October 28, 2021

Biden Announces Expansion of Hours at Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Long Beach began implementing a pilot program to extend its hours overnight in late September. Many other major foreign ports already offer round-the-clock service.

The shortages have helped stoke inflation that is chilling consumer confidence and weighing on Mr. Biden’s approval ratings. On Wednesday, the Labor Department announced that the Consumer Price Index, a key reading of monthly inflation, jumped 5.4 percent in September when compared with the prior year, raising the stakes for the White House and the Federal Reserve.

Jennifer McKeown, the head of the Global Economics Service at Capital Economics, said that worsening supplier delivery times and conditions at ports suggested that product shortages would persist into mid- to late next year.

“Unfortunately, it does look like things are likely to get worse before they get better,” she said.

Ms. McKeown said governments around the world could help smooth some shortages and dampen some price increases, for example by encouraging workers to move into industries with labor shortages, like trucking.

“But to some extent, they need to let markets do their work,” she said.

Phil Levy, the chief economist at the logistics firm Flexport and a former official in the George W. Bush administration, said a Transportation Department official gathering information on what the administration could do to address the supply chain shortages had contacted his company. Flexport offered the administration suggestions on changing certain regulations and procedures to ease the blockages, but warned that the problem was a series of choke points “stacked one on top of the other.”

“Are there things that can be done at the margin? Yes, and the administration has at least been asking about this,” Mr. Levy said. However, he cautioned, “from the whole big picture, the supply capacity is really hard to change in a noteworthy way.”

Administration officials acknowledged on Tuesday in a call with reporters that the problems were global, and that private companies would have to lead the way. They also acknowledged that the $1.9 trillion economic aid package Mr. Biden signed into law in March had contributed to supply chain issues by boosting demand for goods, but said the law was the reason the U.S. recovery has outpaced those of other nations this year.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/13/us/politics/biden-port-los-angeles-supply-chain.html

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