in the 1-year chart above, if you have a short-term time frame, the index is rolling over after making a big move off the November/December lows.

If you're thinking longer term what has been going on over the last two months is probably noise. The index put in a double top from October 2007 to May 2008 then declined by over 90% over the next six months.

It's actually trading a little like a bank stock, in that it is still up over 100% from its recent low. The world needs more leading indicators. It may be that this one is too volatile to be in common use.

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