A shortage of financing - estimated at $30bn and caused in part by banks cutting lending to sectors such as shipping - has also hurt companies, sending some to the wall.
"The overall prospects for the dry bulk market are fairly dark - it seems that there is little faith in the market for a recovery. The market mood deteriorates by the day, despite the recent improvement of the Baltic Index," said Basil Karatzas, head of consultancy and brokerage Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co.
The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, earlier this year crashed to an all-time low of under 300 points.
While it has moved up to just over 600 points of late, the index – which global investors look to for changes in sentiment for industrial demand – is still nearly 95 percent down from its all-time peak in 2008.
"Owners should be prepared to face a market which does not improve until 2018 but hope that improvement comes earlier," said Tony Foster, chief executive of British shipping asset manager Marine Capital.
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