On The Money — Chains you can't believe in: Biden tackles supply snarls

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© Getty Images On The Money — Chains you can’t believe in: Biden tackles supply snarls

Today’s Big Deal: The White House is scrambling to untangle supply chains with prices rising and the holidays looming. We’ll also look at the latest inflation data and how Social Security is responding to rising prices.

But first, check out how cheap certain political Halloween costumes have become.

For The Hill, I’m Sylvan Lane. Write me at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane. You can reach my colleagues on the Finance team Naomi Jagoda at njagoda@thehill.com or @NJagoda and Aris Folley at afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley.

Let’s get to it.

White House scrambles to avert supply chain crisis

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Snags and shortages in the global supply chain are creating steep challenges for President Biden at a time when he’s already grappling with low approval ratings and major hurdles to getting his economic agenda through Congress.

The White House sought to demonstrate that administration officials are tackling the supply chain disruptions head on with Wednesday’s announcement that the Port of Los Angeles, as well as FedEx, UPS and Walmart, will rev up operations to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Biden also delivered a speech detailing the efforts.

  • The supply chain bottlenecks – such as chip shortages and a resulting lack of new cars on the market – are largely due to the enduring stress on the global economy sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic more than 18 months ago.
  • They now threaten to disrupt the holiday shopping season.

“Certainly this is a danger point for the administration. Whatever the cause of the bottlenecks, the public has not been overly patient with these kinds of problems in the past,” said Austan Goolsbee, economics professor at the Chicago Booth School of Business who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) under former President Obama.

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Goolsbee said Biden’s moves to expand port capacity are “important and correct” but will only ease the problem, not fix it.

“And Republicans don’t much care whether Biden’s economic plan would expand supply or even if it has nothing to do with prices at all. If something unpopular is happening, they will say it is because of the president,” he added.

Alex Gangitano breaks it down here.

Biden’s game plan: The president on Wednesday vowed to call out companies that don’t step up and address the global supply chain bottlenecks, urging support from the whole private sector.

  • Biden noted that Target, Home Depot and Samsung have all committed to ramp up their hours.
  • The Port of Long Beach moved to 24/7 service last month.
  • The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has made a commitment to staffing 24/7, and the terminal operators in the port will be responsible for booking the cargo movements in the off-hours.

“I want to be clear, this is an across-the-board commitment to going to 24/7. This is a big first step in speeding up the movement of materials and goods through our supply chain but now we need the rest of the private sector chain to step up as well,” Biden said.

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“All of these goods won’t move by themselves. For the positive impact to be felt all across the country and by all of you at home, we need major retailers who ordered the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from the ships to factories and to stores to step up as well,” he continued

Read more: White House weighing steps to address gas shortages

LEADING THE DAY

Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in September, up 5.4 percent over last year

Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in September and 5.4 percent in the year leading into last month, according to data released Wednesday by the Labor Department.

  • The consumer price index (CPI), which tracks inflation, rose at a slightly faster rate than expected last month largely due to sharp increases in food and energy prices, which are typically more volatile. Economists expected the CPI to rise 0.3 percent last month.
  • The CPI without food and energy prices, known as “core inflation,” rose 0.2 percent last month, in line with expectations.

Inflation has lingered at decades-plus highs for much of 2021 as the swift rebound in economic activity and federal stimulus efforts strained supply chains and manufacturers still struggle to meet higher demand. I break down the latest here.

SOCIAL SECURITY SEES BOOST

Social Security benefits will soon see highest increase in decades

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 70 million Americans will increase by almost 6 percent next year, marking its biggest increase in nearly 40 years.

The agency announced seniors will begin to see the 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustments starting next year, the highest since 1982. The office also said increased payments for about 8 million SSI beneficiaries are scheduled to start on Dec. 30.

The changes come as fears over inflation have swelled in recent months amid an increase in prices, adding pressure to the White House as the nation’s economy continues to recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Read more.

WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD

Thousands of Hollywood production workers threaten strike

Roughly 60,000 film and TV production crew workers will go on strike Monday if they do not secure a new contract with Hollywood and streaming giants.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) President Matthew Loeb said Wednesday that the union will continue to negotiate with studios to secure more time for meal breaks and sleep and better wages. If they cannot come to an agreement by 12:01 a.m. Monday, production workers will begin a nationwide strike.

“[The] pace of bargaining doesn’t reflect any sense of urgency,” Loeb said. “Without an end date, we could keep talking forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs addressed now.”

Read more.

Good to Know

© Provided by The Hill Visual representation of bitcoin cryptocurrency

The U.S. has overtaken China as the largest bitcoin center after Beijing tamped down on cryptocurrency mining in recent months.

Here’s what else have our eye on:

  • The chief executive of German automaker Volkswagen recently warned the company could lose 30,000 jobs if it took too long to shift to electric vehicles in Germany, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee expects executives from Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron and Shell to testify at a hearing on climate disinformation.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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