Working Paper | 2014

Waves in Ship Prices and Investment

by Robin Greenwood and Samuel G. Hanson

Abstract

We study the link between investment boom and bust cycles and returns on capital in the dry bulk shipping industry. We show that high current ship earnings are associated with high used ship prices and heightened industry investment in new ships, but forecast low future returns. We propose and estimate a behavioral model of industry cycles that can account for the evidence. In our model, firms over-extrapolate exogenous demand shocks and partially neglect the endogenous investment response of their competitors. As a result, firms overpay for ships and overinvest in booms and are disappointed by the subsequent low returns. Formal estimation of the model suggests that modest expectational errors can result in dramatic excess volatility in prices and investment.

Keywords: Demand and Consumers; Price; Ship Transportation; Investment; Shipping Industry;

Citation:

Greenwood, Robin, and Samuel G. Hanson. "Waves in Ship Prices and Investment." Working Paper, August 2014. (Internet Appendix Here.)