Here is a fun new theory to add to the annals of looming financial apocalypse: at least one analyst believes that the global shipping industry is foreshadowing global doom.

Since the entire world economy behaves like a skittish mouse constantly on alert for next imperceptible vibration that will cause it to freak out and run for cover, there is no more enjoyable parlor game than finding new reasons to agree that, yes, it is time to freak out. In Bloomberg today, Mark Gilbert posits his opinion that his examination of global shipping statistics leads him to “a similar conclusion about the growth outlook”—similar, that is, to his growth outlook in October of 2008, just as the world was fully tipping into the depths of financial catastrophe.

With the stipulation that I have no idea whether or not Gilbert is right or wrong and simply enjoy prodding the public into needless panic, in my own small way, his evidence is roughly: China shipping activity is down sharply; global bulk shipping is down sharply; US and European air freight shipping is down somewhat; and Volvo orders are down.

Passing moment of slow economic activity, or harbinger of much larger economic collapse? I dunno. Do you know? No. It seems reasonable to panic just in case.

[Photo: AP]