Supply Chain Shortages and Inflation: How Bad Will the Disruption Become?

As William Gibson famously said, “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.“ And that appears to go double for our current supply chain crisis. It’s hit key sectors, above all autos, hard, but others seems to oddly unaffected.1

However, these problems are likely to both become more severe and persist longer than they should due to the poor responses of our elites. Some of these disruptions are due to things outside US control, like chip makers being whipsawed by carmakers who slashed orders then wanting to go back to their old levels double plus quick when the chipmakers are plenty busy thanks to electronics company orders, and widespread power outages in China.

On the one hand, Biden Administration officials have urged consumers to buy earlier for Christmas (particularly toys because China). Worse, the UK is suffering food shortages and citizens have been warned they might not be able to procure a Christmas dinner. Americans are feeling the pinch because two of the categories they buy most often, food and gas, are seeing big spikes. From Bloomberg:

Consumers around the world are about to get socked with even higher prices on everyday items, companies from food giant Unilever Plc to lubricant maker WD-40 Co. warned this week as they grapple with supply difficulties.

The maker of Dove soap and Magnum ice-cream bars jacked up prices by more than 4% on average last quarter, the biggest jump since 2012, and signaled elevated pricing will continue into next year. A similar refrain came from Nestle SA, Procter & Gamble Co. and Danone SA, whose products dominate supermarket aisles and kitchen cupboards.

“We’re in for at least another 12 months of inflationary pressures,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “We are in a once-in-two-decades inflationary environment.”

Read this part carefully:

Companies are facing a dire mix of supply-chain challenges, as well as higher costs for energy, raw materials, packaging and shipping. While most consumer-goods makers reporting results this week expressed confidence that they’ll be able to limit the long-term hit to profitability, that means the pain passes to consumers, upping the squeeze on pockets as Christmas approaches.

Ahem, “long-term hit to profitability”? Analysts don’t care about long term. This is code for they are passing through their price increases close to, if not entirely. And that’s disgraceful given that corporate profit share has been at a record share of GDP for years, more than double the level in the early 2000s.

The big “on the other hand” part is the Administration is doing almost as much wrong as it possibly could. First, it has allowed itself to take ownership of this supply chain problem, when it can do almost nothing to increase production or clear delivery bottlenecks. So Team Biden is managing to further diminish its rapidly sinking credibility. Why not toss the hand grenade back to business, where it belongs, by forming a task force? Or put Harris in charge? One thing she appears to be good at is getting her pet projects overlooked by the press.

It is almost laughable, for instance, that the Administration asked chip makers to report on their inventories. We predicted they wouldn’t get the data, and that’s looking to be the case.2. And more important, what would they do with it? They can’t make any chip makers behave differently even if they were to be open kimono.

Similarly, the press is widely reporting on a Biden brain fart, that of having the National Guard help with “supply chain bottlenecks“. Actually it’s worse than a brain fart, because it’s proof that the Administration believes unglamorous essential jobs require no skill. Per the Wall Street Journal:

“The answer is yes, if we can’t move—increase the number of truckers, which we’re in the process of doing,” Mr. Biden said during a CNN town hall on Thursday when asked about deploying the National Guard.

Before we get too excited, at least some alert members of the press realized the Biden remark made no sense:

But let’s take it at face value. National Guardsmen driving trucks? Seriously? You need a commercial license to drive a truck. Maybe a state would waive the requirement for National Guardsmen to operate a truck with their state (moving commercial goods is a commercial use; you can’t pretend this is an emergency like hurricane relief). But having a National Guardsman drive any private truck without a commercial license would violate its insurance policy. No truck owner, whether owner operator or lessor, would allow that. And I doubt the Biden Administration was planning to commandeer private sector trucks. That gets you right into a Fifth Amendment unlawful taking, for starters.

And as Lambert pointed out in Water Cooler, there is something Biden can do to at least somewhat alleviate the mess at ports, but he’s refusing to do that:

“Biden Races Clock and Holds Few Tools in Supply-Chain Crisis” [Bloomberg]. Amazing nugget: “Trucking is an industry long beset by grueling hours and declining pay. Few know those hardships better than port truck drivers. Port truckers are typically independent contractors, without the benefits and protections of unionized transport sectors or even major companies with shipping divisions, like Inc. Their jobs require them to line up for hours to pick up cargo, and they’re paid only when they move it. ‘The port truck driver, for decades now, has basically been the slack adjuster in the whole system,” said Steve Viscelli, an economic sociologist with the University of Pennsylvania who studies labor markets and supply chains. The entire system, he said, is built around free labor from truck drivers as they wait for containers. The Teamsters union says Biden should try to encourage organization of port drivers so that they can bargain for better pay and benefits. But the president has instead focused on trying to produce new drivers by streamlining licensing. The White House says an average of 50,000 commercial drivers licenses and learners permits have been issued each month this year, 14% above 2019 and far above 2020 levels, when the pandemic shuttered training programs.” • And then the newly licensed drivers discover they have to work long hours for nothing, and move on, right?

Second, as we know, the Administration is making the supply chain/inflation crisis worse through its insistence on strong-form, as in vaccine-only, mandates. There are plenty of choke points in the economy, such nursing staff and public transit workers, that a few job losses has a disproportionate impact. And as we have pointed out here, now that Delta has become the dominant variant, the vaccines do little to limit contagion, as opposed to tamp down severe cases and deaths. It would be far better to have regular testing in all workplaces with close working conditions and/or poor ventilation. But the pushing of the magic vaccines as the only solution continues.

Even though mandate backers argue few have been fired for non-compliance, that’s not the right metric. Anyone with self preservation instincts would leave for a new job before the drop dead date. So the Administration’s misguided approach to vaccinations is at least at the margin, and perhaps more than that, adding to supply chain/inflation pressures.

Now what could Biden do? While he can’t do much about the supply chain mess, he could do a lot more about food and consumer goods inflation. Notice that the big companies (and you can be sure the distributors too) plan to and probably are preserving their profit margins?

Biden should put them in his crosshairs.

Imagine if he got up and gave a presidential address that more or less said:

Americans, particularly hourly employees like our essential workers in healthcare and the food industry, are hurting due to inflation as big companies are still raking in record profits. This has to stop. The Federal government spent $X trillion last year bailing out American businesses. No profiteering when your survival and bottom line depended on taxpayer support. We expect all of you to curtail your profits for the next two quarters so middle class and poor Americans don’t have to sweat if they can pay the bills over the holiday season. We also expect corporate executives to moderate their bonuses out of respect for the sacrifices, including the sacrifice of their lives, that our essential workers have made during this Covid crisis.

And before you say, “What about the stock market?” I say to you if any investor is dumb enough to sell during a short-term, deliberate profit curtailment, others will be smart enough to buy on this dip, and they’ll come out winners.

I am instructing the Commerce Department and the Transportation Department to develop detailed profit analyses which we intend to make public.

Even if this didn’t work in embarrassing the big companies into behaving better, Biden’s approval ratings would spike.3 And he could specifically try to embarrass whoever pays for port drivers to pony up for the waiting time or else he would thrown his full weight behind their unionization drive.

Let’s turn to a related issue out of our opening Gibson quote, that the supply chain/inflation crisis is not evenly distributed. Admittedly I don’t buy much more than some food and gas these days. I haven’t seen that much in the way of increases in what I buy for me or the household or the aides ex gas (I do see mass market items like crackers and cookies have gone up but the bigger increase were via package shrinkage; veggies and organic yogurt, eggs, and oddities like kombucha are flattish, while cheese and butter and some seafood items have gone up; there have been some price increases and portion-size shavings at restaurants, but more in NYC than here). At least here, I haven’t seen shortages (save the chip aisle looking bare right before football games, which is normal here, and no Veuve Cliquot for nine months) except on a very short-lived basis with paper goods; it was way way way worse during Peak Covid.

By contrast, drug supply shortages are worse than last year. Nevertheless, I am surprised at how dire things look to IM Doc, who is in a rural but very affluent pocket of flyover. I am in a much less affluent pocket in a medium-sized city. And I didn’t see anything like this in Maine a month ago (frequent trips to two grocery stores) nor did I hear of anything like this when in New York to see MDs. Is the local experience different due to being less remote? Or are other readers seeing as many shortages as he does?

From IM Doc:

About inflation……..

I was raised in a very large extended family on an ancestral family farm.

As a kid, I listened to my grandparents and uncles tell stories of what it was like in the Great Depression. As I got older, my grandfather would pound into my head multiple things that happened to him as a young man that were harbingers of the bad times to come. That was deflation. As a child myself, my family lived through the oil shock and the stagflation of the 1970s. I think all of us over 50 have living experience with this type of thing.

I will tell everyone here – my red alert signals planted by my elders deep in my brain have been going off full blast this entire year.

I am unable to procure a windshield for my late model van. At any price. There are just none available.

My neighbor’s Ford truck has been disabled since August and unusable because a small part is needed to fix it and is unavailable.

There are multiple buildings all around in various stages of building that have just been abandoned for want of supplies or supplies that are now all of a sudden prohibitively expensive. Some have clearly been left to rot.

We have kids in my kids’ school whose parents were already marginal financially whose children now just have no lunches to eat at these prices in the grocery store. And the school lunches have turned into a horrifying joke. My wife and multiple other parents are making extra for these kids every day.

We have in our part of the country seen the cost of basic staples explode in price just in the past month – sometimes at a very scary rate.

We are seeing large swaths of the local stores empty of many things. Large empty rows of things like canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, and just forget about large groups of various pre-processed foods ( our family does not eat this type of thing anyway). The sections with sodas ( yet another thing we do not use) are just empty most of the time except for the Coca Cola products which it seems everyone around my place are boycotting.

And many essentials are non-existent, for example Kerr and Ball canning products.

And like no time in my career, we in the office are having to juggle all kinds of medications and prescriptions. Many pharmaceuticals are just simply not available. Especially all the various types of long-acting insulin (Tresiba and Tuojeo are the worst), rheumatology drugs (Enbrel and Humira), asthma inhalers and many types of antibiotics.

I am somewhat comforted that my wife and I saw the writing on the wall several years ago and moved to the vast expanse of rural America. We have just procured half a cow from our neighbor for example and have on our property chickens galore and abundant eggs every day. Just like my grandparents taught me to do – we have been canning and preparing all summer. Large containers of flour and sugar are stored and ready. We are about as prepared as anyone in our family.

Yet – I never dreamed I would hear an American administration just so glibly blow off the entire situation – Psaki – “Everything is great – people are just buying a lot of stuff” and “Get over it, maybe no treadmill this year”. I just cannot believe what I am hearing. I know from talking to my patients that there are already lots of people already suffering – and this tripe is what is coming out of Washington? First we were blessed with the visage of an American president smiling with glee announcing that many millions of Americans were about to be fired – and now this? I truly no longer recognize my country. I have serious reservations that any of our leaders in either party have a clue or the will to do anything about this impeding situation.

We at least agree on appalling leadership even if we don’t seem to be getting the same signals on current conditions.

But we’ll close on a less dour note: the current shortages and price squeezes may usher in price breaks down the road. From vlade:

My wife’s parents live nearby Skoda’s factories. There are massive parking lots full of semi-finished cars, which I guess are waiting for the chips to be delivered, and the cars completed. I’d expect that the cars that sat for half a year on the parking lot can’t be sold at full price though, so as there are car shortages now, it’s very likely that in a year or so there will be an oversupply.


1 Yours truly eats more dietary supplements than food and I’ve seen nothing amiss there, not even much in the way of price increases.

2 This entire exercise is embarrassing. The US lacks the authority to get foreign manufacturers to cooperate. The linked Reuters article verges on disinformation, since the fact that the Administration is now talking about having to compel producers to get data means it knows it won’t get much if any and is trying to engage in porcine maquillage.

3 Indeed, Biden could play this entirely cynically, as the Obama administration did with bank servicers during the foreclosure crisis. Quoting Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin:

So here’s what’s going down. The bank regulators are going to provide cover for the banks by pretending to discipline them very hard, but not really doing anything. The public will see a stern C&D order, but there won’t be any action beyond that. It’s as if the regulators are saying so all the neighbors can hear, “Banky, you’ve been a bad boy! Come inside the house right now because I’m going to give you a spanking!” And then once the door to the house closes, the instead of a spanking, there’s a snuggle. But the neighbors are none the wiser.

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  1. farmboy

    all trucking paid by loaded mile. backhauls back to terminal or home are booked to cover costs. the best gigs are local so you can sleep in your own bed. used to haul apples, then wine grapes this time of year and grain from country elevator to river terminal. my own truck, my own maintenance, fuel, insurance but it paid well as a supplement to farm income. and it was kinda fun to go to the back of the winery to see how the juice was made and meet the winemakers. one told me it takes a lot of beer to make good wine! just last spring the company that hauled my organic grain to the mill 4 hours away went out of business because they couldn’t find drivers. trucking was deregulated in the 80’s with PUC’s being the arbiter of rates. iirc back in 09 when .5million trucks were parked in the nevada desert, trucks were, wait for it, dirt cheap, sorry, i bought my latest then. no easy fix for this problem.

  2. Watt4Bob

    Uber to the rescue;

    In April, Uber announced a $250 million incentive package to recruit drivers in Chicago, temporarily boosting the hourly rate for those working at least 20 hours a week by nearly $5 to more than $33 per hour. The program remains in place, the company said Tuesday.

    The way I read this, Uber offers precarious truck driving jobs that will pay $34K/year, most likely have you waiting around for notification via an app that it’s time to go to work.

    But I’m still seeing ads by trucking firms that say their drivers can make $100k/year?

    I have a harder time believing that Uber is going to be successful at the bottom of the trucker’s wage spectrum, than believing the possibility of making $100K/year driving truck, and having anything like a happy ‘normal’ life.

    Then again, it may be that just like Uber ride services, it takes a year or so for a new driver to realize that they aren’t really getting anywhere financially, and they seem to be betting that there is a vast supply of naive and desperate people willing to give it a go.

    Maybe Uber knows something I’m reluctant to know.

    1. The Historian

      From what I’ve read about Uber, it looks like they are just interested in horning in on the independent dispatch business. They will provide an app but it will be up to the driver to decide which loads they take much like O/O’s do now. The driver will still use his own equipment, be responsible for taxes, equipment maintenance, insurance, his own drug and alcohol program, and obeying all the FMCSA regs.

      Why Uber bought Otto, I have no idea – probably a gimmick to boost its stock price. Self driving truck may make sense in the future, but we are a long way away from that and Uber isn’t known for thinking that far in the future.

      As to making $100 K a year? Well, there are a lot of promises out there about that but promises are what trucking companies sell the most of. I think that is what they have in common with Uber. A reality check that all new drivers should take into account:
      1. You will be expected to drive at least 70 hours per week – that is pure driving, not all the down time a driver will have waiting to be loaded (yes, that is still on duty time counted against your 70 hours), and if you are an O/O, hunting for loads. You will often have to spend your down time in another city so getting home is going to be a problem because you probably won’t be dispatched to anywhere near where you live unless you are lucky.
      2. You will be expected to drive the speed limit for all of that 70 hours – and is that really possible? As a driver who has to drive the I-95 corridor or in Southern California if that is possible. A driver in fly-over country may average 60 mph for a day’s drive if he is lucky. I know this from experience – I’ve looked over many many logbooks and tax records in my day!
      3. Pay from what I’ve read lately ranges from $.29 to $.45 per mile depending on experience. You do the math.
      4. There are companies that pay better, like UPS – and you can be home with your family at night – but they only hire the most experienced drivers for ther OTR jobs. And yes, many of them are unionized. Go figure! Seems experienced drivers like working in union shops! Methinks they won’t be working for Uber!
      5. Custom Critical load and niche loads, like heavy equipment haulers or hazmat haulers, pay more, but again, those jobs go to people with a lot of experience, they don’t go to the people the trucking companies are advertizing for.

      It has been a LONG time since I was involved in the trucking world (loved working with truckers and trucking companies but the pay was so low I had to go back to being a Fed just to earn enough money to retire) – over 20 years, so things may have changed, but I doubt it. Same feast and famine cycle for truckdrivers, same low pay, same conditions – things Uber likes to take advantage of.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Thanks for your comments.

        You confirm my suspicions, Uber seems to stick their noses in anywhere they suspect they can make believe they have a plausible chance of success in order to bolster their pie-in-the-sky by-and-by fairytale story for investors.

        The self-driving truck scam alone should make it clear that they are selling far-fetched dreams.

        I’d like to think that they’ll have big trouble selling their BS to truckers, who already have too many bad bosses trying to work them to death for less and less pay.

  3. grayslady

    I’ve been ordering several of my supplements from the same company for about 3 years now since it always has the best prices on the brands I need. My last order, just a few days ago, was an increase in price of about 25%. Since the company usually sends me a coupon every couple of months for 15% off the entire order plus free shipping, this is a pure product/distributor price increase.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I order a ton of supplements and have yet to see anything out of the ordinary from the main place I order (nearly all of what I buy is at the same price as six months ago; one company I like has been running ahead of inflation for a while….).

      Having said that, I buy one very expensive endothelial supplement from an independent provider (they don’t sell through other sites) and they keep getting even more expensive over the last two years. Big price increases.

      1. lordkoos

        We buy a lot of supplements from Swansons and so far they seem well-stocked and prices have been stable.

        As far as inflation in general, I have a hard time believing that prices will come down again unless there is an actual oversupply – the opportunity for profits is likely to great for many companies to ignore.

        Maybe they will start making 10mm wide cereal boxes while keeping the price the same – that strategy has been working for some time now.

        1. ambrit

          “..10mm wide cereal boxes..”
          Oh yes indeed! The “Thin Line” cereal product packaging scheme. Use depth psychology to drive the customer’s unconscious to purchase that perception!
          Today, I would not put anything past this bunch. (Apple has built a business empire off of the concept.)

  4. Cocomaan

    Good rundown. When the administration announced that FedEx ups etc were going to work 24/7, I laughed out loud at the headline. Biden is a joke.

    And the school lunches have turned into a horrifying joke. My wife and multiple other parents are making extra for these kids every day.

    On another forum I read, someone gave an anecdote. It may not be true, but it’s so horrific I feel like it can’t be made up. They said that at their school, kids were served lemons as their fruit serving because no other fruit could be found.

    Things will really hit the fan when/if mandates take hold. Firing 20% of your workforce who refused vaccines, or even
    5%, is an incredible inflationary event. How many of the truckers who are left are going to be fired over vaccines ?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That lemon story is either a fabrication or from Alaska. I see bananas, oranges, grapes, 4 types of berries and stone fruits all the time. I go straight for the berries so there may also be mandarins or clementines I am overlooking. There are presumably apples, I haven’t looked. I like only Golden Delicious and they aren’t sold in the South. My mother at least 2x a month gets takeout from a Mediterranean chain and they still offer a side of a fruit cup.

      1. Cocomaan

        I wouldn’t have believed it but the school lunch crunch story is local and making the nyt :

        The problem is that schools don’t really have kitchens for cooking. They have kitchens for reheating and supplying boxed meals.

        Basically, they don’t have access to grocery store inventory, and partly it’s because they have strict supply rules.

        These stories are saying that sole source providers are just not delivering things like bread or vegetables. It’s insane.

          1. Cocomaan

            Not a bug!

            My local school districts have had stories in the paper about breakfast and lunch problems, this seems to be a widespread problem.

      2. ambrit

        Silly comment, so just whip me lightly please.
        You being in a certain mid-Alabama region, do you have contacts in the Gasden and or Fort Payne/Mentone area? (Upper Northeast corner of the state.) The best apples Phyl and I ever had, (twenty years ago now,) we purchased from a roadside stand up on the ridge. The apples were sourced from local orchards.
        We get, whenever available, MacIntosh apples. Tart, crisp, good for cooking. Generally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan region. One local grocery stocks these. The grocery ‘manager’ said that these are available, but that corporate generally ‘offers’ a limited range of product for internal ordering. The local manager orders the MacIntosh individually because he knows he has a demand and will sell the product out consistently. So, perhaps weaseling around the back rooms of the local grocery emporium could help in your quest for Golden Delicious. (It never hurts to get to know the “middle management” of a place you deal with regularly. Every good salesman I have known well takes the secretary of the purchasing manager out to lunch when in any town or city. Just good business practice.)
        As to other fruits and vegetables; the local Bigg Boxx Stores here are experiencing thin shelves of all sorts of perishables. As an example; I have been having a hard time finding fresh garlic cloves. A box will come in and be put out on the shelves. That box will last about two days. Then another five to seven days wait for more.
        Anyway. Stay safe!

  5. Brooklin Bridge

    Biden knows his a one timer. He’s clearly chosen grift and is either indifferent to historical significance or unaware of it in his bubble of age and circumstance. A dedicated member of the venal class who carelessly owes his jackpot to Bernie Sanders.

  6. Keith Newman

    I live in Gatineau, Quebec. Can’t say I’ve noticed any supply shortages or unusual price increases. I mostly buy grocery items, stuff for my two bikes and travel. A recent round trip to Halifax (mid-Oct.) cost less than in the past, and a vacation in Cuba the same as in the pre-Covid years. Just ordered two couches from Jay-Mar, a Montreal based manufacturer, and have to wait 4 months for them. I don’t know if this is longer than usual. They are being made to my specifications.

    1. Paleobotanist

      Here in Montreal there are alot of shortages. Spare parts are hopelessly backlogged. We have been waiting on a replacement part for the washer a month and a half. No idea when it will appear. I will try looking for a new washer when I get alittle time free but I’m not optimistic. The price of cheese is ridiculous. Cat food is same price but in a much smaller tin (how low can you go?). Lots of the smaller package size game. I have just been buying fresh stuff from the local farmers at Jean Talon market. The local bodega’s have been selling pantry moth infected food – I suspect they are getting jerked around by their suppliers. No drug shortages yet, but I’m trying to wean myself off lyrica (hard battle). I will replenish the dry goods supply in the pantry for the winter once I get rid of the damned pantry moths. The local IGA is busy filling supply holes with alternative brands, but if you look closely, the holes are there. This is plenty of food though. I will start stocking up on toilet paper again. Prices are up.

      I’m isolated because of a covid exposure. Our numbers of cases are low, almost everyone is vaccinated here. People are getting really bad about masking. I’m fighting with my university students to follow masking rules. I suspect that covid is going to roar back with a bang come winter confinement and vaccine waning.

      We are much better off here than in the US I suspect. Quebec is big bickering extended family but we are capable of functioning together as a society (unlike the US today). It’s just we like our loud family drama meanwhile. Not a bad place to ride out these storms. I was going to go to New Orleans for the AGU fall meeting in December but I think I’ll chicken out…I should go but, it looks so dicey down south in the US.

      1. Bart Hansen

        Try to wait for that washer replacement part. The new top loading washers come without an agitator, such that they don’t clean clothes too good.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          That is so last year. Most of the companies (they are just brands, only a couple of companies actually make the machines) have now brought back models with agitators, though I think they are all based on the new low-flow washing “technology” so I’m not sure they work as well as the older machines with agitators did.

          1. Keith Newman

            @Bart, Left in
            Interesting comments re washing machines. About three years ago the motor of mine broke. I spent three days going to every store I could locate that sold them. I wanted a washer with a big tub that would actually clean my clothes so it needed an agitator and couldn’t be a front loader. Couldn’t find one except Speed Queen but the tub was small. Wound up getting my old one repaired at ridiculous expense.

        2. eg

          I got the old-school top-loading Maytag Commercial washer just before Covid hit. It’s got an agitator. It doesn’t spin as fast as our old Neptune front-loader (we got lucky and didn’t get a lemon; it gave us 20 years before the bearings went), so stuff goes into the dryer wetter, and the old-fashioned bleach dispenser is problematic (had to give up using bleach due to unwanted residual bleaching of subsequent loads). But like I said, it has an agitator and cleans effectively.

      2. ambrit

        My contacts from the New Orleans area say that the Delta variant is now endemic there.
        A certain Radical Socialist worker from N’Awlins would have a better data set than I. (Moved back home from the Northwest Frontier recently.)
        “Where y’at bro?” Lookin for ya. Hope you’re safe!

      3. Keith Newman

        @ Paleo
        I’m a bit surprised by what you say but I think it depends on what you buy and when. I buy store brand cheese mostly and some specialty stuff from Quebec. Pastries and bread from my local bakery are plentiful and the same price as ever. Plenty of beef, chicken, fish, dairy, fruit, vegetables, etc. around. Can’t say I’ve noticed a difference in price.
        I bought a new Mazda CX-5 a year ago August with no problems at an OK price and 0% financing over 4.5 years. I’ve been a bit rattled by Yves saying that chips for cars last about 10 years and then you can be out of luck.Yikes! I hope to keep my car 20 years. I only drive about 5,000 km a year.
        Vacation in Cuba: I’m curious to find out how full the resort will be. Last November it was almost empty apparently.
        Rented a car in Halifax last July: prices were double from a few years before due to Covid. I’d forgotten about that. Hotel prices pretty much the same as ever.
        Of course real estate prices have gone nuts but that’s the same everywhere I think.
        Good luck with the part for your washer!
        I agree about living in Quebec. In my neighbourhood lots of nods hello and “bonjour” from people I don’t know when I’m out for a walk.

        1. Keith Newman

          Also bought several boxes of N95 and N99 masks during the last few weeks. They arrived within a few days. None ordered from Amazon by the way. A year ago they weren’t available at all.

  7. griffen

    The thread yesterday initiated by IM Doc was interesting and pretty insightful It’s no longer just the routine items like paper goods and TP. Replacement parts printed via 3D – that’s innovative!

    Broad terms, I am noticing price increases on coffee, and for local quick service or drive through for take out; a local/southeastern chicken franchise is frequently out of particular items.

    Easily the most frequent indicator for pricing pressure is a gallon of 87 octane unleaded. Link below is a AAA gas price website. Regular gasoline and also diesel is up significantly from a year prior.

    1. Bart Hansen

      On coffee, I saw a brand I like on sale and bought a bag only to see it weighed 10.5 ounces. Seems they have blown by the 12 ounce size reduction.

      1. griffen

        I may do some substitute choices on a brand of coffee. Last purchase for a standard 12oz bag was about $8.75, that’s up from $7.75 back in early summer I think. Plus or minus the price increase was notable.

        On the other hand, once you pick a substitute you’re stuck until it’s used. That’s if you don’t care for it or the taste is just a “meh” response.

  8. Charles Yaker

    I wonder how Canada is doing? They still use their trains. I guess you can blame Eisenhower for that but the neoliberal “:just in time” and “off shoring “looms large. More importantly since those were with us the biggest problem was “not shutting down the economy “ and ending the virus. That profit driven decision by both Republicans and Democrats will continue to extract a price.

  9. TomDority

    Maybe I am way too cynical, or, not. – (Crisis is the overused word of the year) – I have been under the impression that the word ‘crisis’ has denoted a feeling that it became a crisis outside the workings of man…like no manipulation was involved or no laws that led to it-
    Didn’t the robber barons of yore jack the price of shipping goods via train to the point of removing all the profit of the producer?
    Didn’t the Mitt Romney’s of the world buy out a company that was producing a critical automotive part, then jack the price some 6,000% – during the bank and automotive bailout – to walk away with millions and tossing hundreds out of work?
    Didn’t the relatively current crop (back to the 1970’s 80′ 90’etc) of legislative flunkies and financial geniuses guide our country -again – into these Crisis – in the most supine positions.
    Is it possible, with all the computer tech and computational know how – developed mainly to game the system for the profit of the few and the commiseration of the many – the decades of swaying to the FIRE sector , the outsourcing and extension of supply chains – that possibly this ain’t a crisis? maybe just a bunch of parallel cons?
    Sorry about the paranoia and cynicism
    After all – news never reports on the many good things happening that have stayed out of the clutches of the FIRE sector and Rentiers and conmen and women

  10. Rouli

    Commercial networking equipment (firewall, routers, switches) are harder to find now, I’m getting 4 months+ delays quoted.

  11. The Rev Kev

    I am not sure how people will cope with this supply shortage if it goes on for an extended period of time – which I fully expect it to do. What I mean is that for so many people the be-all and end-all is ‘convenience’ as in ‘what you want, when you want it’. They expect to go onto Amazon and before they know it, it is waiting at their door. Amazon was reinforcing this idea by experimenting with drone deliveries and their drivers are pushed to their limit to make these deliveries. You could say that we live(d) in a convenience society here.

    Well that model is breaking down now. It is not so much a matter of not getting what you want for a fair price but not being able to get stuff for any price. The transport system has been stressed and the papered-over cracks are being revealed. Such as the dependence on truck drivers giving their time & labour for free waiting for a shipment at a port for their truck. Or places like California bringing in laws that will severely restrict the number of people who will be able to become truckers.

    Considering that the average age of a truck driver is in their late 40s and the Pandemic must have reduced their numbers somewhat you would think that upping their pay & conditions would be a priority. Instead, Uber wants to put their grubby mitts in to keep wages low and their profits high. Economic tone-deafness that. Remember back in early 2020 with the pandemic there was the feeling that we were at the beginning of something huge and long-lasting? I have the same feeling here.

    1. The Historian

      Amazon does things a little differently that most companies.

      Disclaimer: I have a Data Scientist son who worked for Amazon for a short time. He quit after a few months because they refused to honor their promise to respect his off duty time. He is now working for another company – not involved in retail – and is very happy.

      Amazon invested heavily in data science and they know things that other companies haven’t yet figured out. They know that people search on line for things before they buy them so they use that data to fill their giant warehouses – aka Fulfillment Centers, which they are now building everywhere. They also know beforehand what the people in the area normally buy and are able to stock their local giant warehouses with that stuff – something other companies without giant warehouses can’t do. They also use data science to handle transportation problems so they can afford to have some trucks waiting for stock while other trucks are moving stock between warehouses. I think it all depends on how long this transportation crunch lasts. Amazon can withstand transportation cycles but this is turning out to be a lot bigger than ordinary cycles so we shall see how they deal with it!

      1. The Historian

        I should also note that retail isn’t Amazon’s only, or even most profitable, business these days. I’m not sure, I think AWS has surpassed retail in making money for the company.

        1. lordkoos

          I use a handy script-blocker browser extension called “no-script”. I love it because it allows you to see not only who is tracking you but also who the site is using for cloud services. The two that seem to pop up the most are Cloudflare and AWS. The differences according to Quora:

          “Amazon is the Walmart of Cloud Computing. They offer almost everything and do not specialize in anything. As such they have a Basic CDN service called Cloudfront which provides basic services, features and support. One of the only thing really missing with AWS is a security solution.

          On the other hand Cloudflare is a specialized security startup which is mainly used to protect your site against DDoS and other malicious attacks. As a side benefit you will get some performance improvement similar to what CDNs offer but that’s not the main usage for Cloudflare.

          AWS and Cloudflare are also very different in size. Cloudflare is a small company with a limited number of employees.”

          No doubt Bezos would love to own the competition.

  12. vlade

    I’m going to tamper down a bit on the car oversupply optimism (sorry).

    Unless the chip shortage starts abating probably no later than mid November, and the cars are still out there over the winter, by the spring they may well be in condition where finishing and selling them will not be economical anymore, condemning them all to a scrap yard.

    I know that Skoda is stopping production at its factories now, and for the first time in years talking about reducing workforce. So far they have been very good at this, even with reduced production and all most of the workers were at 80% of their earnings, and as those include bonuses/overtimes, of which there was a lot before Covid, it’s far from penury.

    1. PHLDenizen

      I agree with this sentiment. The auto industry has transitioned itself into crapification, disposability, and virtually impossible to repair outside of the dealer. It’s the Apple model leaking its poison into an envious industrial sector.

      I drive a 2011 CX-9 with 90k miles. Recently took it in for a transmission rebuild and transfer case replacement. What should have been a week at most turned into three, the bulk of which was waiting on parts. The tech was incredibly frustrated at his inability to procure them without a long lead time. He’s unhappy. His customers are unhappy. And it’s every shop in the area.

      I considered buying a new car. Looked at BMWs. Was horrified to discover a large portion of the engine is plastic! Things like the radiator neck cracking, which necessitates replacing the ENTIRE radiator assembly. Techs have told me the lifespan is roughly 3 or 4 years before major and $$$ repairs show up. The auto industry is now built around leasing. Ownership isn’t cost effective because the cars fail catastrophically about the time the warranty expires. I don’t know why the engineers decided plastic exposed to extreme temperatures constitutes a wise choice.

      My Mazda has its issues, but I’m holding on for at least 2 more years since I know what to expect and can extrapolate maintenance costs. I work from home, don’t have a commute, and everything I shop for is local. Plus cheap insurance and no car payment. Cars are transportation and I have zero interest in using them to signal social status.

      Market value at lease end for some cars is now higher than the residual value. A buyout and resale to a private party or dealer can actually net you a profit — the latter being pretty desperate for used inventory.

      1. cnchal

        > I drive a 2011 CX-9 with 90k miles. Recently took it in for a transmission rebuild and transfer case replacement.

        That is as good a definition of crapification as any. At this point I would drive it till the transmission failed again then scrap it.

        BMW has been using plastic for intake manifolds, radiator end tanks, thermostat housings, coolant hose ends and valve covers for decades.

        Peak BMW was the E39 and E46 of the early 2000’s so wise move to stay away from the new stuff.

  13. Carolinian

    the Administration is doing almost as much wrong as it possibly could

    So is Biden going to be the new Herbert Hoover instead of the new FDR? Roosevelt’s common touch and zeal for practical solutions seems as far as possible from Biden’s crackpot performance so far.

    And re inflation I’m having a hard time remembering the last time gasoline here was over $3 (2008?). Plus as mentioned a couple of weeks ago Walmart has raised the price of all their merch or at least the few items I regularly buy. Since Walmart’s business model is all about price that seems significant.

    Plus I’m sure all of us who drive are eager to share the freeway with unlicensed tractor trailer drivers. But at least if we get flattened by an 18 wheeler we won’t have to worry about the coming war with China.


    1. ambrit

      “… unlicensed tractor trailer drivers…”
      A business opportunity. Go Looooooooong Personal Injury Attorneys.

  14. Dean

    Imagine if he got up and gave a presidential address that more or less said:

    Americans, particularly hourly employees like our essential workers in healthcare and the food industry, are hurting due to inflation as big companies are still raking in record profits. This has to stop.


    Will we ever see a truly transformative president/leader in our lifetimes or will we continue to get served up another dish with different spices from the same menu?

  15. Larry Y

    Agree that the messaging is bad. Use the bully pulpit to point out very high profits, shame the executive bonuses while workers and consumers take most of the pain. Point out how a pharma company just off-shored production of monoclonal antibodies. Hey, it’s shareholder value and “free market” at work!

    As for shortages:

    A lot of IT equipment is still long lead. I need to replace a Thunderbolt docking station, and my preferred models have been out of stock for months. Even Raspberry Pi has been affected. Luckily, haven’t had to deal with appliances or auto repairs (knocks on wood).

    Haven’t had or heard of issues getting prescription medication within my circle of friends including social media feed of the doctors I know. I do know people working in pharma manufacturing, and there are some labor issues there.

    Costco put limitations on toilet paper and paper towels, but it is getting restocked faster than previous shortages. If I owned my home, I might consider putting in commercial paper towel dispensers (spouse uses a lot).

    If anything, I’ve been seeing better availability of canned food, frozen vegetables, etc. at my local stores in NJ. Maybe a benefit of shorter supply chains, with warehouses nearby and many of the manufacturing plants are still local (though Mondelez closed a still profitable Nabisco plant closed a few months ago – offshore to Mexico, and it’s also a real estate play).

    For fruits, still seeing many varieties of apples, including my favored honeycrisps. Apple prices and prices for kiwi, mandarin/clementine, and bananas aren’t out of whack either. I’ve paid more and paid less.

    Local Asian grocery stores now have less empty shelves than most other times in the pandemic.

  16. petal

    Still having problems getting lab supplies and some reagents. The bioreactors I use to grow antibody are now backordered until somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Very bad news for me. Yesterday was not a good day. Prices have gone up quite a bit, especially for the bioreactors. Used to be able to reliably get a box of 3 for less than $800, now they’re anywhere from $900-$1400 depending on the supplier. When I call suppliers to ask about possible ship dates, a lot of times there’s no date for stuff. It’s open-ended. I have been trying to hoard what I can get ahold of. We have 2 scientific stockrooms at my university and they are having a heck of a time keeping things stocked-read: not able to. When I go down to get stuff, me and the stockroom guys have taken to laughing about the shortages. What more can you do? The campus computer store puts an announcement in the daily emails every couple weeks saying there’s a 4-6 week lead time.

    Gas for my car has gone up 10 cents/gallon in the last few weeks. Food has gone up. As I walk around the store, I notice that certain cuts of beef are up 25%, fresh scallops from the coast are up the same. Eggs are up as well. Even they are becoming a luxury. Paper towels are still exorbitant. Lots of empty shelf space and delayed deliveries. Last time I chatted with my mechanics, they were waiting to get fired for not getting the vaccines, and the company is already very short-staffed, and the garage part is booked pretty far out. People are driving very aggressively, taking risky chances, and are short-fused and angry. That’s the report from northern NH. It’s not good, and from the steps being taken by TPTB, I do not expect it to get better any time soon, I expect things to continue to worsen. They are happily compounding the problems.

    1. Paleobotanist

      Central stores in our university has been managing in Montreal with supply substitution so far. But I haven’t received the same make of falcon tubes from them once since Covid started. There’s rationing for dryerite of all strange things. Central stores is run by a Russian woman who seems pretty savvy and trained in hunting down scarce supplies;^) I have to order a bunch of reagents from Fisher over Xmas. Wish me luck it sounds like….

      1. petal

        Good luck! It seems really hit and miss, no good way of predicting. Some things make sense in the current pandemic situation, other things don’t. Better to play it safe and maybe order earlier, and get in the queue. Weird about the dryerite.

  17. Dave in Austin

    A supply chain is as weak as the number of links in the chain. So “overseas and cheap to buy” overlooks the links issue. Basic food is available but high-end consumers who have grown to expect exotic, cheap food are in for a disapointment.

    People have now heard about 40 foot shipping containers but the real breakthrough in international trade under WTO was created by ISO (International Standards Organization) standards 9000 and 9001, which meant that you could call some guy with a nice ad on Baidu, give him the specs and get what you expected; a bolt built to spec, with the right material, tested properly and verified with statistical samples- under penalty of forfiting his ISO stamp if he delivered a phoney, or substandard product.

    During WW II Ford produced most of the 15,000 B-24 bombers in an assembly plant in Detroit- with parts manufactured by subs and subs-of-subs all over the midwest, more than 10,000 of them. that network now exists in China, not here. We think of pre-WW I Great Britain as pro-free trade. It wasn’t, as anyone who wanted to export American textile machinery to India in 1925 knew. Free trade is a great slogan; merchantalism is often the reality.

    And all those little widgets made in China or Vietnam- rubber seals for diabetic injectors, low end process control chips for cars and valves, electric motors for washing machines assembled in Mexico, plastic caps in 20 colers for medicine bottles? Don’t worry; you can have them in 90% days… maybe.

    the new” $20K to ship a 40 foot container from China” world has led to the obvious- the dense and expensive cargos get priority, so don’t expect $10 toys and bulky washing machines anytime soon.

    The trucking issue is basic econ 101; pay the drivers more and the supply increases. I know too many ex-drivers who quit because the pay was roughly $60,000/year at best for weeks on the road. And California made it worse by passing a law mandating only newer trucks could be used in pollution-prone LA. So the immigrant Mexicans who actually drive the containers from the LA docks to the rail heads in Riverside woke up and discovered their old trucks coulden’t be admitted to the docks. Did the Guv admit the problem, call a special session, and get the law put on hold? Fat chance. That might create bad PR. And Biden? Call out the national guard. I can’t tell if his administration is just posturing or if it truly doesn’t understand the problem. But Democratic administrations aren’t filled with people with real industry experiece. I’m praying that he’s posturing.

  18. BillS

    I can’t help but think that this could be the “Crisis of the Third Century” for today’s US centered empire. In ancient Rome after the end of the era of the “Good Emperors”, political paralysis, military overextension, economic collapse and plagues threatened to bring down the empire. The collapse of central authority meant people would seek protection of local landholders and these same landholders would resist Rome’s efforts at taxation (sound familiar?) This attachment to local potentates laid the ground for medieval feudalism. Civil unrest made travel dangerous, irreparably damaging the extensive internal trade networks. Crippling labor shortages and fiscal collapse arose because most trades and important civil service jobs could no longer be filled, as salaries no longer met living expenses.

    The autocratic Diocletion staved off total collapse at the expense of increasing bureaucracy and ending many of Rome’s civil liberties (most notably, free movement). Many professions were made hereditary to ensure enough workers in critical areas.

    Like the USA, Rome’s economy had been hollowed out by its rentier class long before the crisis hit. The combination of military defeat, incompetent leadership and plague broke a system already in an advanced state of decay. Is something similar in store for us?

  19. rjs

    homes “under construction” are now at a record high, because they’re unable to finish them due to component shortages and other supply chain issues….with autos, the problem is thus hitting two big sectors of the economy..

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    I have only gone to the local supermarket once since people stopped wearing facemasks following the declaration of two-shots ‘protection’ from the Corona flu. I did go a month or so ago, early in the morning, during the week, to quickly get a bag of sugar and pick up a few others items — black beans and apple vinegar. The vinegar shelves were empty and the price for a 1 lb. bag of dry black beans had gone up by fifty cents. The vegetables that were available were all more expensive and in poor condition. I quit buying fruit from the supermarket long ago after buying so many fruits that looked ‘OK’ but were pithy, sour, mushy or otherwise unpalatable. I am wrestling with making the drive up the highway to a farm co-op that sells fruits and vegetables to the public by the bushel and box. I am toying with getting a box of a dozen bunches of red beets.

    Since the onset of the flu pandemic I have been ordering a lot of my groceries from The bags of rice I normally order were unavailable online for a while. Cans of tomatoes show up and then run-out — one day, tomato paste might be available but no tomato sauce or no tomato pieces. Several times I was unable to order a bag of dried plums like I usually buy. One time, honey was not available and the Kirkland peanut butter I strongly prefer has been unavailable for a while, although I was able to get almond butter. By shifting from in-store purchase to online purchases of food all my food costs have gone up. Last week I went into a Costco warehouse early one morning to pick up a prescription there. As long as I was inside the store I looked for ground turkey meat, but it was not available. I did succeed in getting a bag of brown rice, not available online. I also saw a fifty pound bag of parboiled rice for $8 that I almost bought but I already have around 30 pounds of rice and a 25 lb. bag of flour I bought a few weeks ago.

  21. ptb

    Electronics story is ongoing. I believe secondary effects of the summer panic-buy wave are now making their way thru the system. This includes the delay and resume wave hitting downstream process steps, staff diverted to dealing with shoehorning in unplanned substitutions into products, processing months-old panic-buy orders from customers, and attempting to make up for lost productivity with larger batch sizes.

    I’m concerned about possible impact of a 4-6 month period of very high global natgas prices. Affects metals, chemicals, plastics, fertilizers, you name it. Effects will arrive over the course of a year.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      And do not forget the phosphates problem linked to last week. That will impact agricultural prices.

  22. Left in Wisconsin

    Remember when, shortly after he took office, Biden “ordered” the vaccine makers to “ramp up” production and the vaccine makers “complied”? That all struck me as performative BS at the time, but it seemed to “work” in terms of generating positive headlines, and this “tackling the supply chain” seems like more of the same. None of these people – politicians or press – knows how anything actually works. They are confident none of the rest of do, either.

  23. Tom Bradford

    Here in New Zealand most prescribed medications are available at a flat $5 cost via Pharmac, a Govt. agency which negotiates with the drug manufacturers, bulk-buys and subsidises them.

    A couple of years ago Pharmac tried to save costs by dropping two of three brands of a particular mediation as they were, on paper, identical. Unhappily 5 people affected by the change died and many more, including me, were hit hard. Why, no-one has any idea.

    Fortunately Pharmac reversed its decision and I was back on the original stuff and better, but it was a salutary lesson, and worrying a warning to me that while shortages of people’s favourite brands of beans is annoying, having a car off the road is inconvenient and having to use newspaper instead of three-ply tissue is regrettable, there are some items for which the reliable continued supply can be a matter of life-or-death.

    1. lordkoos

      The drugs themselves might be identical, but the binders, fillers etc used to make them can vary a lot. Local pharmacists have told me stories of people having bad reactions and allergies to some generic drugs as a result. There doesn’t seem to be the same standards for generics as there are for patented drugs.

  24. Jim trutti

    Looks like Bidens dark winter is coming for real, just one year late.
    I think the idea that you can print trillions and expect workers to continue to show up while their real wages are being devalued so massively is about to be tested.
    I must confess, I am disgusted.
    I am 32 and been saving as much as we could with my wife for the last 5 years for a down payment to buy a house. End result, that dream is now as long as it has ever been as house prices doubled and my savings have been shrinking in value.
    Our plan to have a child postponed indefinitely.
    I don’t know where we went wrong, we are frugal, played by the rules, worked hard and paid our taxes. I feel robbed.

    1. IM Doc

      I am hoping that the dark winter never arrives. But I feel we must all be prepared. And by the way, you and your entire generation have been robbed. I was a faculty member at one of our best medical schools for decades. A good part of why I could no longer continue was watching as the system robbed your generation of its future with the ridiculous tuition and fees being charged.

      You have done nothing wrong – you have done everything the way I did when I was your age. I talk to 30 year old young men all day in my office – and the disappointment and resentment and realization of what has been done to them is sometimes overwhelming.

      I do not know what to say other than “hang in there and keep your head up.”

      1. Jim Trutti

        I don’t want to sound like a victim, I refuse to be one. I don’t want the government to help me. I can compete. I want the government to keep the playing field level.
        It looks to me that government policy is now exercised through the Fed. Fine, but Fed policy seems to be discretionary, no rules, just whatever a bunch of insider trading bankers decide the policy du jour is. It’s obvious by now, all it matters to them is enriching asset holders. Their policy is exclusively to their benefit while hiding behind the employment mandate.
        I understand people who speculate, invest in the stock market, take risks make money etc.
        But where does the Fed get the authority to keep interest rates below the inflation rate?
        That is daylight robbery for most people. If 5% dilution is good why not 50%?
        Isn’t Fed third congressional mandate to keep interest rates moderate?
        It truly feels we live in an oligarchy, yeah we get to vote, but the point of democracy is for people to rule, not just cast a vote.

    2. JBird4049

      >>>I feel robbed.

      You feel robbed because you were and are being robbed!

      Further, if one was to look at the rate the minimum wage increased after the Second World War to about 1970, it would be $25 or more per hour today. All the wealth created and all the money printed went almost entirely to the upper %1 with the majority of that to the %.0.01

      Almost all the factories have been shipped overseas, education at all levels crappified and at college level made insanely expensive, business of any kind consumed for the benefit of the financial sector; the whole economy has been eviscerated the government, the courts, and the police being used to keep the proles under control during the doing.

      The whole of society is one big grift done so that the rich get richer and the poor go die.

      1. ambrit

        I know I’m “whistling past the graveyard,” but I prefer to phrase your last point as: “And the poor go kill.”
        The problem with the preceeding is that mobs tend to turn on anyone, usually in a form of opportunistic acting out of rage. So, the main spate of “kinetic engagement” tends to be between close in “others.” The really poor rage against the near poor in the next ring suburb out from them. We are seeing that dynamic playing out now in the inner ring suburb we dwell in. The next escalation will be for the ‘step above’ group to initiate deadley force reprisals against the true poors who are acting out their rage. This sorry story is as old as human social organization.
        What is needed is leadership. As the “Oath Keepers” story shows, a loosely knit organization of like minded people can cooperate towards a common goal. The nature of that goal is not the point. The organizing principle is.
        As I have bemoaned before in these ephemeral communications, the American Left shows no understanding of the concept of “Will To Power.” Alas for us all, the Right does.
        Stay safe! Hull down.

    3. anonymous


      I’m slightly older than you and in a similar situation – one difference – I deliberately chose to have the child first, knowing that choice risked putting home ownership out of reach forever. Well, guess what– thanks to Biden’s policies, homeownership is (almost certainly) out of reach forever for our family, despite hitting our 2019-level down payment savings goals… but I regret nothing. My son is the joy of my life, and in some ways, he was what truly carried me through the darkest parts of this pandemic. And our little scrappy family can live anywhere – hell, we could even live in a tent, if it came to that. I wouldn’t exchange his existence for any piece of real estate under the sun.

      If you and your wife truly want a child, and not just to check the next box on society’s list–have that child right now. Life is short, and there are important things, and important things. Where’s there’s life, there’s hope. Wishing the best for you and your family.

  25. Alphonse

    I lack relevant knowledge or expertise to assess these, but here are some recent threads on supply chains.

    A whole series of threads, mostly from March-April 2020, about the supply chain failure.

    An on-the-ground report from a west-coast terminal:

    Rail has caught up. They have almost no rail containers left waiting to go out. One spot they are truly short labor is on maintenance. Spare parts are in short supply. So even if they did ramp into full ops they would struggle with yard equipment. There are chassis. The problem though is as they issue them out, and they break, there is no way to fix them. Those chassis are mostly for an on-wheels premium service but they can’t put the containers onto the chassis because they have nowhere to stage them.

    This one, by the Flexport CEO, proposes a number of government interventions.

  26. DrSloperWazRobbed

    LOL at open kimono! Never heard that before, had to google it, though I figured what it must mean.

    I’m of Filipino descent so you could argue that I find anything that makes fun of the Japanese funny, but that isn’t the case. I don’t have any feelings whatsoever in any way about any nationality.

    But in today’s bizarro climate on such issues being Asian does give me some ‘credibility'(ugh) to be able to say that is a super funny phrase that I’m glad I now know.
    I’m gonna use it all the time now.

  27. Adam Eran

    About trucking: worth remembering that it was Jimmy Carter who deregulated trucking (and airlines), showing Reagan how to do it. Teamsters endorsed Reagan in the next election

  28. Sound of the Suburbs

    Let’s design a global economy for maximising profit.
    Can you see a problem?
    No one could for four decades.

    Let’s learn the hard way.
    The neoliberals designed a global economy for maximising profit.
    The neoliberals had designed a global economy that had no resilience to any sort of shock.
    No one thought about anything other than maximising profit.
    An ideological triumph for the neoliberals, but a disaster for the global economy.

    Companies used to put money aside to tide them over when times got hard.
    Private equity firms stripped all the spare cash out of firms and loaded them up with as much debt as they could carry in the good times.

    Companies used to keep a lot of stock that would tide them over if there were any problems with supply.
    What a waste of money.
    Just in time delivery systems are what you need to maximise profit.

    Companies used to have spare capacity that they could bring online quickly when demand rose suddenly.
    What a waste of money.
    That spare capacity was just sitting idle most of the time.
    The NHS was whittled down so that there was no spare capacity sitting ready for unexpected emergencies, then Covid 19 came along.

    Gas was purchased with long term contracts, so there were would be no sudden price shocks. This did make it a bit more expensive for most of the time, but they were ensuring stability, and paying a small price in increased costs.
    We can make gas cheaper for most of the time if we just buy gas directly at spot prices.
    There was no protection against sudden price shocks.

    ….. etc …..

    This is the UK; it’s the same everywhere with the neoliberal ideology.

  29. Glen

    American MBAs spent thirty years off shoring manufacturing and just-in-timing supply chains. Thinking that will magically “get fixed” while at the same time declaring a new cold war on China is pure folly. America imports one third of this goods from China. It would take a Manhattan Project level effort to undo that at this point.

    Biden did a song and dance about Buy American, but it looks like Wall St has told Biden to shove that. Shortages are thus, here to stay, and implemented in a fashion to completely wipe out small businesses.

    I do not understand how all the the little local pseudo wealthy business owners don’t see the writing on the wall and tell their Congress critters to fix this while they still have some political power. They are about to get wiped out.

  30. sd

    We’re having problems with finding what used to be stock construction materials, such as glass, metal, particularly aluminum angle and flat stock, and some thicknesses of mdf and plywood. Wallcoverings and floorcoverings in particular are frequently out of stock – typically seeing 1 out of every 10 available. So most are out of stock with long lead times in the 8 week range. Vinyl materials used for signage, also out of stock. Also seeing shortages in resale materials such as used carpet tile.

    There was a brief shortage in certain paint bases that I think has now corrected.

    We’re trying to source to cities in other surrounding states but haven’t been very successful yet.

    I’ve heard from a friend working on a cook book that there’s a shortage in quality paper used by book publishers and to expect delays.

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