The just-in-time world economy is in trouble. Container ports from Shanghai to Los Angeles to Felixstowe are jammed, with ships waiting to be unloaded and more waiting offshore to dock. There are not only worries about supplies for Christmas, but fears that the global shipping crisis may last well into next year.
We are not used to this. Only people in their 70s or older can remember post-war food rationing, which continued right through until 1954. The only comparable global energy squeeze happened in the 1970s, when the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quadrupled the price of oil. We have become accustomed to a world where we can get almost anything we want delivered to our door whenever we want it. Fresh flowers, cut just in time for Christmas? Of course, flown in from Kenya. What could be more normal?
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