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Shortages and Breakdowns

user profile picture Chris Martenson Feb 29, 2020
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It’s not the fall that hurts, it’s suddenly stopping.  In December 2019 the entire world, just-in-time global economy was humming along, a month later it metaphorically ran into a brick wall.

A stop so sudden that nobody has any clue how badly the system was harmed.  Because it’s a complex system it also means that nobody can predict any of the actual consequences.

Apple’s manufacturing process is complicated.  Apple’s supply chain from raw sand to finished phone is complex.  Things that are complicated can be modeled and resolved.  Things that are complex cannot.

Complex systems defy every attempt at predictive modeling.  Instead they have emergent behaviors that can be observed.  Perhaps you can place a boundary around these behaviors, such as predicting that on a nice day at the beach there won’t be any sudden 16-foot waves out of nowhere.  But beyond that one cannot predict the particular shape of any of the complex smaller wave structures.

All of which is a fancy way of saying nobody has any idea what’s about to happen over the next few months as a complex industrial network tries to re-start itself after an abrupt shutdown.

Shortages

I’ve been trying to warn people that their jobs and livelihoods are at risk.  So they should begin to save money if they can.  As well there are already shortage of certain critical items such as face masks (which we all know about) but probably many other things including life-critical medicines.

Here’s a vitally important Twitter thread I ran across yesterday that spells this out.  It’s a series of anecdotes but (assuming you believe them, and they are not merely made up for amusement) that are each a point – a dot – that assemble themselves into a picture once you view enough of them.

Here’s the link: https://twitter.com/HoarseWisperer/status/1233456792157532166

Here are a few that captured my attention:

I could keep going – there are hundreds of these to sift through, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Here’s the main point:

Many of these are the “first order” impacts.  A company runs out of needed raws or intermediates or finished goods from a key supplier.

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