This thesis addresses three current issues in maritime economics by the application\ud of semi-parametric estimations within a generalized additive model framework. First, this thesis shows that there are vessel and contract specific differences in\ud time charter rates for dry bulk vessels. The literature on microeconomic factors of time charter rates could show the emergence of a two-tier tanker market during the post-OPA90 period. However, previous results do not allow for any safe conclusions about the existence of a two-tier dry bulk market. This thesis extends the results of previous research by showing that a good part of the variation in physical time charter rates is due to microeconomic factors. It empirically proves the existence of a two-tier dry-bulk market. Controlling for a variety of contract specific effects as well as vessel specific factors the presented model quantifies quality induced differences\ud in physical dry bulk charter rates. Second, the literature on the formation of ship prices focuses exclusively on rather homogeneous shipping segments, such as tankers and dry bulk carriers. Due to the\ud comparatively low number of sales and the complexity of the ships, vessel valuation\ud in highly specialised and small sectors, such as chemical tankers, is a much more\ud challenging task. The empirical results of this thesis confirm the findings in recent\ud literature that ship valuation is a non-linear function of size, age and market conditions, whilst other parameters that are particular to the chemicals market also play\ud a significant role. The third topic addresses the recent increase in operational expenses of merchant vessels (opex). The available literature cannot explain the development nor provides information on vessel individual level. This thesis considers a quantitative model of opex that is particularly successful in explaining the variation in opex across vessels of different type, size, age and specification. The results confirm that differences in\ud opex are due to the behaviour of a vessel's operator and to regulatory requirements.\ud Furthermore, it shows that there are significant differences in opex due to earnings and employment status of a vessel
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