Collection: Mohnish Pabrai - #97 'Shipping Industry'



Thanks for a great talk, Mr. Pabrai. You spoke about the cyclical nature of the shipping industry. So when freight rates are high, ship owners essentially order a lot of ships and once they arrive, freight rates go down. Do you think that ship owners are going to learn from their mistakes, or is this going to be a problem that we keep on seeing in that industry?


The ship owners will never learn. The property developers will never learn. Humans and our genetic makeup isn't going change in 5 years or 10 years or 50 years. So we vacillate between fear and greed. And as long as there are humans driving action in industries like shipping, you're going to see that vacillation.

In fact, there's a really, really good book, a work of fiction. It's called, "A Shipping Man". I forget the name of the author, but if you Google it you can find it. So the Shipping Man is a – the guy was an investment banker in the shipping business who wrote that book.

It's a really funny book because it talks about the Greeks, it talks about the Norwegians, it talks about all this cast of characters, including the Americans in this business. It's funny as hell and it really teaches you the business while entertaining you. [Inaudible]

And in fact, Frontline, one of the companies I invested in, is run by a guy named, John Fredrickson, a Norwegian guy. And there is a character in the book who I think is a clone of Fredrickson, which is why I found the book kind of funny.

So you know, the shipping business – I haven't looked at the shipping business in a lot of detail lately, but you know, it's a challenged business right now. And what that means is there's probably opportunity in that business. But I would also say that tread carefully.



[YAPSS Takeaway]

"The Shipping Man" by Matthew McCleery: