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Expand chart
Data: Baltic Exchange: Chart: Axios Visuals

The Baltic Dry Index, a bellwether of the maritime shipping industry, continues to sink and a main component has fallen below zero to a record low, the Wall Street Journal reported.

What's happening: The Baltic Exchange’s capesize index, a component of the Baltic Dry Index that tracks the world's largest dry-bulk carriers, dug deeper into negative territory Tuesday, after going negative on Friday for the first time.

Why it matters: The Baltic Dry Index is seen as representative of demand for raw materials, which can be an early indicator of increasing or decreasing global growth. The index fell by more than 90% in just a few months in 2008.

Yes, but: The index is "much more complicated than the guys on CNBC or the WSJ would have you believe," a spokesperson for the Baltic Exchange tells Axios.

  • "This is an index of freight rates. ... It’s based on the assessment at a specific time by brokers who are specialists in the various routes."
  • "It's important to remember we’re neither in the Baltic, nor an exchange."

Fun fact: The capesize index is so named because it tracks only ships too large to fit through the Suez or Panama canals that must pass through the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn.

Go deeper: Climate change is opening a new era in Arctic shipping

Go deeper

26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's latest executive order: Buy American

President Joe R. Biden speaks about the economy before signing executive orders in the State Dining Room at the White House on Friday, Jan 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services.

Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.

Tech digs in for long domestic terror fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With domestic extremist networks scrambling to regroup online, experts fear the next attack could come from a radicalized individual — much harder than coordinated mass events for law enforcement and platforms to detect or deter.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Twitter stepped up enforcement and their conversations with law enforcement ahead of Inauguration Day. But they'll be tested as the threat rises that impatient lone-wolf attackers will lash out.

The pandemic could be worsening childhood obesity

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 10-month long school closures and the coronavirus pandemic are expected to have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

Why it matters: About one in five children are obese in the U.S. — an all-time high — with worsening obesity rates across income and racial and ethnic groups, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show.