Rising prices and product shortages hit US
Administration officials are confronting an unfamiliar economic landscape of strong growth and rising wages, even as the highest inflation in 13 years and persistent problems moving goods from overseas factories to American doorsteps spark public unease. The latest monthly employment report, which showed the smallest job growth since January, also rattled Democrats’ nerves.
More than 18 months into the pandemic, thorny economic challenges that directly touch voters represent political peril for a president with sagging public approval ratings.
As supply chain troubles mount, Biden to tout longer hours for L.A. port
On Wednesday, President Biden moved to address costly traffic jams in the nation’s freight-moving system, convening a virtual industry roundtable and speaking at the White House. He announced that the Port of Los Angeles would “begin operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week” in a bid to clear bottlenecks.
The past week’s government reports showing inflation running at an annual 5.4 percent pace and a labor market in unusual turmoil offered a head-snapping portrait of a $21 trillion economy trying to regain its footing. Even as payroll growth slowed to its lowest monthly total since late last year, Americans empowered by greater leverage quit their jobs at a record pace, according to the Labor Department.
The news offered further evidence that the pandemic has triggered economic aftershocks that policymakers are struggling to understand, let alone quell.
“There’s not an off-the-shelf playbook for this kind of situation. I think they’re figuring it out as they go,” said Jason Furman, who was President Barack Obama’s top White House economist.
The president has few obvious levers to pull that would trigger quick improvement. Supply chain backlogs, for example, involve private-sector shipping lines, terminal operators, trucking companies, railroads and warehouse owners that operate according to market dictates not government commands.
Time may be the administration’s best remedy, if Federal Reserve forecasts are correct. Minutes from the Fed’s September policy meeting released Wednesday show that central bank officials did not expect supply disruptions “to be fully resolved until sometime next year or even later,” based on conversations with businesses and other contacts across the country. (Washington Post)