Waning consumer demand puts U.S. ports in a different place

Courtesy Port of New Orleans

In January, 109 container ships waited off the California coast to unload cargo in Los Angeles and Long Beach, and importers were paying $20,000 to send a single container from China to the U.S.—sometimes more than the goods inside were worth.

That’s all changed, reports the Associated Press. The supply backlogs of the past two years—and the delays, shortages and outrageous prices that came with them—have improved dramatically since summer. The web of factories, railroads, ports, warehouses and freight yards that link goods to customers have nearly regained their pre-pandemic levels.

The main factor behind the improvement has been diminished demand for manufactured goods. Spending on goods has fallen for three straight quarters, according to the Commerce Department. Higher borrowing rates, engineered by the Federal Reserve to try to tame inflation, have reduced Americans’ willingness to buy more physical things. Inflation itself has sapped their spending power. Read the full story.