Live Updates

The latest on the global supply chain crisis

'More ships than parking spots': What a stuck supply chain looks like
03:53

What we covered here

  • The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on global supply chains. The vast network of ports, container vessels and trucking companies that move goods around the world are now badly congested due to a rapid rebound in demand for goods.
  • This disruption to global supply chains is getting worse ahead of the holidays, spurring shortages of some products, delays and higher prices for consumers. 
  • President Biden announced today that the Port of Los Angeles, the US’ largest port, would begin “operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week” to address the global supply chain bottlenecks.

Our live coverage has ended for the day.

15 Posts

Biden announced new measures today to help ease the supply chain crisis. Here are key things to know.

Shipping containers and container ships are seen at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles on September 20.

The US government is stepping up its efforts to relieve the supply chain nightmare that has led to shortages of some goods, higher prices for consumers and now threatens to slow the economic recovery.

Around the world, ports are congested as a result of the rapid rebound in demand for commodities and goods as much of the global economy has recovered from the pandemic. Shipping costs have soared, and companies wanting to move goods around are struggling because there just aren’t enough ships or containers available. All the while prices are going up for consumers.

President Biden outlined the steps his administration will be taking alongside some of the country’s biggest ports and retailers to help alleviate the supply chain bottlenecks.

Here are some key things to know about Biden’s announcements today:

  • Longer port hours: Biden announced the Port of Los Angeles will move to 24/7 service, bringing it into line with operations at the Port of Long Beach, which is already working on a 24/7 schedule. Those two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the US. “Today’s announcement has the potential to be a game changer,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. He said the additional port hours will increase the time spent unloading container ships by 60 hours a week, and will represent a doubling of hours the ports of Los Angeles and the neighboring Port of Long Beach were operating earlier this year.
  • The private sector is also taking action: Biden met with senior officials and stakeholders to discuss collective efforts to address global transportation bottlenecks and then deliver remarks on Wednesday. Port operators, truckers’ associations, labor unions and executives from Walmart, FedEx, UPS, and Target attended the talks. He said that Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, had committed to a 50% increase in moving goods during off-peak hours. The President said FedEx and UPS will also increase their overnight operations. “All of these goods won’t move by themselves,” Biden said. “For the positive impact to be felt all across the country and by all of you at home, we need major retailers who ordered the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from the ships to factories and stores to step up as well.”
  • Efforts to boost the number of truck drivers: Officials also said the federal government is working with state Departments of Motor Vehicles to help increase the issuance of commercial drivers licenses in an effort to boost the number of truck drivers in the country. They added that the White House hopes to see the trucking and rail freight industries expand hours as well. A shortage of truck drivers has added to the supply chain constraints, making the delivery of goods to consumers even more costly and slow.

CNN’s Chris Isidore, Jason Hoffman and Matt Egan contributed to this post.

Biden: "If the private sector doesn't step up, we're going to call them out and ask them to act"

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Wednesday.

President Biden applauded Walmart, FedEx, and UPS for committing to move more products during off peak hours, and he urged others in the private sector to “step up as well” to help ease the supply chain issues impacting the US.

“Today Walmart, our nation’s largest retailer is committing to go all in on moving its products 24/7 from the ports to their stores nationwide. Specifically, Walmart is committing as much as 50% increase in the use of off peak hours over the next several weeks,” Biden said.

“FedEx and UPS are the shippers for some of our nation’s largest stores but they also ship for tens of thousands of small businesses all across America. Their commitment to go all in on 24/7 operations means that businesses of all sizes will get their goods on shelves faster and more reliably,” Biden said of their commitments.

Biden also highlighted commitments from Target, Home Depot and Samsung “to ramp up their activities to utilize off peak hours at the ports.”

Biden hinted to using federal action if the private sector “doesn’t step up.”

“I want to be clear, this is across the board commitment to go into 24/7 — this is a big first step in speeding up the movement of materials and goods through our supply chain, but now we need the rest of the private sector chain to step up as well,” Biden warned. “This is not called a supply chain for nothing.”

“Strengthening our supply chain will continue to be my team’s focus,” he added. “If federal support is needed, I will direct all appropriate action. Now if the private sector doesn’t step up, we’re going to call them out and ask them to act, because our goal is not only to get through this immediate bottleneck, but to address the long-standing weaknesses in our transportation supply chain that this pandemic has exposed.”

CNN’s DJ Judd contributed reporting to this post.

Biden specifically thanked labor unions, but most supply chain workers are nonunion

A FedEx driver delivers packages in New York in May.

President Biden, who has been called the most union-friendly president in history, took time during his remarks at the White House Wednesday to thank various unions for their members’ work in helping fix the nation’s broken supply chain.

Although the workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach who load and unload ships are members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and many railroad workers are also union members, the overwhelming majority of the workers in supply chains are not members of any unions.

Most of the truckers that call on the port or that move trailers or containers full of freight long distances drive for nonunion trucking companies. And just about all the retailers that are getting the goods, including the three mentioned by Biden — Walmart, Target and Home Depot — are nonunion as well. Although United Parcel Service drivers and distribution center workers are members of the Teamsters union, UPS rival FedEx, which was also mentioned by Biden, is nonunion.

Still, Labor Department statistics show than only 18% of transportation and warehousing workers nationwide were represented by unions in 2020. But a large percentage of the unionized workers in that sector work in the nation’s passenger airlines, not moving freight. And although that’s less than a fifth of those workers, it’s significantly higher than the 7% of workers across all American industries who are represented by unions. In retail the figure is much lower — only 5%.

Biden took time to call out several unions by name, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, although he used the former, gender-specific name rather than its current name.

Biden: Pass infrastructure bill to avoid more supply chain issues

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House on Wednesday.

President Biden used his remarks today on the supply chain crisis to push for his bipartisan infrastructure legislation, currently stalled in Congress.

“In order to be globally competitive, we need to improve our capacity to make things here in America, while also moving finished products across the country and around the world. We need to think big and bold. That’s why I’m pushing for a once in a generation investment in our infrastructure and our people with my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better Act,” he said.

“Let me be clear, we’re proposing to make the biggest investment in ports in our history. The bill would also make investments in our supply chains and manufacturing and strengthening our ability to make more goods from the beginning to end right here in America,” the President continued.

Biden said he wants to make sure the US “never again” is in a position to not “be unable to make critical products we need because we don’t have access to materials to make that product.”

Biden says longer hours at ports could be a "game changer" for supply chain woes

Containers are stacked at the Port of Los Angeles on October 1.

President Biden announced agreements for longer hours at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest port, and longer hours at many of the nation’s major retailers.

The President said that “after weeks of negotiations,” the Port of Los Angeles announced today that it will begin operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This comes after the Port of Long Beach made a similar 24/7 operating commitment.

“This is the first key step toward moving our entire freight, transportation and logistical supply chain nationwide to a 24/7 system,” Biden said.

Biden noted that additional port hours will increase the time spent unloading container ships by 60 hours a week, and represent a doubling of hours the ports of Los Angeles and the neighboring Port of Long Beach were operating earlier this year.

The two Southern California ports handle 40% of the cargo containers bringing imported goods into the country, but for much of this year there has been gridlock of dozens of ships anchored outside the ports, waiting an average of 10 days to get in to unload goods.

Biden noted that opening ports for longer hours is only part of the effort, the country needs retailers to move the goods.

“Because all of these goods won’t move by themselves. For the positive impact to be felt all across the country and by all of you at home, we need major retailers who ordered the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from the ships to factories and stores to step up as well,” Biden said.

He said that that among the retailers promising to accept more goods at night include Walmart, Target and Home Depot. He said that Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, had committed to a 50% increase in moving goods during off-peak hours. The President said FedEx and UPS will also increase their overnight operations.

NOW: Biden speaks about his administration's efforts to alleviate global transportation bottlenecks

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.

President Biden is delivering remarks about his administration’s plans to address global transportation bottlenecks.

The President met earlier today with senior officials and stakeholders to discuss how to collectively tackle the issues. Port operators, truckers’ associations, labor unions and executives from Walmart, FedEx, UPS and Target attended the talks.

The White House will work with companies and ports on a “90-day sprint” to alleviate bottlenecks, according to a senior administration official. Some will start working 24/7 to address the backlogs.

The Port of Los Angeles will move to 24/7 service, bringing it into line with operations at the Port of Long Beach, which is already working on a 24/7 schedule, the official said. Those two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the US.

Ahead of his remarks, Biden said in a tweet that his administration is “working around the clock to move goods faster.”

White House: We "can't make a prediction" on when inflation and supply chain bottlenecks will be resolved

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks to the media on Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed supply chain issues and rising inflation Wednesday, saying that the administration cannot “guarantee” when the issues will be resolved claiming that the administration is using “every tool” at their disposal to ease the impact on consumers. 

“Look, I can’t make a prediction for you that we’re going to solve every issue tomorrow and next week. We’re not. We’re coming out of an economic crisis caused by a pandemic but what we are doing is working to – using every tool at our disposal to ease the impact on the American people, ease the impact on families as we look to the holidays but certainly beyond that,” Psaki said.

The press secretary pointed to the Biden administration’s announcement earlier Wednesday and its efforts to address bottlenecks at two ports in California.

Psaki would also not guarantee that Americans will receive holiday packages on time.

“We are not the Postal Service or UPS or FedEx. We cannot guarantee. What we can do is use every lever at the federal government’s disposal to reduce delays, to ensure that we are addressing bottlenecks in the system including ports and the need for them to be open longer hours so that goods can arrive and we can continue to press not only workers and unions but also companies to take as many steps as the can to reduce these delays,” she told reporters.

When asked by CNN’s Phil Mattingly what the federal government can do to aid the supply chain bottleneck, Psaki acknowledged there “are some realities about an economy turning back on and moving from a period where there was low demand.”

“Where there was not the production of goods, even of a range of supplies that the American people are looking for- that as it’s turning back on and as demand has increase as it did. That there would be ups and downs and that’s what we’re experiencing right now,” Psaki added.

Asked if Americans should expect inflation to get worse before it gets better, Psaki said she “wouldn’t make a prediction” as there are various issues impacting the supply chain.

Pandemic caused "jumbled mess" in supply chains, Moody's Analytics chief economist says

Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi speaks during a forum in December 2017 in Washington, DC. 

The Biden administration’s efforts to alleviate the supply chain crisis are a “step in the right direction,” according to Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi.

President Biden is meeting today with port operators, truckers’ associations, labor unions and executives from Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Target and Samsung as part of his administration’s “90-day sprint” to address bottlenecks.

“There are a lot of parties involved all over the planet. It’s a logistical nightmare by definition,” Zandi said in an interview on CNN.
“It’s a complicated problem. [The ] pandemic is still on, and as long as the pandemic is still plaguing the rest of the globe, this isn’t going to be easy; it’s going to take some time,” he said.

The spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant caused major supply chain issues, Zandi said.

“It really creamed the rest of the world, particularly Asia and more specifically, southeast Asia, and that’s where a lot of these supply chains begin,” he said.

He gave an example of Malaysian semiconductor plants shutting down due to workers being sick, which in turn resulted in shortages of vehicle manufacturing compounded by trucker shortages.

Zandi also said as more people have been stuck at home, they are buying “all kinds of stuff.”

“You got all this stuff coming through the pipe, and the pipe is being disrupted by the pandemic, and that results in this jumbled mess. And then it’s an intricate set of relationships, you know, from the factory to the truck to the port to the container ship to the port to the truck to the warehouse,” he said.

Zandi also predicted the cost of goods will stabilize, but it may take until next year.

“Each new wave of the virus will be less disruptive than the previous one. We’ll work through these things and we’ll start to see some price moderation; same in the job market,” he said.

Watch:

Biden administration discusses moving to 24/7 operations at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports

Cargo ships filled with containers wait offshore for entry to the Port of Los Angeles on October 6, 2021 in Los Angeles, California as supply chain disruptions continue to affect the US economy.

Leaders of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports met with Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese to discuss congestion at the Southern California ports and moving to 24/7 operations, according to a readout from the White House.

“Labor leaders made clear their support for this effort, and business leaders announced new commitments to move their cargo during the newly available night time and weekend hours. Participants discussed how the movement of cargo during less congested times will allow trucks to move more quickly on highways during less crowded night time hours, and truckers at the ports can drop off and pick up loads more quickly,” the readout said.

During the meeting, Harris “raised the historic and global nature of the current challenges facing the transportation and logistics supply chain, including disruptions due to the delta variant shutting down port operations in key trading partners such as in Southeast Asia, causing backups and delays throughout the world’s ports,” the statement said.

Business leaders propose deploying National Guard to address supply chain crisis

Business leaders called for the Biden administration on Wednesday to consider new approaches to ease severe pressure on supply chains, including deploying the National Guard to address bottlenecks, Consumer Brands Association CEO Geoff Freeman told CNN.

Freeman, whose trade group represents Coca-Cola, Kellogg and Campbell Soup, participated in a virtual roundtable led by Vice President Kamala Harris and said discussions with the administration remain in their early stages. 

“We have to leave no stone unturned,” said Freeman, who described supply chains as being in a state of “crisis.”

Business leaders made several proposals aimed at alleviating pressure, including a “targeted use of the National Guard,” Freeman said. He added that the National Guard could be used to address bottlenecks wherever they form, including removing cargo from ships or getting cargo out of shipyards.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the National Guard proposal. 

Supply chain stress is delaying shipment of goods, leaving shelves empty and jacking up prices. Consumer prices rose in August by 5.4% from a year ago, matching the fastest pace since 2008. 

Freeman said other ideas mentioned during the meeting include temporary visa and using previously-authorized funding to ease a shortage of workers – including truck drivers. 

The White House announced Wednesday it will work with companies and ports on a “90-day sprint” to alleviate bottlenecks. Significantly, the Port of Los Angeles will move to 24/7 service, bringing it into alignment with the operations of the Port of Long Beach. These two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the United States – and both have been hit by severe congestion.

“We are pleased today to see the urgency from the administration to focus on the challenges within the supply chain,” Freeman told CNN. “All credit goes to them for recognizing the need for having this constant public and private cooperation.”

Freeman said moving to 24/7 at ports will help and is appreciated, but added that this is the “low-hanging fruit” and was a “relatively obvious next step” given that many ports overseas are already doing this.

“Getting the goods off the ship is one part of the process. We then need a truck to put them on. We need the drivers,” Freeman said. 

Business leaders also proposed hosting a weekly war room with government officials to address supply chain problems before they turn into full-blown crises.

“Their response was, ‘Once a week isn’t enough. We want to do it three times a week,’” said Freeman. “I give them a great deal of credit for having that urgency.”

An extra supply chain meeting will be held today with top Biden officials

Senior administration officials are meeting virtually with private sector stakeholders, coalitions and labor groups before President Biden’s meeting later today.

“Ahead of the President’s meeting on global transportation supply chain bottlenecks, senior administration officials and stakeholders will participate in a virtual roundtable to discuss collective efforts to address global transportation supply chain bottlenecks,” the White House said.

Officials include Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, and the same group Biden will meet later, which includes leaders from Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Samsung, and other stakeholders.

A White House official confirmed to CNN that this is a separate meeting from one Biden will attend. Biden’s meeting at 1:45 p.m. ET will be followed by remarks at 2:20 p.m. ET.

Here are the attendees, per the White House:

  • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
  • National Economic Council Director Brian Deese
  • Port Envoy John Porcari
  • Gene Seroka, Executive Director of Port of Los Angeles
  • Mario Cordero, Executive Director of Port of Long Beach
  • Willie Adams, International President of ILWU 
  • James Hoffa Jr., General President of Teamsters  
  • Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department of AFL-CIO
  • John Furner, President and CEO of Walmart US
  • Dr. Udo Lange, President and CEO of FedEx Logistics
  • Nando Cesarone, President, US Operations of UPS
  • Brian Cornell, Board Chairman and CEO of Target
  • Ted Decker, President and COO of Home Depot
  • KS Choi, President and CEO of Samsung Electronics North America
  • Matt Shay, President and CEO of National Retail Federation
  • Peter Friedmann, Executive Director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition
  • Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations
  • Ian Jefferies, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads
  • Suzanne Clark, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce
  • Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association
  • Jim McKenna, President and CEO of the Pacific Maritime Association

Transportation secretary stresses need for infrastructure legislation while addressing supply chain issues

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stressed that while the Biden administration works with the private sector to ease supply chain bottlenecks across the country and the globe, the supply chains themselves are often outdated and need to be modernized in order to meet the new demands it faces since the pandemic.

Buttigieg discussed some of the steps the President will outline today after meeting with stakeholders on supply chain issues such as ports operating 24/7 and truckers working increased hours, but cautioned that those near-term solutions don’t address the broader problems. 

“The issue is that there’s even more demand than the supply chain can support. Remember, we are relying on supply chains that were built generations ago. It’s one of the reasons why this entire year we have been talking about and working on infrastructure and are eager to see Congress to act to get this infrastructure deal through,” Buttigieg said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Buttigieg said the administration is working with the private sector to address the supply chain bottlenecks because private sector companies control much of the supply chain itself.

“We are also working right now with the private sector players who own and operate most of US supply chains to find ways to ease the bottlenecks that are impacting everything from consumer goods to construction goods in this country. This is a largely private sector system and a global one at that, but there are a lot of steps that we can take as an administration, as an honest broker,” he said, noting that today’s meeting at the White House will include private sector leaders as well as labor leaders and representatives from some of the country’s biggest ports.

Discussing the ongoing negotiations over the President’s infrastructure package, the transportation secretary said that while negotiations are ongoing, he believes the Democratic caucus will come together to get transformative legislation passed.

Read more about Buttigieg’s comments here.

Why pressure is growing for Biden to lift Trump's tariffs as supply chain problems worsen

This aerial photo taken on June 22, 2021 shows cargo containers stacked at Yantian port in Shenzhen in China's southern Guangdong province.

There’s a quick move President Biden could make to immediately help relieve the stress the pandemic-related supply chain crisis is having on US companies: Lift the tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump.

Trump put tariffs on roughly $350 billion of Chinese-made goods — and despite the change in administrations, those duties remain in place. American importers have paid more than $106 billion to cover the cost of those levies to date, and many of them are now facing skyrocketing shipping costs.

While the Biden administration has been conducting a comprehensive review of the US-China trade policy, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai only outlined a new strategy to counter what she described as China’s “unfair” and “state-centered” trade policy earlier this month. She also said the US government would begin a targeted tariff exclusion process, but the majority of tariffs will remain in place.

Now the pressure on the Biden administration to address the issue is ramping up, as supply chain problems are getting worse — resulting in shortages and higher prices for everything from sneakers to furniture to cars.

“Tariff relief is a fast and easy way to help companies hurt most by the shipping crisis stay in business and keep people employed,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Association of Apparel and Footwear.

The trade association sent a letter to the office of the US Trade Representative in September imploring the administration to provide relief from the tariffs. It was followed by a similar request from four major manufacturing associations, acknowledging that the supply chain disruptions will require long-term fixes, but argue that tariff removal could provide some immediate relief.

The supply chain problems, compounded with the trade distortions created by the duties “are hurting the competitiveness of US manufacturers and stalling the US economic recovery,” the groups wrote.

Read more about the tariffs here.

Biden will speak about the supply chain crisis after meeting with US port operators and carriers

The US government is stepping up its efforts to relieve the supply chain nightmare that has led to shortages of some goods, higher prices for consumes and now threatens to slow the economic recovery.

President Biden will meet with senior officials and stakeholders today to discuss collective efforts to address global transportation bottlenecks and then give a speech on Wednesday. 

Port operators, truckers’ associations, labor unions and executives from Walmart, FedEx, UPS and Target will attend the talks.

The White House will work with companies and ports on a “90-day sprint” to alleviate bottlenecks, according to a senior administration official. Some will start working 24/7 to address the backlogs.

The Port of Los Angeles will move to 24/7 service, bringing it into line with operations at the Port of Long Beach, which is already working on a 24/7 schedule, the official said. Those two ports handle 40% of container traffic in the US.

Around the world, ports are congested as a result of the rapid rebound in demand for commodities and goods as much of the global economy has recovered from the pandemic. Shipping costs have soared, and companies wanting to move goods around are struggling because there just aren’t enough ships or containers available.

All the while, prices are going up for consumers.

Read more about Biden’s meetings today here.

The global supply chain nightmare will get worse before it gets better, Moody's warns

Computer chip shortages. Epic port congestion. And a serious lack of truck drivers. The world’s delicate supply chains are under extreme stress.

The supply chain nightmare is jacking up prices for consumers and slowing the global economic recovery from Covid-19. Unfortunately, Moody’s Analytics warns supply chain disruptions “will get worse before they get better.”

“As the global economic recovery continues to gather steam, what is increasingly apparent is how it will be stymied by supply-chain disruptions that are now showing up at every corner,” Moody’s wrote in a Monday report

Indeed, the IMF downgraded its 2021 growth forecast for the United States on Tuesday by one percentage point, the most for any G7 economy. The IMF cited supply chain disruptions and weakening consumption – which has been partially driven by supply chain bottlenecks such as a lack of new cars to buy amid the computer chip shortage. 

“Border controls and mobility restrictions, unavailability of a global vaccine pass, and pent-up demand from being stuck at home have combined for a perfect storm where global production will be hampered because deliveries are not made in time, costs and prices will rise, and GDP growth worldwide will not be as robust as a result,” Moody’s wrote in the report. 

Moody’s said the “weakest link” may be the shortage of truck drivers – an issue that has contributed to congestion at ports and caused gas stations in the United Kingdom to run dry. 

Unfortunately, Moody’s warned there are “dark clouds ahead” because several factors make overcoming the supply chains particularly challenging.

First, the firm pointed to differences in how countries are fighting Covid, with China aiming for zero cases and the United States “more willing to live with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.”

“This presents a serious challenge to harmonizing the rules and regulations by which transport workers move in and out of ports and hubs around the world,” Moody’s wrote. 

Secondly, Moody’s cited how there is “no concerted global effort to ensure the smooth operation” of the worldwide logistics and transportation network.

Others are much more optimistic on the supply chain outlook. 

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said Monday that these supply chain hiccups will fade quickly.

“This will not be an issue next year at all,” Dimon said during a news conference held by the Institute of International Finance, CNBC reported. “This is the worst part of it. I think great market systems will adjust for it like companies have.”

READ MORE

Biden to discuss supply chain crisis with US ports and carriers
IMF slashes US growth forecast and warns of rising risks to the global economy
The screwed-up supply chain may have caused California oil spill disaster
The Biden administration's scramble to tame inflation
A global energy crisis is coming. There's no quick fix
Mounting problems test Biden's presidency and Democrats' hold on power

READ MORE

Biden to discuss supply chain crisis with US ports and carriers
IMF slashes US growth forecast and warns of rising risks to the global economy
The screwed-up supply chain may have caused California oil spill disaster
The Biden administration's scramble to tame inflation
A global energy crisis is coming. There's no quick fix
Mounting problems test Biden's presidency and Democrats' hold on power