Chaos in the Supply Chain
This New York Times Headline says it all: ‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This’: Chaos Strikes Global Shipping.” Authors Peter S. Goodman, Alexandra Stevenson, Niraj Chokshi, and Michael Corkery explain it this way:
Americans stuck in their homes have set off a surge of orders from factories in China, much of it carried across the Pacific in containers — the metal boxes that move goods in towering stacks atop enormous vessels. As households in the United States have filled bedrooms with office furniture and basements with treadmills, the demand for shipping has outstripped the availability of containers in Asia, yielding shortages there just as the boxes pile up at American ports.
That’s not the only reason. Containers used to supply p.p.e. to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and other locations not on the major east-west shipping routes are still sitting in those ports. Why? Because few container ships are heading that way to pick them up. Most are being used to carry containers from Asia to North America and Europe.
Adding to the challenge are dock and other supply chain workers who have either gotten Covid or have had to work around it.
When will things get better? It seems, at least according to the article, that will happen when consumers switch back from spending on consumer products to spending on entertainment.
Ironically, that seems to mean the price for the supply chain straightening out will be decreased consumer product demand by consumers, a win-lose proposition for toy companies and retailers.
A Ban on Girls and Boys Departments in California?
The Daily Mail has given us this headline: “California is set to ban boys and girls sections in big toy stores in latest gender-neutral push to create a ‘safe space for children’.” According to the article’s author, Rory Tingle, there is a bill (Assembly Bill 1084) floating around that will forbid gender signage in retail stores or on retail websites for companies with more than 500 stores. The bill does not affect adults, only children.
Container Ship Operators Bet on China
Despite the aforementioned chaos in the supply chain and talk by some manufacturing moving back home, the shipping companies are betting that manufacturing will stay put in China. That’s according to Wall Street Journal writer Costas Paris in his article “Container Ship Operators Are Betting on China’s Factory Resurgence.” Mr. Paris writes:
Shipping lines have placed, or have in the wings, orders for dozens of new ultra-large box ships designed to move massive amounts of cargo on each voyage…Other carriers are taking on ships nearly as large, with capacity for about 15,000 of the standard 20-foot containers. These ships fill trade lanes between China and the U.S., routes that in recent months have been backed up with vessels filled to the brim with goods.
By making investments of this type and size, shippers are betting that the post-corona world will be a lot like the pre-corona world, manufacturing in China and consumption everywhere else.