BBG: Norfolk Southern nominates new directors to fend off activist
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A supply chain crunch that was meant to be temporary now looks like it will last well into next year as the surging delta variant upends factory production in Asia and disrupts shipping, posing more shocks to the world economy.
Manufacturers reeling from shortages of key components and higher raw material and energy costs are being forced into bidding wars to get space on vessels, pushing freight rates to records and prompting some exporters to raise prices or simply cancel shipments altogether.
“We can’t get enough components, we can’t get containers, costs have been driven up tremendously,” said Christopher Tse, chief executive officer of Hong Kong-based Musical Electronics Ltd., which makes consumer products from Bluetooth speakers to Rubik’s Cubes.
Tse said the cost of magnets used in the puzzle toy have risen by about 50% since March, increasing the production cost by about 7%. “I don’t know if we can make money from Rubik’s Cubes because prices keep changing.”
China’s determination to stamp out Covid has meant even a small number of cases can cause major disruptions to trade. This month the government temporarily closed part of the world’s third-busiest container port at Ningbo for two weeks after a single dockworker was found to have the delta variant. Earlier this year, wharves in Shenzhen were idled after the discovery of a handful of coronavirus cases.
“Port congestion and a shortage of container shipping capacity may last into the fourth quarter or even mid-2022,” said Hsieh Huey-chuan, president of Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp., the world’s seventh-biggest container liner, at an investor briefing on Aug. 20. “If the pandemic cannot be effectively contained, port congestion may become a new normal.”
The cost of sending a container from Asia to Europe is about 10 times higher than in May 2020, while the cost from Shanghai to Los Angeles has grown more than sixfold, according to the Drewry World Container Index. The global supply chain has become so fragile that a single, small accident “could easily have its effects compounded,” HSBC Holdings Plc. said in a note.
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