(OPINION) MS – Inflation and shortages are the two big stories for the U.S. economy this week. In recent days I have done multiple articles about inflation, and so today I want to focus on the widespread shortages that we are currently witnessing. At this moment, the U.S. economy is experiencing more shortages than it did at any point during 2020.
I know that statement sounds quite outlandish, but it is true. During the early stages of the pandemic, there were temporary shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other items, but now there are severe shortages throughout many sectors of the economy, and quite a few of those shortages will not be so temporary. On Thursday, Business Insider published a list of some of the most serious shortages that we are going through at the moment…
-Used cars and rental cars
-Plastics and palm oil
-Truckers and rideshare drivers
-Homes and vacation houses
-Household products like toilet paper and tampons
-Bacon and hot dogs
-Imported foods like cheese, coffee, and olive oil
That is quite a list!
The COVID pandemic suppressed output for many industries for an extended period of time, and meanwhile, our “leaders” have been pumping trillions and trillions of fresh dollars into the system. So now we have way too many dollars chasing way too few goods and services, and this is causing tremendous inflation and very painful shortages.
Just look at what is happening to the steel industry. Changes in supply and demand have pushed up the price of steel to “nearly triple the 20-year average”… After bottoming out around $460 last year, US benchmark hot-rolled coil steel prices are now sitting at around $1,500 a ton, a record high that is nearly triple the 20-year average.
Steel stocks are on fire. US Steel (X), which crashed to a record low last March amid bankruptcy fears, has skyrocketed 200% in just 12 months. Nucor (NUE) has spiked 76% this year alone. Much more importantly for the average American, there are now chicken shortages all over the country, and prices have soared into the stratosphere…
After a year promoting takeout wings and crispy chicken sandwiches, restaurants including KFC, Wingstop Inc., and Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. say they are paying steep prices for scarce poultry. Some are running out of or limiting sales of tenders, filets and wings, cutting into some of their most reliable sales.
Independent eateries and bars have gone weeks without wings, owners say. Chicken breast prices have more than doubled since the beginning of the year, and wing prices have hit records, according to market research firm Urner Barry.
“Weeks without wings?” Oh, the humanity! If we don’t get this crisis under control soon, the U.S. may not be able to set yet another all-time record for obesity in 2021. Propane tanks and chlorine tablets are also in short supply. As a result, many Americans may not be able to enjoy their grills and their pools as they normally do this summer…
A nationwide shortage of pool products is making chlorine tablets and propane tanks hard to come by and increasing prices right as the summer months approach. “In this heat, if you don’t take care of your pool properly algae will start growing,” said David Sarafyan, a pool supply store employee. “Your pool will pretty much become a swamp.” READ MORE