Biden's solution to the country's supply crisis
Around the world, ports are congested as a result of the rapid upturn in demand for commodities and goods.
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On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced expanded operations at the Port of Los Angeles to try to contain prices of goods that are already in short supply in the country.
Prices are rising in large part because container ships are stranded at the ports and unloaded goods are waiting for trucks, leading to massive shortages and delays that have caused a longer-than-expected period of inflation.
As a measure against these delays, the White House is finalizing an agreement for the Port of Los Angeles to become a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation. The hope is that nightly operations will help break the logjam and reduce delays in shipping goods just before the holiday season.
"With the Holidays approaching, you may be wondering if the gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time," Biden said at the White House. "Today we have good news: we're going to help speed up the delivery of goods across America."
Around the world, ports are congested as a result of the rapid rebound in demand for commodities and goods as the economy recovers from the pandemic. Transportation costs have skyrocketed, and companies that want to move goods are struggling because there are not enough ships or containers available. At the same time, the prices consumers have to pay are rising.
"Ports are just one piece of the puzzle," Biden said. The country needs more truck drivers, private retailers and better infrastructure, as well as a supply chain that can be less easily disrupted by pandemics and extreme weather.
"We need to take a broader view and invest in building greater resilience to withstand the kinds of crises that we've seen over and over again, year after year, pandemic risk, extreme weather, climate change, cyber attacks, climate disruption," the president said.
The expansion of port operations at the Port of Los Angeles is a subtle acknowledgement that inflation in the country has been rising even after the economy began to reopen following the Covid-19 pandemic that left thousands of businesses on the brink of bankruptcy.
Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the University of Michigan, noted on Twitter that "the economy is in a very fragile and unprecedented place." Prices are rising at more than 5%, trade in goods and services has slowed, and more Americans are quitting their jobs.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the United States. As of Tuesday, there were 64 ships docked at the two ports and 80 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.