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Marc Levinson

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, Second Edition with a new chapter by the author

Interview with Marc Levinson

January 17, 2017

Sign Up. Full interview.

About Marc Levinson

Marc Levinson began as a journalist, reporting on business for Time magazine and the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) and serving as editorial director of the daily Journal of Commerce in New York. After several years writing about business and economics for Newsweek, he became finance and economics editor of The Economist in London. In 1999 Marc joined the predecessor to JP Morgan Chase, where he created a unique industry economics function that married economic research with stock and bond analysis and developed a line of environmental research products for institutional investor clients. He has had stints advising Congress on transportation and industry issues and serving as senior fellow for international business at the Council on Foreign Relations, and has consulted for a number of businesses and public agencies.

Marc’s career has been eclectic, but with a common thread: his professional life has centered on making complex economic issues understandable to the general public. Much of his work has been international in focus, dealing with international trade and globalization, international finance and financial regulation, and energy and environmental issues that cross international borders.

He has written six books that merge my interests in economics and business strategy with historical research. He has also written many articles for leading publications, such as Harvard Business Review and Foreign Affairs, and contributed historical pieces to Echoes, the former economic history blog at Bloomberg.com. He frequently reviews books for The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Marc earned a bachelor’s degree from Antioch College, a master’s degrees from Georgia State University and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and a doctorate from the City University of New York.

Interview Summary

When we see a container we tend to ignore it but that aluminum box with no eye appeal managed to make world smaller and the world economy bigger.

 

Metal containers have come to transport goods of all kinds from one corner of the world to the other. However, those simple three dimensional objects have changed the way production is located and brought about equally profound change in shipping and logistics.

 

Author Marc Levinson traces the history of containerization to its roots in the late fifties and how it helped manufactured products from Asia and Europe to worldwide destinations and led to the rise of new shipping ports and technologies and fall of traditional gateway ports.

Key Topics

  • How were goods shipped before containerization?
  • What were the challenges in shipping at ports?
  • Who drove the impractical idea of containerization to a phenomenon of global proportion?
  • How did container standardization slash transportation cost?
  • How did longshoremen’s unions on the West and East Coast react to the new way of shipping and handling?
  • What role did the Vietnam War play in the development of containerization?
  • How did labor relations at large ports affect the containerization drive?
  • What kind of winners and losers did the shipping container create?
  • How did an aging Ideal-X tanker make history on April 26, 1956 by sailing from Newark to Houston?
  • Who was Malcom P. McLean and why did he say that freight is a cost added to the price of goods?

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