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
Continue reading...

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

Continue reading...

As Americans start to travel once again, many people are getting sticker shock at the rental car counter as prices have increased significantly in the last few months. This video looks at how cost-cutting strategies used by rental companies during the pandemic have led to a shortage of cars that is likely to persist throughout the summer travel season. 

Questions:

  1. Why have rental car prices increased in recent months?
  2. What does the video recommend for travelers who are looking Continue reading
Continue reading...

June 22, 2021

Last month, we looked at how the global shortage of microchips has severely restricted production of everything from video game consoles to dog washing stations. This video examines the manufacturing process for these precious components and explains why semiconductor production cannot be easily increased. 

Questions:

  1. Why is it difficult for manufacturers to speed up production on microchips and semiconductors?
  2. What are some possible solutions for increasing global microchip production?
Continue reading...

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

Continue reading...

Last week, hackers began a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline, a major conduit that supplies nearly half of the East Coast’s oil. The hack completely shut down petroleum transportation as the Colonial Pipeline Company “proactively took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which has temporarily halted all pipeline operations, and affected some of our IT systems.” Although the company expects to have most of its capabilities returned by the end of the week, the shutdown has resulted in Continue reading

Continue reading...

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

Continue reading...

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

Continue reading...

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
Continue reading...

March 19, 2021

Last month, we looked at how NBA Top Shot sells digital basketball cards for thousands of dollars through its online marketplace. Since then, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) like Top Shot cards have skyrocketed in value, with one viral gif selling for $600,000 while a NFT artwork was sold through Christie’s auction house for tens of millions. This video explains how NFTs operate along with their possible drawbacks. 

Questions:

  1. How did some NFTs come to be worth thousands or even millions Continue reading
Continue reading...