With global stock markets in a downward phase, soothsayers are all looking for signs about the future. Productivity, consumer confidence, the price of crude oil, employment — all these economic indicators are carefully examined by analysts who try to predict the immediate future of world markets.
One lesser known economic indicator, followed mainly by sophisticated market watchers, is the Baltic Dry Index. The Baltic Dry Index tracks how much it costs to ship “dry” goods around the world — things like iron-ore, coal, and grain. (These are sometimes referred to as “dry bulk commodities” or bulk cargo.) The Baltic Dry Index is considered by some to be a true window on the state of the global economy. Business Insider points out that the Baltic Dry Index is currently at an historic low, reminding many of its precipitous drop before both the dot-com crash and the 2008 financial crisis. Others like Zero Hedge also consider that the Baltic Dry’s drop may spell trouble again, though some believe it’s a merely matter of costs plummeting, not a harbinger of a global meltdown.