||Costas Th. Grammenos
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In the seven years that have passed since 2002, when the first edition of this Handbook was published, each one of us would have noticed major events or conditions that have strongly impacted the shipping markets and produced results that we would include in our lectures - often we catesorise these as extraordinary. I have in mind the explosive rate of growth in China; the almost unstoppable increase in seaborne trade and in investments in new vessels; in the expansion in number and size of Chinese shipyards; in the continuation of bank finance as the strong source of funds for shipping companies; in the mergers or acquisitions of shipping companies and. generally, in the increase of their size; and in the emergence of capital markets as a serious means of raising funds for a sizeable number of shipping companies. All this activity was abruptly shaken in 2007 when the world recession shyly emerged and the subprime crisis of US residential mortgages, and the toxic products based on them, hit the international financial system and froze the liquidity in it. It seems wre have not seen the end of the mega drama that we have witnessed in these seven years. Our Handbook has been directly or indirectly influenced by events of the first decade of the 21st century which have been embodied in our data analysis. The structure of this volume remains the same as the edition published in 2002. However, in addition to the rewriting or updating of the chapters, some new topics have been included in the volume, such as the historical analysis of freight rates fluctuations in chapter 10: measures for global control of air pollution from ships in chapter 16; measures for business performance in shipping in chapter 22; while capital markets as a source in shipping finance and a holistic survey in strategy literature relevant to shipping are discussed in chapters 23 and 29 respectively. The first edition established the Handbook as an authoritative source of academic research that is useful for university students and researchers and. at the same time, it satisfies the curiosity of the well-informed practitioner and widens its knowledge horizon. It is a pleasure to know that the Handbook is now called "The Maritime Bible" in more than 30 countries.