Sunday, January 29

Malcolm McLean, the visionary who invented shipping containers (and blew up trade and globalization)

  • Drafting
  • BBC News World

Malcolm McLean

Image source, Maersk


Malcom McLean imagined how containers could create a new international trading system.

90% of international trade is transported by sea. Computers from China, T-shirts from Bangladesh, copper from Chile, cars from Japan, tomatoes from Spain and everything, everything you can think of, travels in one of the 20,000 metal boxes that a cargo ship can transport.

A steel box with 548,000 bananas, 55 refrigerators, 400 televisions, 13,000 bottles of rum, or a car.

“Globalization, as we know it today, it would not have been possible without the container“, says Marc Levinson, economist, historian, and author of books such as” The Box “, where he explains how innovation made possible the expansion of international trade, and” Outside the Box “, where he reflects on the history and future of the globalization.

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