Baltic Exchange Dry Index
What it measures: The daily price of moving major raw materials in dry bulk carriers along 20 major shipping routes worldwide.
Where to find it: The data are published by the London-based Baltic Exchange, an association of bulk cargo carriers. It’s available by subscription. However, limited historical data are available free of charge from financial information services like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters.
How to interpret it: The BDI offers a window into the highly opaque shipping industry, though many regard it more broadly as a barometer of global trade. That’s because it measures the present cost of shipping inputs rather than finished products. Better still, it’s resistant to distortion by speculation, since nobody books a freighter unless they need to move cargo.
Recent activity: The index was approaching 12,000 points in May 2008, but within six months plunged below 700. This year it’s recovered above 2,000.