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The Container

March 19th, 2006 · No Comments

The Economist reviews “The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger” by Marc Levinson:

Consider the economics. Loading loose cargo, a back-breaking, laborious business, onto a medium-sized ship cost $5.83 a ton in 1956. McLean calculated that loading the Ideal-X cost less than $0.16 a ton. All of a sudden, the cost of shipping products to another destination was no longer prohibitively expensive.

This opened up all sorts of possibilities. Instead of manufacturing goods locally, a company could afford to replace its overcrowded multi-storey factory in Brooklyn with one in Pennsylvania, where taxes, electricity and other costs were lower, and then ship its goods to New York in a container. Later the factory might move to Mexico; it is now probably in China.

The Box is mostly about the formative years of the industry, perhaps providing a little more information than most people actually want.

The latest issue of Forbes also has an excerpt from the book. Seems like a fascinating read.

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