At the beginning of the year, we looked at how an explosion in demand for consumer electronics led to a shortage of microchips across the globe. This semiconductor shortfall has continued in the intervening months and its impact has spread across numerous industries. Along with preventing carmakers from installing vital microchips in vehicles, the shortage has also hindered production of iPads, farming equipment, and even dog grooming machines. 

“This particular problem affects all aspects of manufacturing, from little people Continue reading

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April 29, 2021

The current vaccine rollout that is going strong throughout the country is largely the result of multi-billion dollar deals struck between economic powers like the U.S. and U.K. with pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Moderna. But while bilateral trade agreements across the globe allowed for the largest vaccine rollout in history, this video looks at why these deals are also delaying the vaccination process in struggling countries like Brazil and India.

Questions:

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of bilateral Continue reading
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April 22, 2021

Earlier this week, we looked at how pandemic lockdowns led to increased consumer demand as well as supply chain problems that are delaying deliveries around the world. Large-scale disruptions such as the Suez Canal blockage and the traffic jam at the Port of Los Angeles have resulted in wide-ranging financial damage to all sorts of small operators who cannot get their hands on vital merchandise. For instance, one restaurant in Oklahoma must pay $200 for a case of gloves that Continue reading

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April 20, 2021

On any given day since mid-2020, the Port of Los Angeles has had as many as 30 container ships anchored outside and waiting to eventually dock. This video looks at how the pandemic inspired a boom in online purchases while also causing a shortage of shipping workers, leading to the transportation crisis currently taking place at ports across the world. 

Questions:

  1. How did the pandemic lead to supply chain problems that caused traffic jams at major ports around the Continue reading
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April 8, 2021

Movie theaters across the country closed for months last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and then struggled to recover once other businesses began to reopen. After Tenet disappointed at the box office during the summer, other would-be blockbusters like Wonder Woman: 1984 and Raya and the Last Dragon were simultaneously released in theaters and on streaming services. This radical change in distribution made industry observers and uneasy theater owners wonder if moviegoers would continue to remain at home as Continue reading

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March 30, 2021

Last week, one of the world’s most important commercial waterways shut down as a 200,000-ton vessel became lodged in the Suez Canal. After the enormous ship could not be removed immediately, experts started to worry that Ever Given would remain stuck for weeks and wreak billions of dollars in economic havoc. Then yesterday, the container ship was finally dislodged from the canal with the help of high-powered tugboats and an unusually high tide brought on by a full moon.

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March 25, 2021

On an average day, at least 10 percent of global trade passes through Egypt’s Suez Canal aboard more than 50 ships. That hasn’t been the case since Tuesday, however, when a 200,000-ton container ship ran aground and became lodged in the narrow canal. Although tugboats and earthmovers have attempted to remove the enormous obstruction, so far their efforts have failed as trade on this vital waterway has come to a halt. 

“I have never seen a container vessel this Continue reading

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March 16, 2021

The pandemic took a major toll on entertainment and recreational facilities as everything from theaters to gyms were forced to shut down or drastically alter their operations. Although golf courses and tennis courts initially closed in March and April 2020, they soon reopened and welcomed all sorts of new players looking for socially distanced outdoor activities. From June to December 2020, rounds of golf in the U.S. grew by 75 million compared to the same period in 2019, representing a Continue reading

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March 9, 2021

As dining rooms closed across the country in 2020 because of the pandemic, restaurants started focusing their efforts on takeout and drive-thru orders. Many companies added new technology and logistical plans for their takeaway operations that will likely remain in place after the pandemic is over. For instance, Starbucks sent employees with hand-held devices through lines of cars to gather orders quickly and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. New Chipotle locations will feature “Chipotelanes” where customers Continue reading

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March 5, 2021

The wholesaler Costco is one of the most successful retailers in the country due in large part to its unique approach to doing business. This video looks at the strategies that Costco uses to keep prices low while still offering many items in bulk.

Questions:

  1. How does Costco’s membership plan drive its business? 
  2. Why are items at Costco kept on pallets rather than laid out neatly on shelves like in supermarkets?
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