Jen Psaki going from “we’re not the postal service” to taking credit for Christmas presents arriving on time could only happen with a compliant, friendly media.
The White House made a huge deal this weak, claiming that the Christmas goods crisis had been avoided. That evidence is anecdotal and spotty at best. Basically, it’s a load of BS.
According to real loggy experts at Flexport CEO Ryan Peterson, the outlook for 2022 may be more of the same: congestion, delays, capacity and equipment shortages, and high costs.
Peterson points out the likelihood of this scenario based on how long it could take to resolve supply-side shortages. Needle-movers like fulfilling new ship orders, building out ports, or developing self-driving trucks take years.
He balances his point with a caveat: For the situation to remain stable, even in its congested state, there may need to be a pullback in demand.
“In a complex system, a longer and longer delay . . . even as the input stays the same, it’s a very worrisome sign . . . Although imports are up quite a bit over 2019 levels, they’re not actually up over the last six months, and, yet, we see that the delays keep getting longer.”
Scenario: A Deepening Crisis
Without a pullback in goods demand, the lengthening delays could result in a worsening reality.
Another Flexport index, the Ocean Timeliness Indicator, shows extended transit times. As of the week of December 12, the Transpacific Eastbound trade lane has increased to a record 106 days, while the Far East Westbound lane has increased to a record 112 days.
Other disruptions could complicate the picture, too:
- Additional Covid-related closures, as new variants emerge, could limit manufacturing productivity and port activity.
- Labor relations could impact container movement at ports, as collective bargaining occurs ahead of a Q3 contract renewal on the West Coast.
- Unforeseen events, like the crash of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal, could create cascading logistics impacts around the world.
As supply chains become more complex, the effects of disruptions may become harder to unravel.
If there is a reprieve in the supply chain, that may not be that great either.
“The reprieve for the system may not feel that great for the economy. In general, a boom feels really good—maybe not when prices start coming up with inflation, but . . . you’re ordering goods. This feels nice. Pulling back doesn’t feel as nice.”
This type of change could be triggered by an improving health situation worldwide, a shift towards consumer preference for services over goods, or companies simply making do with lean inventories.