Images of the global supply-chain shortage: What's happening?

Empty shelves in IKEA
A scary lack of Halloween costumes
No toys for Texas
Stock shortage in the UK
Overflowing ports
What's going on?
Non-stop work after months of inactivity
Nine months for a car
Excessive demand from the United States
Up to a week waiting to unload
Work around the clock
A warning for Santa Claus
Rising costs fuel problems
Dependency on China
Problems in Britain
No drinks, no fiesta
Financial straits
Scarcity is on the menu
The end of globalization?
Macron's proposal
More truckers, more skilled workers
When will it end?
The difficult path to normalcy
Empty shelves in IKEA

IKEA is one of the world's giants of furniture and interior design. This is what the shelves of one of their New York City stores looked like in October, and it's hardly the only image of the global supply chain shortage.

A scary lack of Halloween costumes

This is what a Halloween store in the Miami area had on display.

No toys for Texas

With Christmas around the corner, some toys are also scarce, as can be seen in this Houston toy store.

Stock shortage in the UK

Little else can be said about the stock shortage of many businesses across the UK, where the global supply chain shortage aggravates the effects of Brexit.

Overflowing ports

There's a worldwide bottleneck, breaking down the supply chain flow and letting ports overflow with container ships. They can't unload their cargo and block the arrival of new containers into these ports. This is the view of the port of Oakland, California, around mid-October.

What's going on?

Some experts talk about a global collapse provoked by a "perfect storm." It started out when the pandemic ground the world to a halt. Since then, restarting trade around the globe has proven very difficult.

Non-stop work after months of inactivity

The pandemic brought the world to a standstill. There were lockdowns, factories closed, production winded down and demand plummeted. With the pandemic becoming a thing of the past, a "rebound effect" has met suppliers around the globe: more consumption, more goods, more work...

Nine months for a car

Some industries can't produce enough goods to meet the demand. The microchip shortage is a textbook example of this situation: There aren't enough chips, which in turn affects the automobile industry. Customers in some European countries have to wait up to nine months to get the car they bought.

Excessive demand from the United States

There's an excessive demand across the developed world. People are buying more with all the money they saved from the lockdown and businesses want to have their stock ready for Black Friday and Christmas. Paradoxically, getting supplies in advance has caused problems that can now be seen in stores.

Up to a week waiting to unload

The demand for goods in the US has been massive. Products have arrived in the usual containers but there are logistic issues in moving them outside the ports. There's also a lack of truckers and efficient distribution networks.

Work around the clock

President Joe Biden weighed in and demanded week-long 24-hour port operations. If the distribution bottleneck isn't overcome there will be dire problems.

A warning for Santa Claus

For one, Black Friday and Christmas are in danger of suffering from shortages. Several media have noted that Santa Claus may bring fewer presents this year to the homes of children in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

Rising costs fuel problems

The rise of prices on energy and raw materials is another factor that affects the return to normalcy for global trade and supply. Some industries in Europe have reached the point of stopping production altogether as they wait for costs to go down. Once more, this contributes to unmet demands in different markets.

Image: Matthew Henry / Unsplash

Dependency on China

The excessive dependency of the world economy on China is once again a point of discussion. China is the factory of the world, but right now it can't produce enough. Or maybe it can and it's aiming to only supply the local market?

Problems in Britain

Brexit, with its borders and added bureaucratic checks for European transport and workers, has worsened this crisis for the UK. There are not enough truckers from abroad with the paperwork to work on British soil. The result: a scarcity of several goods in the stores.

No drinks, no fiesta

The inverse situation is also a problem: alcoholic beverages made in the UK cannot be exported. There's concern in some bars and nightclubs in Spain as there are already shortages in supply for some drinks.

Financial straits

Anecdotes aside, investors and analysts believe that these problems could bring the global economy into a breaking point amid its post-Covid recovery. The growth of the economy is in jeopardy and the threat of inflation rears its ugly head.

Scarcity is on the menu

The shortage problems shouldn't be seen in a developed economy. The picture shows fast food restaurant chain Wendy's apologizing to their customers due to the unavailability of some menu items.

The end of globalization?

There are experts who believe that the current global model has become obsolete and that delocalization (the transfer of production to the workforce of other countries) has to be done differently.

Macron's proposal

French president Emmanuel Macron has proposed an ambitious project to reindustrialize France and turn the country into a production and innovation hub. He announced that this plan will cost 30 billion euros. The goal? To produce goods from home again.

More truckers, more skilled workers

This crisis has also revealed severe understaffing in some essential jobs. There are not enough truckers to get imported goods out of the ports. Some people advocate for higher wages in certain areas, pointing to the need to attract workers in professions that might be hard and seem old-fashioned but nonetheless are still indispensable.

Image: Walter "CheToba" De Boever / Unsplash

When will it end?

Nobody knows how long this supply chain crisis might last or what consequences it could bring on the longer term. What many agree is that this year will end in chaos and shortages.

The difficult path to normalcy

The slow end of the pandemic is turning out more complex than it appeared to be. What is true is that the global economy wasn't prepared for this and ground-breaking reforms may be necessary.

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