Book review: “The Shipping Man” – Matt McCleery

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This is a book reader “JJ” recommended to me somewhere in the comments. Its a very unique book as it says “A novel” on the cover but in effect is the best book I have read about the shipping industry.

The story is about a NY based hedge fund manager who decides that he wants to own a ship. He buys an old ship with his personal money from a strange Greek guy and then gets into the world of shipping. Along the way he loses his hedge fund, encounters many problems and sells his ship with a lot of luck at a profit.

By pure coincidence he ends up as the CEO of a Norwegian Oil Tanker company and tries to raise senior debt funding at Wall Street.

The book seems to be at least partially autobiographic. What I really liked about the book is that despite telling a funny and readable story, the author also manages to include many great insights on the shipping industry specifically and financing, cost of capital and other financial aspects of Wall Street along the way. 

One of the key messages is that financing ships economically sucks because a lot of the players think quite uneconomically. They want to have the biggest ships or the biggest fleet and always manage to lure in many gullible investors on the way. The whole industry seems to be like a big casino where some insiders always get their cut and all the oher “players” lose in the long term by design.

Actually I do think that the same principle applies for any other very capital intensive businesses.

Anyway, I can highly recommend this book. It is a good read and interesting for anyone who has ever thought about investing into something related to shipping.

At least for me, I am now completely “healed” from even looking into shipping companies or Off-shore drilling etc.

 

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