July 21, 2021

Over the last month, communities across the Western United States have imposed restrictions on water use as a major drought wreaks havoc on the region. This video looks at how the drop in the supply of surface water has hurt California farmers and why their pain could soon ripple out across the country.

Questions:

  1. How has the drought in the Western U.S. affected farmers in the region? 
  2. Do you think regulators should place restrictions on the use of groundwater Continue reading
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Yesterday, we looked at how cost-cutting measures used by rental car companies to survive the pandemic have now led to supply problems that are affecting travelers across the country. But rental cars aren’t the only items that are in short supply these days. For instance, a garden supply store called Valley View Farms experienced record sales of patio furniture in March as customers began to emerge from the extended stays at home. Soon after this boom, though, the Maryland retailer Continue reading

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The pandemic led to widespread disruptions across the world’s supply chains, leading to inflation and higher prices for many commodities. In response to these increasing costs, some companies have elected to reduce the size of their packaging rather than raise prices. For instance, Walmart shrank its Great Value paper towel rolls from 168 sheets to 120 sheets while the Tillamook County Creamery Association reduced its family sized ice cream containers from 56 ounces to 48 ounces. 

“Consumers check the Continue reading

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Nearly a month after a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline led to gasoline shortages across the nation, this week hackers targeted and shut down some operations at JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier. Like the previous incident, the perpetrators infiltrated the company’s computer systems and demanded a ransom to unlock them. Although JBS said that its systems are coming back online, it nevertheless had to halt operations at processing plants throughout the U.S. and Australia as a result of the attack. Continue reading

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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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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.

Now Continue reading

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December 16, 2020

This video looks at how pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Moderna will distribute the Covid-19 vaccine in the coming months. 

Questions:

  1. Who will receive first priority for receiving the Covid-19 vaccine?
  2. What sort of logistical issues are pharmaceutical companies expected to face while distributing the vaccine?
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September 24, 2020

With audiences largely reluctant to return to the movies, it’s not just theater chains that are struggling to adapt to life during the pandemic. Farmers who supply theaters with popcorn have seen orders for their product almost disappear as retail suppliers have seen sales surge. While Orville Redenbacher, Jolly Time, and Pop Secret have benefited from consumers staying home, the Preferred Popcorn company in Nebraska has millions of tons of unsold kernels on hand.

Preferred Popcorn primarily supplies snack distributors Continue reading

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August 6, 2020

Global sales of household cleaning products and disinfectants have skyrocketed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, supplies of some products have become increasingly strained as even the biggest brands struggle to keep up with demand. For example, Clorox CEO Benno Dorer said that the company will not be able to fully stock grocery store shelves with disinfectant wipes until at least 2021. 

Clorox has also been running low on many of its most popular items, Continue reading

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