All evidence is currently signaling that the Chinese stock market will be the newest hurdle for the global economy.
With the world's second-largest economy's stock market facing massive problems over the past six weeks, the Chinese government has taken various measures (including pouring almost half a trillion USD via state-owned financing entities and suspending IPOs) in an effort to stabilise the current situation.
However Monday's drop of ~8.5%, the largest drop recorded since February 2007, with commodity companies and consumer firms having felt the brunt of the decline, shows that these measures have been lackluster at best or that the problem is that much larger than expected; both equally problematic conclusions. Various researchers are now predicting further substantial drops in the coming weeks.
This has fueled worries concerning the growth prospects of the Chinese economy which, given its influence on shipping via imports/exports, is sure to be felt by ship owners globally.
The June 12th peak signaled the start of a decline which has no visible bottom. The rout has to date wiped out almost four trillion USD in market value and while corrective measures did result in a +12% rally, the stock market has slumped once again, making this positive correction rather short. While the Chinese government has committed to stabilising the situation, investor confidence is currently being shattered, as correctional actions have been largely ineffective, which is exacerbating the problem. With no certain idea of when, or indeed how, the situation might be stabilised, this is certain to have an adverse effect on the wavering Chinese economy as a whole.
China's economy has been slowing down for quite a while. As a result, growth prospects are being revised to lower levels, which should also have a major effect on imports / exports specifically in regards to crude oil/refined petroleum, iron ore, steel and soybeans. The various shipping routes to China are sure to feel the pressure on their respective freight rates. This could very well push various ship owners to choose different trading routes at less-than-desirable levels in order to compensate.
With the dry bulk market currently enjoying some long-awaited improvements on rates, this upset could yet again drive down dry market freight rates (especially for capes which have shown s substantial rebound over the past few weeks).
One of the very, very few certainties regarding the Chinese stock market situation is that the current volatility of the market is sure to persist until we see some stabilisation on macro data and/or corporate earnings. The coming months will almost certainly bring wild swings in stock values and, until confidence is restored and stability is reached, the effects of the stock market crash on the Chinese economy will not slow down.
It remains to be seen whether Chinese policy makers will be able to minimise the damage or if the issue spirals out of their control. Whichever it is, it seems that the ride ahead remains bumpy.