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OPINION | EDITORIAL: It's a small world after all

It’s a small world after all October 17, 2021 at 1:45 a.m.

The other day, we noticed a package of "cheap" bacon at $5.50. Gasoline at the local filling station was $2.89 a gallon. Car builders are waiting around for microchips to get in, pushing vehicle prices up.

If getting a handle on inflation was easy, the Biden administration would do something about it. You think it wants the political hassle (and possible loss of both chambers of Congress next year) that comes with these increases in prices? We'd suggest that spending $5 trillion more will increase demand for all items on the shelf by flooding the country with money. Especially after juicing the country with stimulus checks for 18 months. But there are other reasons for inflation. Such as pandemic-induced plant closures all over the world. And backed-up ports on both coasts in the new world. Asia isn't quite back at work. There's a global labor shortage. In many places, incoming ships have to wait in quarantine for weeks before they can be off-loaded. That is, if you can get ships; there's a shortage of those, too.

And there are other reasons for supply shocks. Fixing inflation might take a Rube Goldberg machine, and might be just as delicate.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that these bottlenecks and manufacturing slowdowns might continue "well into next year." Thankfully, this is already October. The paper didn't say what "well into" might mean. March? September?

As Will Rogers once said, all we know, we read in the papers.

The Independent out of the U.K. says shipping giant Maersk has started diverting ships away from British ports to other places in Europe, then using smaller vessels to deliver to the Isles. That seems a bit inefficient, blokes.

The Washington Post says the "floating queues" at the port of Los Angeles-- ships full of toys, electronics and furniture anchored at sea, waiting to be off-loaded--was unheard of before covid-19.

"If it wasn't on the water four weeks ago, it's not going to be here for Christmas," says an Australian supply chain guy, quoted in The Journal.

The Los Angeles Times warned in a story a few weeks ago: Do your Christmas shopping now, America. For come mid-December, inventory will be thin at the box stores, and some products that were scheduled to be released this fall might not be until 2022.

("Well into next year.")

CBS reported that large companies like Walmart can charter entire ships to deliver their stuff to small ports, then truck it to stores. But the "cost makes it out of reach for small businesses."

A story in The Christian Science Monitor last month quoted people saying the ports--and the warehouses and railroads and truckers that serve them--need to go to 24/7 schedules. But only in the last week did the port of Los Angeles go that far. How long before all those ships can be waved through is anybody's guess.

"It takes time to unwind that kind of congestion and we don't have time," Stephen Lamar, president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, told The Post. "These are the kind of actions that should have been taken months ago. This needs to be treated as the crisis that it is."

("Well into next year.")

What can get the knots out of the links, and put everything in the supply chain back in sync? An end to the pandemic, for starters. Then it'll take time for everything to normalize. Just as a flood has to have time to recede.

And we just have to hope "well into next year" is more like March and not September.

Print Headline: Well into next year


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