A thorough understanding of the role of economics in the various sectors of the maritime industry is vital to success in increasingly global markets. In this paper, the authors discuss the importance of economics in the maritime industry and the consequences of ignoring the effect of economic factors. The authors explore the effect that economics has on the industry's organization, including its structure, behavior, and performance. They examine the relationship between maritime economics and transportation economics, and explore implications of modeling the demand for shipping and shipbuilding services as a derivative of the demand for international trade and commerce. In this regard, the authors present the U.S. maritime industry and chart significant milestones in its development. This factors into a discussion of the impact of the globalization of commercial shipping. The authors also consider the history of government involvement and the military role of the maritime industry. The central thesis of this discussion is that the markets for ships and shipping are becoming increasingly more competitive, and less susceptible to outside constraint. The authors then illustrate their thesis by presenting case studies capturing the two main segments of the maritime industry: international shipping and international shipbuilding. The authors prescribe the need for a market-driven industry receiving minimal intervention by government. Finally, the authors discuss the role of SNAME's Panel 0–36, "Maritime Economics," in relation to the concerns of maritime economics that embrace far-reaching issues with significant application to shipping and shipbuilding in the United States.

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