Hello and thank you for being a DL contributor. We are changing the login scheme for contributors for simpler login and to better support using multiple devices. Please click here to update your account with a username and password.

Hello. Some features on this site require registration. Please click here to register for free.

Hello and thank you for registering. Please complete the process by verifying your email address. If you can't find the email you can resend it here.

Hello. Some features on this site require a subscription. Please click here to get full access and no ads for $1.99 or less per month.

From zippers to glass, shortages of basic goods hobble U.S. economy

FLETCHER, N.C. (Reuters) - For Lauren Rash, it’s the little things that have snarled production at her tent factory here, like the many shades of black Velcro.

Her company, Diamond Brand, just launched a new line of high-end wall tents called the Liminal, thick with vents and fasteners demanded by discerning campers. But that means using lots of Velcro. And that’s a problem, because black Velcro comes in many shades, depending on the type of raw plastic resin used to make it.

“If I have older stock and put it with new,” the colors won’t match, said Rash. “Black is not black is not black.”

Before supply chain breakdowns and shortages swept the world in the wake the COVID pandemic, buying the bits and pieces for an assembly line was often as easy as clicking a button and waiting a few days or, at most, a few weeks for delivery.

Not anymore.

Shortages of metals, plastics, wood and even liquor bottles are now the norm.

The upshot is a world where buyers must wait for delivery of items that were once plentiful, if they can get them at all. Rash has piles of tents she can’t ship because she can’t get the right aluminum tubing for their frames, for instance, while others lack the right zippers.

Along with the shortages come hefty price increases, which has fueled fears of a wave of sustained inflation.

There’s growing tension among Federal Reserve policymakers over how to gauge the long-term impact on prices. Some Fed policymakers are more convinced than others that price pressures will recede after some of the supply chain disruptions are resolved. How this debate evolves could influence how quickly the Fed moves to reduce the pace of asset purchases launched at the start of the pandemic, and how soon it lifts the policy interest rate from its current level near zero.

Rash and other local producers were part of a wide ranging forum recently with Richmond Fed president Tom Barkin that focused on the challenges to the U.S. recovery posed by supply chain issues that are not getting resolved as fast as policymakers had hoped.

Shortages are hitting everything from bulldozers to bourbon. Heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc warned in July that its profits would suffer in the current quarter in part because of rising prices on hard-to-get components. The company said, among other things, it is looking for ways to get supplies from non-traditional sources to deal with shortages of plastic resin and semiconductors.

Lawson Whiting, chief executive of spirits producer Brown-Forman Corp , told investors earlier this month that shortages of “key packaging materials, most notably glass” continue to create problems for the maker of brands such as Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.

New challenges continue to arise, including hurricane disruptions to U.S. oil refineries which is again threatening supplies of plastics and other basic materials.

Some industries are rushing to build new factories, including semiconductor producers under pressure to feed a growing appetite for chips needed in cars and electronics. But not all producers are eager to build new plants. The bike industry, for instance, is heavily concentrated in Asia and producers there worry that the current surge in demand is only temporary.

“The Asian factories have seen this time and time again,” said Brent Graves, CEO of Cane Creek Cycling Components, another small manufacturer in Fletcher, N.C., which relies heavily on Asian suppliers for bike parts. “They say, ‘Well, we will run some extra overtime.’ But in terms of raw investment in facilities, on the whole they are reluctant to do it."

Compounding the current problem are clogged supply lines. With so many manufacturers rushing to build supplies at the same time, the containers, ships, and trucks needed to move the goods often aren’t available, and have soared in cost when they are. That has disrupted some of the mechanisms that normally help keep supplies, and prices, in check.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 15September 16, 2021 8:15 PM

David Reilly, president of United Solutions, a plastics maker in Leominster, Mass., said soaring resin prices - he estimates they’re up 100% for some types in the past year - is his biggest challenge.

Normally he would have his buyers scouring overseas markets, including China, for cheaper resins.

“But we can’t do that,” he said, because shipping prices have risen so much that they wipe out any price advantage. “Right now, producers in North America don’t have the stiff competition that they would if container prices came back down.”

Back at the tent factory, Rash said her approach to the problem has undone years of work at making her factory more “lean.” It’s not unusual for a tent to require 48 separate parts, she said, and when you can’t depend on getting all those items, you tend to stock up on what you can - which is visible in corners of the factory.

Leading the way through a maze of shelving, she plucks up a galvanized steel tube. “I got a hundred of this which is fine. I will go through it," she said. "But the two (sizes of tube) I am on backorder, I cannot get.”

by Anonymousreply 1September 14, 2021 10:15 PM

It's crazy what's going on right now. I was at Whole Foods yesterday and they were noticably out of many products. I particualrly noticed most of the Icelandic yogurt was gone, as well as baking ingredients and breakfast bars.

by Anonymousreply 2September 14, 2021 10:18 PM

Highly global supply chains were a mistake, economies of scale be damned. Each country should be self sufficient to some degree. A few factory in China should not be able to bring down the global economy.

by Anonymousreply 3September 14, 2021 10:41 PM

Well people are not going to stop drinking, especially in the Fall/winter holiday seasons. I'm betting on that.

by Anonymousreply 4September 14, 2021 11:20 PM

Supply chain fragility + increased shipping costs + mandating truckers to have a vaccine in order to work

by Anonymousreply 5September 15, 2021 3:11 AM

Can they please ease up on the tariffs? I’ve noticed their effect.

by Anonymousreply 6September 15, 2021 3:13 AM

Inexpensive men’s masturbation sleeves are almost impossible to find at reasonable prices online right now. It’s such a common toy but it’s so hard to find right now.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 7September 16, 2021 5:39 AM
Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 8September 16, 2021 5:43 AM
Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 9September 16, 2021 5:46 AM

So do we blame the Chinese?

Or do we blame our own stupidity as well as blaming the Chinese?

by Anonymousreply 10September 16, 2021 5:58 AM

The fraus will go fucking nuts when there are toy shortages and their crotch fruit will have to settle for something else.

by Anonymousreply 11September 16, 2021 7:45 PM

R10 it's our fault. The elites were all too glad to move manufacturing to China and consumers chose to buy those cheaper products.

by Anonymousreply 12September 16, 2021 7:49 PM

I wouldn't care if the velcro didn't match. It's a tent.

by Anonymousreply 13September 16, 2021 7:54 PM

Start manufacturing your own stuff right now, America. You can see shithole China would rather slit its throat than kowtowing to the US demands on human rights, IP rights, whatever rights.

Now shithole China is playing a Russian roulette and it is not afraid to shoot itself in the face just to destroy the world economy as they are clamping down on everything and everyone.

by Anonymousreply 14September 16, 2021 7:59 PM

Lauren Rash appears to be a Republican, so she's getting what she voted for. Shouldn't she be celebrating? Pulling herself up by her bootstraps. I wonder if she is opposed to Federal Aid and unemployment during the pandemic for persons other than herself.

This is yet another consequence of the way the pandemic and vaccine were handled initially in America. 1 in 500 Americans are dead.

Caterpillar gives money to Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell, it's hard to have sympathy for them either. Brown-Forman has started giving to Dems, but mainly to Rs over the long haul.

I find myself looking these things up more and more and trying to adjust how I spend.

by Anonymousreply 15September 16, 2021 8:15 PM
Need more help? Click Here.

Yes indeed, we too use "cookies." Take a look at our privacy/terms or if you just want to see the damn site without all this bureaucratic nonsense, click ACCEPT. Otherwise, you'll just have to find some other site for your pointless bitchery needs.


Become a contributor - post when you want with no ads!