The “Everything Shortage”: Why Is Everything so Expensive & out of Stock?

My take on a massive mess.

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  143 comments for “The “Everything Shortage”: Why Is Everything so Expensive & out of Stock?

  1. joe2 says:

    Why is 25% of residential real state bought by investors?

    • joe2 says:

      Why is 25% of residential real estate bought by investors?

      (Sorry, I had a secretary and typist in a previous life.)

      • Anthony says:

        Joe2

        When the future looks tough, people buy land…

      • Wolf Richter says:

        I didn’t even see the typo until you pointed it out :-]

        In terms of your question, I’ll pass that on to someone else.

      • Philip says:

        In Australia, it is because deductions like interest and agent fees are normally higher than the assessable income like rents received and the net amount is deductable, at a taxpayers marginal rate against other assessable income. Capital Gains made on sale are halved before being added to assessable income and the sale can be deferred until the taxpayer is in a low assessable income year.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        Speaking of typos … a related problem is investors paying for Presidential (not just residential) real estate.

        Who provided Obama with the funds to splurge on Martha’s Vineyard?
        What services had he provided for them, to earn such bonuses?

        What will the “quid” be for all of Biden’s “pro quos”?

        • Alba says:

          @wisdomseeker Really?! Obama has sold a shit ton of books. Plus ex-Presidents earn a pension and plenty of lucrative speaking fees if they are interesting.

        • Brian says:

          He got fronted an enormous, almost unheard of, bonus for his book from a subsidiary of the company that was granted a multi hundred million dollar contract to invent common core. The same common core which is the bane of most parents who try to help their kids with basic math problems.

        • MsASmith says:

          Pres. Obama, with a fine mind and elegant grasp of the English language, has earned quite a bit of money from his writing.
          His books have always sold well.

          And I’m sure, along with many, he’s done well in the stock market investing his book profits.

          This route rather than skimming profits from small businesses via multiple bankruptcies and ethical malfeasance.

    • Cem says:

      Zillow just this past week stopped purchases of single family homes. It was due to “labor shortages” in regards to repairs/upgrades. Wouldn’t you just taper purchases not just outright stop?

      My theory is they have a ton of inventory sitting they can’t get rid of. And they’re far from the only fund with that issue. I’ll be curious to see the mortgage app rate report when that comes out.

      • Jake W says:

        yeah, that’s bs. if you’re so confident prices are going to continue to go up, you just hold on to them and wait until labor for repairs/upgrades is available. they’re worried that values will plummet in that interim period.

      • Depth Charge says:

        Almost every single Zillow flip is now priced below what they paid for it, and that doesn’t even include the “improvements.” They have been losing millions.

        • qt says:

          But they will make it up on volume right?

        • Happy1 says:

          Their two most recent sales in my neighborhood both lost 10K or so

        • RockHard says:

          Yep. There’s a house on my block that is supposedly under contract that last listed price was about 10% less than what Zillow paid. Meanwhile the other big house flip operation sent me postal mail offering to buy my place. Seems like this is a Zillow problem, not a labor problem

      • RogerUSA says:

        Zillow stopped purchases of single family homes on planet Earth??

    • robert says:

      Because it’s offered for sale and money is free.

    • The Real Tony says:

      The Chinese mainly only buy real estate as an investment. It must be in their genes or DNA code when they’re born. It’s a cultural thing.

      • Prince Gbanga says:

        I somehow doubt that something that’s only been possible since the mid-1990s is “in their DNA”… or even cultural for that matter. Unless you mean pop culture.

      • Happy1 says:

        They don’t trust government or stock market. Those who can get money out of the country will do so. Older people remember the CCP confiscation of all property in 1949.

    • historicus says:

      VRBO changed everything

      BUT THE REAL ANSWER IS …

      EVEVERYONE is looking for any type of return on investment out side the stock market….
      and if you can get something that beats inflation, you do it…
      BECAUSE the Fed won’t fight inflation …. just ask them

    • historicus says:

      Blackrock and others ….. huge real estate plays…
      but only Blackrock “advises” the Fed and is in their tent

      Why does the Fed buy MBSs nearly 3% below the current inflation rate with record housing prices…essentially pouring gas on the fire?

      Why is the Fed partnered up with an entity that is involved in such? The optics, at the very least, are awful.

    • c1ue says:

      Because they have been fooled (again) into extrapolating present into the foreseeable future.
      Specifically: high and rising cap rates vs. a low bank/risk free interest rate.
      This has worked for a generation: the Fed 2 and 10 year Treasury rates have been falling consistently since 1970.
      Will this continue in the near future? I personally think not, given inflation. I don’t see a Volcker style “shock and awe” campaign like in 1982, but I can’t help but think interest rates will rise at least some in order to “tame inflation” – which, if you recall, is what the Fed is supposed to do. The other thing being keeping employment levels high but that’s gone out the window long ago.
      But as I’ve noted elsewhere: the 2022 elections are right around the corner. The sitting President’s party typically get hammered in these types of midterm elections; 70+ million angry Americans over POTUS election 2020 plus high inflation and shortages could make this coming midterm historic. I’m talking Gingrich Contract For America historic.

  2. MCH says:

    It’s not a mess…. It is an opportunity.

    I know this sounds wrong, but when you have a bunch of broken eggs, you better start making omelettes.

    Contrary to some wishful thinking at the leadership level, this stuff ain’t going to be transitory.

    Toilet paper has been limited at Costco for a month again. I can’t wait for material prices to spike again when infrastructure and build back better finally get put through Congress. Unless law of reality has been repealed, there is not going to be more materials conjured out of thin air. Yes, these projects will be longer term, it would just make the problem last longer.

    • Bobber says:

      I think the additional infrastructure stimulus has been priced in at this point. The finalization of a stimulus bill could be reason for some selling. Material prices are very high right now. It’s hard to say.

      • MCH says:

        We will see, heard that plywood prices are still more than 3x a year ago, and lumber prices have dropped since the craziness early this year.

        The Fed unleashed a monster last year, aided and abetted by both this and the last administration, now it’s going to wreak havoc.

        Wolf is right, Biden is going to beg whoever the new chairman of the Fed is to raise rates. Otherwise, it’s going to make stagflation in the 70s look like a training exercise.

        • Guido says:

          Not going to happen.

        • kam says:

          Mill prices/Cash prices not futures.

          2x4spf peaked at $1700/Mbf this spring dropped below $400 before rising back around $600, or more depending on tallies.

          2×4 studs, peaked around $1500, dropped to the low 300’s and now selling around $410.
          Plywood and OSB sheathing peaked around $1400/msf/ $45/sheet, crashed and now rising above $16/sheet.
          High prices have bankrupted many along the supply chain. And many of the many are large walking dead, not yet formally declared.
          Inflation isn’t some benign exercise, effecting everyone equally. Price discovery is smashed and unrecognizable.

        • historicus says:

          “Biden is going to beg whoever the new chairman of the Fed is to raise rates.”

          No one in Biden’s position would ever do that ….
          Inflation hurts the little people….
          IT enriches the fully invested … the powerful.

          Remember, Trump wanted NEGATIVE rates….

          The stock market is the barometer for the Presidents…..as errant as that might be

        • Prince Gbanga says:

          Plywood is back to normal here, $1/sqft for CDX. Same for OSB.

          2×4 studs are still up about 50% from pre-pandemic, but that’s just ordinary inflation — everything is 50% more expensive now. At one point studs were up 400%.

    • COWG says:

      MCH,

      Bidet, my friend, bidet… the kind that attaches to the toilet…

      Bought my first a few years back and will never be uncivilized again…

      Minimal TP, a stack of junk mail and an old Sears catalog has me ready for the hoarders…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “Toilet paper has been limited at Costco for a month again.”

      My Costco was sold out when I went there two weeks ago. Something about Costco — badly managed house-brand TP supplier? — because there was a TON of TP at the Safeway, all kinds of package sizes, including these near-Costco-esque bales of TP, all brands and price levels.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Sam’s Club will have it’s larger version of product out of stock at convenient times, while Walmart will have plenty of the smaller/more expensive version in stock! Some type of game is being played.

      • Depth Charge says:

        I do not shop at Costco, and I have never experienced a toilet paper or paper towel shortage. I did see a few times early on in the pandemic where the shelves were more empty than others, but not even a single time was I ever not able to buy.

      • MCH says:

        It’s an interesting dynamics if you’ve price compared when you shop, and if you have a few reference points over a long period of time, it gives you a good sense of trend. Mine reference points had always been Dreyer’s ice cream at Safeway, and gallon of milk at TJ. 2009 was when I first noticed the shrinkflation phenomenon.

        Interesting that the Costco you went to was out, the ones I visited had stock, but the limit was imposed. The house brands I noticed they always had, it’s the branded ones that periodically goes missing.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          the only home-style TP (not the huge commercial rolls of parchment paper used in office towers) I have ever seen at Costco is Kirkland, which is their house-brand. But that’s the only Costco I know.

        • Jake W says:

          costco sells charmin too, but obviously, for much more money than the kirkland brand

        • MCH says:

          @wolf

          A long time ago, in upstate NY, there was an area with a bunch of Wegman’s, this is a NE grocery chain. The ones in the area had different names, like ghetto Weg, Fancy Weg, and Meg Weg.

          So to take your example, yours must have been to Ghetto Costco.. 🤪

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Safeway owns their own warehouses. They didn’t outsource this function. Today, Safeway was well stocked with all the non-food items that I normally buy every week. They have higher prices than some of the competitors but they have the stock. At least so far.

      • California Bob says:

        re: “… including these near-Costco-esque bales of TP …”

        Pretty funny. I’ve been driving hay balers for a farmer friend the last few weeks, and they are about the size of the Costco TP ‘bales,’ except the hay and alfalfa bales weigh as near to 100lb as we can make them.

      • csmith says:

        Maybe its not Costco…maybe Costco shoppers are just dumber than others ???

        • A. Morrison says:

          Csmith: I shop at Costco and can prove to you that your theory is wrong. 😉

        • c1ue says:

          Costco has an interesting customer profile: $100K plus income, 2 cars, large dwelling.
          Costco ain’t about selling to cost-conscious people; it is selling to people who want to pretend to care about cost but don’t want the effort of tracking sales and inventory. They want to go and get something “close enough” to discount but without the many more trips to the store.

      • Winston says:

        I’ve looked on psychology sites to see if they have an explanation for why people hoard TP and they provided nothing I consider particularly insightful.

        It is definitely a cascade problem where if people see the TP shelves emptying, they pick some up whether they need it or not. That then leads to problems with manufacturing capacity versus spiked demand.

        Also, considering the transportation shortage and what I’d guess to be TP’s high physical volume to profit ratio, maybe TP takes a back seat (no pun intended) to other products in the available 18-wheelers?

  3. Mr. House says:

    Inventory plummeting in the automobile industry……. you will own nothing and you will enjoy it! Any bets that gas is 5$ or higher by Jan 1st? What came first, the financial crisis or it which shall not be named?

    • Depth Charge says:

      Already there. I just paid $5.19 for diesel.

      • Twinkytwonk says:

        In the UK the price for a u.s gallon of fuel works out at $8. You guys have a way to go yet :)

        • Depth Charge says:

          In the UK they don’t drive nearly as far as in the US. You would be stupefied by the distances some people commute on a daily basis, and what their monthly fuel consumption amounts to.

      • Guido says:

        Just the Biden tax.

    • Ron says:

      Go to east or west coast already 5$ a gallon

    • Swamp Creature says:

      One station near me has gas priced at $4.99 for premium. No one has hit $5 yet

  4. Mr. House says:

    “Contrary to some wishful thinking at the leadership level, this stuff ain’t going to be transitory.”

    Are you so certain they aren’t lying to you?

  5. Mendocino Coast says:

    I am finally seeing a large rise in Classic Cars :
    something I know about . kind of sat still at first but now took off
    They are Great all self contained as long as they still have Gas .
    No cords /or power outlets needed at all just roads and Gas
    Much safer than Modern Cars full of real steel safer in accident
    no defective Air Bag to kill you . ( Yes Air Bag’scan Kill you )

    • Depth Charge says:

      I love an old car as much as anybody, but those things with their lap belts are death traps.

      • Corp says:

        In many ways they’re safer. No one who owns and maintains a classic car is driving like a bat out of hell. And no one who knows the worth of a classic car is going ride its bumper or cut it too close.

        • California Bob says:

          You’re saying the drivers of classic cars drive ‘safer’ because they don’t have 3-pt harnesses, air bags, crumple zones, etc. True enough. My Austin-Healeys have solid steel steering shafts–roughly the shape of a javelin and probably 20 times heavier–pointed straight at my sternum. Fortunately, the steering boxes are so low to the ground the housewife’s CUV will likely ride right over them.

          No car is ‘safe’–I dislike the use of the word, in fact, outside of baseball–but modern cars are infinitely more crash-worthy. I taught my son to drive in one of the Healeys to disabuse him of the thought that driving is in any way ‘safe’ (last I heard from him he was learning to ‘drive’ a Navy cruiser).

    • Seneca's Cliff says:

      Classic cars have many good attributes, but safety is not one of them. Just look on you tube for one of the videos of a modern crash test done with a vintage car. There is one with an early 60’s chevy Bel Air that is shocking and scary ( the thing literally disintegrates). I used to hanker for an old VW Westie, until I saw the video of an 80’s Vanagon crash test (ouch!). Thick steel and big hoods does not necessarily add up to safety.

      • Mendocino Coast says:

        All VW’s are a Very Poor Car to equate related to Safety
        American Classic are Heavy Steel and they are in fact Very Safe . Many of them with Lap Belts already have Bolts in place to update to a 3 Point  Hitch , As well it’s easy to convert to a 3 Point Hitch BTW and not costly !
        1 American Car up to about 1955 has as much Heavy Steel in it to make 3 or 4 VW Vanagons however just look at the Bumper’s ! on a 1955 on back American Car all the way and you will see right Away a Huge Difference And you don’t need to be any expert to see that .  The whole Air Bag Idea in General was and is a good Idea but it took several years to perfect . I was a New Car Pre Delivery Line Mechanic  and a Smog inspector ( one of the first ones in Ca ) in 1966 in Fact They had only 3 Devices Can you believe it then.  A whole industry grew right selling Smog Crap so they could get rich selling SMOG . The Cars would no longer run right with all that SMOG crap so to get them to Idle Smooth so they could keep selling that Crap what they came up with was the 195 degree Thermostat almost boiling the water and right away the Cars Motors lifetime shrank by about 45 % toward the End of that Motor . If I buy such a Car the first thing I do is install a 160 Degree Thermostat  and try to save the Motor before it bake’s to an early grave .

    • c1ue says:

      The old cars are great except for fuel economy.
      And parts.

  6. Matthew Brandley says:

    Past 2 years every major railroad closed yards, closed warehouse . Laid off thousands. Those employees have retired or found other jobs. Nobody wants to work in a unstable high stress environment now that the RR have created. 4 mile long trains. Abandoned lines. Abandoned and angry customer. Union pacific just announced today that starting the 23 it’s intermodal yard outside port of Los Angeles will be open a additional 20 hours a week.

    Trucks. New emissions regs forbid any older than 2010 to run in California. Looking on the port of l a web site last night the registration and drayage fees are outrageous. Over half the trucks and locomotive that where able to run in CA can no longer due to emissions.

    Warehouses. This is real simple. If we had a warehouse industry that works 24/7 not one ship would be sitting anywhere right now.
    Truck driver and CDL shortage. Most dlc where closed for months during virus. Many drivers including mass transit which has been hit extremely hard, have retired. Nobody has been able to take CDL until recently. Where I live in Maryland and from what I am told in s e Pennsylvania, CDL testing has been booked from summer until next year

    • Rowen says:

      The demographics cliff hitting another industry dominated by old white Boomers, who are retiring in droves. Outside the box thinking says that we need an all-expenses paid boot camp for these hard to fill positions. Find a decommissioned military base, and let anyone who wants to be a CDL driver, railway engineer, welder, or electrician come to apprentice.

      *(the people who can afford the training probably won’t take the jobs; the people who will take the jobs can’t afford the training)

      • The Real Tony says:

        All the boomers would be retired today but freedom 55 fell by the wayside as the world economies went down the drain.

  7. JC says:

    Anyone with a controls systems background will not be surprised by this. The supply chain is a highly optimized system that is unable to withstand a perturbation the size of the covid-19 pandemic. Actually that’s one-way you characterize a system. Subject it to a step function and measure the response. The pandemic was the step function. It’s a highly complex system un-modelable yes, but the behavior is not a big mystery. It happens to systems.

    • Michael Gorback says:

      I discussed this several times in earlier posts. The more efficient the system the less redundancy, which means there’s no backup mechanism. This not not brain surgery, although the entire system could use some.

      • Truckman says:

        I presume you mean “short-term financial efficiency assuming high stability in all parameters” when you say “efficiency”.
        Any genuinely efficient real-world system possesses flexibility and redundancy.
        What we have here, worldwide, is what happens when accountants and lawyers make operation decisions.

    • Truckman says:

      I used to lecture in controls systems. Your general point is correct. However, the key points are that:
      1) The supply chain has received multiple excessive step inputs to more than one parameter, and at multiple stages of the process.
      This essentially means that the system cannot fix itself. A change at one broken point of the system may either have no ability to fix the system, or indeed may make the situation worse. An example would be the decision to run the Long Beach Port 24/7. We have had reports that not only are the truckers not available to remove the increased number of containers unloaded, but this will further exacerbate the problem of being unable to find any particular container among the temporary storage areas.
      2) There are now multiple components of the system, this being a free market, who have a vested interest in delaying or even preventing the system recovering. This ranges from some end consumers increasing purchases above normal demands to build their own stock, to intermediate merchants hoarding supplies to increase the price. I had a first-hand report this week that the latter is definitely happening with lumber.

      To fix such a system requires a central person to take charge who is both able and willing to both correctly assess and implement the necessary changes. However, he’s not capable of any of those things, and furthermore is on two months paternity leave with no deputy. Please note this is not an ad hominem, the current transportation secretary does not have the experience or knowledge of logistics to even assess any so-called expert advice, much less originate policy, nor the power/legal authority to dictate the necessary fixes to most of the system components. If anyone is to blame it is the person who appointed him.

      • kam says:

        “the latter is definitely happening with lumber.”
        If you held onto lumber inventory, say, 1 railcar load, at the peak this Spring, then you would have had a $150,000 ride to the bottom by summer. Now in October, you would have reduced your loss to about $130,000.
        Notwithstanding specific circumstances, in smaller volumes in specific areas, hanging onto any commodity has risk involved, especially if you are not aware of costs. Framing lumber costs $300-$400/Mbf to produce.

        • Truckman says:

          Agreed, with finished lumber at a merchants or consumer.
          However, the report I got was that lumber is being held by the lumber yards, post-processing but pre-sale to the merchants. The yards aren’t paying any more than they did last year for the raw materials (I get some raw lumber for firewood, and I’m paying the same for that as pre-Covid), their labor costs are only marginally higher, and the storage is essentially free.

      • Rg says:

        Some basic math at the top level could be readily applied to determine the constraints (bottlenecks) in the ship offload/distribution process at each port. It really wouldn’t be that hard for a Theory of Constraints (TOC) expert to address, but it would take one expert for each port. And they’d have to have a sponsor to get all the process stakeholders to cooperate with them to provide data, etc. as well as implement the required solutions.

        Sadly, I don’t think the Federal or state governments have their act together enough to pursue this in an effective or timely manner. So it’s going to be chaos for several years as the system tries to self-correct. That’s going to result in a lot of redundancy and unnecessarily higher costs to get the system stabilized again.

        • baldski says:

          I will give you some basic math at seaports. Take LA/Long Beach, if you have 100 container ships at anchorage, and you are running 24/7, how can you increase container throughput without building new wharf space and container cranes? Answer, you can’t. Until 24/7 operations starts cutting into the anchorage buildup, we will have shortages.

      • c smith says:

        EVERY system is fixable, and it happens more quickly if the incentives to fix it are properly in place and flexible. IOW, the price mechanism fixes everything from the bottom up – given the chance. The LAST thing we need is more top down control.

  8. Mr. House says:

    ‘When it becomes serious, you have to lie’.
    – Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

    and holding onto power is always serious ;)

    • Depth Charge says:

      ‘When it becomes serious, you have to lie’.

      And therein lies the problem – the FED and CONgress think it is their God given right to lie through their teeth about anything and everything. These people are going to hell.

      • Corp says:

        True. I mean for all my adult life I’ve been voting for the better liar.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          🤣

          Gonna steal that, if you don’t mind.

        • kam says:

          “better liar”
          Double entendre, nice.

        • historicus says:

          “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.” — H.L. Mencken

        • Winston says:

          “The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.” – Excerpt from Gustav Le Bon’s “The Crowd” (1895)

        • Winston says:

          “The state — or, to make matters more concrete, the government — consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting ‘A’ to satisfy ‘B’. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods.” – H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)

        • robert says:

          Telling the truth in politics is a career killer. Also known as a gaffe.

      • historicus says:

        Depth
        Well said.
        When you lie to the government, big violation.
        When the government lies to you…..its just another day.

  9. Ralph Hiesey says:

    Wolf, Just finished watching the video.

    GREAT discussion of supply problems. It illustrates why I think you need to weight somewhat more blame for inflation on supply problems, rather than only the Fed or excessive consumer stimulus.

    I also think the Fed policy of dumping huge money is a path for which will have to no graceful end. I fear taper will be a unavoidable future disaster.

    • Depth Charge says:

      “Just in time” manufacturing and the offshoring or production, AKA GREED, has proven to be a failed model. But don’t hold your breath for anything to change. Nope, they’re going to continue with the status quo and blame everything on “COVID.”

    • c smith says:

      The disaster was the money printing. The SOLUTION is reversing it.

    • Happy1 says:

      Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.

      Milton Friedman

      There isn’t a single instance in history that I’m aware of when inflation was not preceeded by an increase in money supply. Care to suggest otherwise? The supply chain problems are result of extra money chasing too few goods. Not vice versa.

  10. djreef says:

    Long DJP, SUN, SHLX, EPD, REMX

    DK

  11. Bull&Bear says:

    As always, I liked to hear Wolf’s opinion on supply chain issues. I watched it live yesterday. Thank you, Wolf!

  12. Swamp Creature says:

    I’m noticing routine items missing from the shelves of my local grocery chain store. Today they were out of my favorite Diet Cranberry juice, and cotton balls. I went to another store of the same name and the same things were missing too. Went to Safeway and they were out of produce that I buy regularly. I’ve never seen anything like this. The only thing not missing was junk food and Halloween candy. People, were loading up on all this crap. No wonder so many people are overweight and in poor health. The pandemic has locked everyone down and now healthy food is getting so expensive, and hard to get, if it is even in stock. What a sad state of affairs. No one is even talking about this.

    • Tom10 says:

      Its fall time. Harvest season. Venny in the freezer. Local beef and pork as well.
      Gardens were a bumper crop in my area.
      Apple harvest not bad. Local honey production was great.
      Twinkie crop got hammered by the frost.

  13. Rory says:

    Wolf, anyone ever tell you that you have kind of a Willem Dafoe thing going?

    Hollywood. Might be next…

  14. Tolerance4 says:

    Some of this can be solved by buying American. He mentions the shortage of commercial glass for new buildings. Ford’s old glass division specialized in selling both auto glass and commercial glass. They have two glass factories in the U.S., Nashville and Tulsa. Also, they have a factory in Mexico. After being sold to an entrepreneur in 2009, and going through bankruptcy in 2012, Ford Glass is now owned by PPG Glass. Buy your commercial glass from PPG Glass, and it will most likely be made in one of these three plants. Even though it is cheaper, don’t buy your commercial glass from China. Buy it here from PPG, and it will be delivered much faster.

    • c smith says:

      PPG no longer makes glass. They divested the glass division in 2016.

    • Winston says:

      “Some of this can be solved by buying American.”

      Good luck with that. A much more achievable alternative would be to go into a subsistence, buy only what you absolutely need mode.

      • p coyle says:

        “collapse first, and avoid the rush,” – JMG

      • Truckman says:

        Further, buy used stuff.
        Further still, buy used tools, and either repair used stuff or make your own new from locally sourced materials.
        If you or someone in your area can’t repair or build new as above, then you probably don’t need it.

        p.s. Used stuff from the 1950/60s generally lasts a lot longer. My current washing machine is 50 years old, and was free to collect. It’s worked great for 4 years so far. It’s a bit noisy, and only has 3 washes. I prewash in a bucket if necessary. I can fix everything on it myself with 2 wrenches and a big screwdriver. The timer is a clockwork spring.

        • Cookdoggie says:

          In Tacoma there is a Tool Library run by a nonprofit. You pay a membership fee and can borrow unlimited tools. It’s awesome, I use it often.

  15. Alex says:

    Wonder if Wolf is still cutting his own hair. Nice work.

    • Xavier Caveat says:

      Cutting your own hair is so 2020, all the cool kids are doing self-dentistry now.

    • Michael Gorback says:

      I’ve been cutting my own hair since college. Was a lot easier just lopping off the end of a pony tail in the 70s, but over the years I figured the cost and time just weren’t worth it.

      Watch what they do and you’ll figure it out in no time. I just measure by finger width. The hardest part is getting the back straight.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Alex,

      Yes. Rear left is hardest because my hand with the clippers blocks my view. Getting pretty good at going by feel: cut with eyes closed, stop, look in the mirror, nod approvingly, hope no one looks at it :-]

      • Michael Gorback says:

        You have a wife who can do that.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I take pride in being able to take care of my own crap.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Best way is to cut it the way you want it, then go ask the wife, who after all is the one who has to look at it mostly, if she would like to ”touch it up” to her vision…
          Diplomacy may be lost/unneeded for you young boner types, but is still strong with us older than boomers,,, eh

        • Michael Gorback says:

          A razor isn’t toilet paper.

        • kam says:

          My wife cuts my hair and in return I have a standing offer to cut her’s.
          Odd thing though….She has never taken up the offer.

      • BrianC - PDX says:

        I have lost half of mine. So I just put the #3 on the clippers and buzz what is left to the same length. EZ Peasy. :)

        It’s a *lot* easier than shearing sheep. Goes a lot faster too.

    • DawnsEarlyLight says:

      Where’s that Flobee when you need it!

  16. Swamp Creature says:

    My Dentist got my new bridge delivered on scheduled. No supply shortage there. Fits great and feels great. That was the best $7,800 I ever spent. Ins said they will pay about $2,600. On the bright side I helped boost the GDP.

  17. DR DOOM says:

    After all the fiat stimulus to date the Fed (beige book) said today economic growth was modest to moderate. Whatever that means. What happens now going forward without free money and the PPP grants and the end of forbearance. I say that Congress will want to juice it again before the mid-terms. The new religeon is that the Fed can print the economy. I can’t wait for the sound of the money printer going Brrrrrrrrrr…… I have missed the sound of magic.

  18. Mark says:

    The stores are trying to put me on a diet. No ben and jerrys in the flavor I like for months now at multiple stores. No cookies that I like. No bake at home sourdough bread that I make pizzas with.

    At this rate I’ll be healthy and thin in a few months. Thanks, Biden.

    • RedRaider says:

      I’m boycotting Ben N Jerry’s. Can’t remember exactly why. I’m boycotting so many lately I can’t keep the reasons straight. I should just boycott everyone on GP. With all the shortages I guess I sort of am.

  19. SpencerG says:

    Today at Walmart for exactly one dollar I bought a can of Bush’s Black Beans that normally costs 88 cents.

    • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

      Just came from Walmart. Wow they rolled away the cost savings. 12 pack of Pepsi $6. 12 pack of Cherry Pepsi $8. Pass. Really surprised as I rarely buy outside my normal routine but the kid is coming over. Wolf Report is what got me out so i could load up on TP and PT in bulk. Sticker shock. Did something I rarely do and read the full receipt to make sure I wasn’t double billed for anything. This inflation rubbish can go back to the dumpster fire COVID started

    • Mongoose says:

      Goya!
      They cost a little more but worth it.

    • Old School says:

      When money gets tight you can switch to dried beans. Plus you get to control the salt.

      • Winston says:

        Hey, you just applied the “substitutions” adjustment technique used to “correct” the CPI (Changing Propaganda Index)!

    • robert says:

      House brand cream (not Walmart) went up 20% the other day.
      But not milk. Maybe the cream cows went on strike.

  20. Mongoose says:

    Goya!
    They cost a little more but worth it.

    Back to killin’ snakes
    Mongoose

  21. Glen says:

    Ports backed up?

    Make it in America. Don’t go through a port.

  22. c1ue says:

    Wolf,
    I saw a commentary saying that at least some of the supply shortages are due to CARB passing a new environmental regulation which takes half of the existing big rigs off California hauling.
    This is clearly not the entire explanation for the supply chain issues, but it would seem that taking half of the truck carrying capacity off the road – on top of driver shortages and container turnaround etc – would be a significant factor.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      That commentary you saw is nonsense.

      1. It was railroads that caused the biggest issue at the port of LA when their rail yards in other states were backed up, and they stopped taking containers from the port for a week at a time, which caused an instant pile-up of containers.

      2. Driver shortages are REAL.

      3. The law went into effect on Jan. 1 2020 (last year pre-Covid), and was announced years ago, and it didn’t cause any issues in Jan and Feb 2020.

      4. Vehicles with 2010 engine model year or newer are fully compliant. Only 2009 model year and older trucks are not. The industry had lots of time to adjust, and it did adjust.

      5. These over-the-road trucks drive a lot of miles in a year. And they can still run with over 1 million miles on them. But at some point, if they’re still running, they’re switched to short-haul services for construction companies, etc. because they become too unreliable for over-the-road service.

      6. I cannot believe that one nonsense piece someone was likely paid to produce (sponsored post) lights up the internet like this with some clickbait title that was then picked up around the internet by all kinds of other publications.

  23. Winston says:

    I sincerely hope that the “Everything Shortage” is the pin that so belatedly pops the “Everything Bubble.”

  24. RedRaider says:

    I see De Santis just announced JAXPORT was ready willing and able to handle the cargo.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      So why doesn’t it? It has been there all along. Backed up too?

      • robert says:

        JAXPORT has already been taking megatons – they’ve been setting new records – they just haven’t made a fuss about it. But it is somewhat more awkward, having to go through Panama (if they fit!). On the upside, instead of sitting dead in the water in L.A., at least the boats could be moving.

    • Happy1 says:

      The biggest ships from Asia can’t fit through Panama canal, until they can, the East coast will be a much smaller cargo hub.

  25. Winston says:

    ‘Desperate for tires.’ Components shortage roils U.S. harvest
    OCT 12, 2021

    Dale Hadden cannot find any spare tires for his combine harvester. So the Illinois farmer told his harvest crew to avoid driving on the sides of roads this autumn to avoid metal scraps that could shred tires.

    Farmers say they are scrambling to find workarounds when their machinery breaks, tracking down local welders and mechanics. Growers looking to buy tractors and combines online are asking for close-up photos of the machine’s tires, because replacements are expensive and difficult to find, said Greg Peterson, founder of the Machinery Pete website which hosts farm equipment auctions.

  26. HudsonJR says:

    I’ve been dealing with supply shortages where I work for months. One of the biggest issues is we have project manager types sitting at home, ordering equipment in bulk and just doing it based on looking at a spreadsheet or budget.

    I have people losing their mind that the spreadsheet says they don’t have enough equipment. Meanwhile equipment arrives at an office and:

    * Initial setup is slow due to lack of workers and lack of in-office staff
    * Equipment gets deployed, but team that owns it isn’t doing the final setup
    * Hiring is slower so not as much equipment is needed

    I’ve literally had people wanting to order 100 units of something, while 250 units are still sitting unused because of the above.

  27. Winston says:

    24 Oct 2021

    Petersen said his firm hired a boat captain to tour Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, which account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the U.S. He said during the three-hour loop through the ports, passing every single terminal, “we saw less than a dozen containers get unloaded.”

    He said the twin ports have hundreds of cranes but only “seven were even operating and those that were seemed to be going pretty slow.” He said the bottleneck that everyone now agrees on is “yard space” and that “terminals are simply overflowing with containers, which means they no longer have space to take in new containers either from ships or land. It’s a true traffic jam.”

    “The bottleneck right now is not the cranes. It’s yard space at the container terminals. And it’s empty chassis to come clear those containers out,” he said. (by “empty chassis” I think he may mean trucks to haul them out)

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Railroads already pointed out in the earnings that their ability to transport containers away from the ports is at capacity because their own rail yards inside the country cannot handle more containers because there aren’t enough trucks to take those containers away from the rail yards… it’s one bottle neck after another in a series. If you solve one, you hit the next. That’s exactly what I was saying in the interview.

      • Winston says:

        Tweet from indie trucker. Just one guy, but…:

        “At 61 and my truck being old and over regulated 5 months from retirement why, just why at my age should I haul TP, food and meds for people that vote these regulations into law. No thanks, enjoy your insanity, I’m out.”

        Of course, voters didn’t directly vote for the regulations.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The regulations weren’t designed to save trucking companies money. They were designed to avoid making the air even dirtier than it already is. Everyone breathes the air. So one old trucker with an old truck retires a few months early, fine, no problem. He probably made a good decision. Just don’t cite this as a reason for anything. That just makes you look silly.

        • Winston says:

          He’s just another brick in the wall. Great 1970s BBC science series Connections 1st episode – The Ripple Effect.

          US drayage drivers quitting as rail ramp congestion crimps pay
          May 19, 2021

          Drivers who dray ocean containers in the Midwest and South Central US are quitting in alarming numbers this year because rail terminal congestion has lowered their daily productivity and, in turn, their paychecks, according to trucking executives.

          Although trucking companies have raised rates for drayage service and increased driver pay, it has not been enough to compensate drivers for completing fewer jobs per day. Drayage providers in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Kansas City, and Memphis have seen as much as one-quarter of their drivers quit because of their decline in income.

          “I dread coming into the office some mornings because there is so much freight, and not enough equipment,” said Tina Cozzi, CEO of Land Transportation, a drayage provider in Chicago and an agent of The Evans Network of Companies. “We are struggling to keep the drivers we have happy.” On the least productive days, pay is down as much as 50 percent for Land Transportation drivers compared with two years ago, she said.

  28. Winston says:

    Charlotte County Utilities Department calling for voluntary water conservation – October 22, 2021

    Charlotte County gets the vast majority of its water from the Peace River Manasota Regional Supply Authority. They’ve got two treatment plants down and they can’t get the parts they need in order to pump the water south.

    Michael Coates manages the district water supply and said capacity is down and demand is rising.

    “We have a reservoir filled with 6.5 billion gallons of water. The supply is there, it’s just the treatment capacity to treat the water to drinking water,” Coates explained.

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