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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Jan. 20, 2022

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Jan. 20, 2022

Crazy Cargo Theft from Trains in LA; Wall Street Journal Economists Reduce 2022 Growth Estimate; Procter & Gamble Sees Rising Costs, Price Hikes; Oil Prices Up and Up Some More




That is the growth in cargo theft from containers coming into the port of Los Angeles via rail carrier Union Pacific now versus 2021, according to the company this week, in a story that is making headlines across the globe. Versus 2020, the thefts in October were up 356%. Captured on video by at least two LA television stations running with the story since November, the thieves target slowing or stalled trains heading into the Union Pacific depot in downtown, with most of the action in the Lincoln Part area just north of the city. That has led to long runs of track to be covered with debris from ripped open shipping cartons being transported by Amazon, REI and other companies, and thieves discarding merchandise they aren’t interested in. The rail carrier now says said its agents have made hundreds of arrests, but said less than half of the suspects are booked, and even those that are booked are released in less than 24 hours. Crews on Monday were, as they have before, working to clean masses of discarded packaging left behind by the criminals.

$2.8 Billion

That is how much more consumer products giant Procter & Gamble said it expects to pay for commodities procurement and in freight costs in 2022 versus 2021. That according to the company’s earnings release this week. The figure is about $500 million more than it forecast last quarter, as P&G see inflation accelerating. But the company has and will respond with significant price increases. P&G has already raised prices on 10 product categories across its portfolio. More price hikes are coming. Executives told analysts on the conference call that they already told retailers about increases planned for fabric care products, like Tide detergent and Downy dryer sheets, slated to take effect Feb. 28. In mid-April, P&G will raise prices on some of its personal health care products. The US producer price index was up 9.7% on a 12-month basis to end 2021, the highest calendar-year increase ever in data going back to 2010, and the consumer price index climbed 7% in the same time, the highest level since 1982.




That is the new consensus forecast for US real GDP growth for 2022 from the Wall Street Journal’s panel of economists, as released last weekend. That’s down from the panel’s average estimate of 4.2% in October in the last quarterly poll. The combination of higher inflation, supply-chain constraints and the fast-spreading Omicron variant caused the economists to reduce their forecast for GDP growth. That growth rate would be down from the expected 5%+ economic growth for 2021, awaiting final Q4 numbers. If those 2021 forecasts are correct – and it seems certain they are given the growth through Q3 - it would mark the first year of more than 3% growth since 2005, before which it was commonplace. However, the good growth in 2021 was in part the result of weak numbers for 2020.




That is about the price for a barrel of West Texas Crude oil this week, the highest levels since 2014. Some oil industry analysts say the price of oil is once again headed over $100 per barrel, with a potential to drive inflation still higher and damage the economy. National average gasoline prices stand at $3.31 per gallon, according to AAA, up from $2.38 a year ago, impacting consumer spending on other goods. As usual, it’s supply and demand. The rapid spread of the Omicron COVID virus hasn’t reduced oil demand as much as traders thought since was identified in late November. And in a report this week, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries forecast that the world would consume 100.8 million barrels of oil per day this year, up 4.2 million barrels a day from 2021, or about a 4% increase in demand.

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