Conversation

Preliminary thinking, speculation, and hypotheses. Earnestly intended and honestly attempted, but almost always needing further consideration, clarification, correction, or not-yet-found confirmation. These are research notes and homework still underway. Conversation is derived from the Latin meaning to turn together.

  • Demand decides
    In January 2016 real — inflation adjusted — Personal Consumption Expenditure in the United States was $12,799 billion. Four years later in January 2020 real PCE was $14,185 billion, very close to a ten percent increase. Early in the Pandemic PCE cratered (see first chart below). But by March 2021 PCE had recovered to $14,269 […]
  • Amalthea again
    On Saturday shipments from Cyprus to Gaza resumed. According to CNN, “The ship, called “Jennifer,” departed Larnaca Port in Cyprus at 9 a.m. local (2 a.m. ET) and will take around 25 to 30 hours to arrive at Israel’s Ashdod port, according to ANERA’s (American Near East Refugee Aid) emergency response team lead in the West […]
  • Demand marches ahead
    Personal Consumption Expenditures for March were a bit higher than expected. It is just a blip, but a boisterous blip. This PCE print signals a continued pattern of rather robust demand, including a significant monthly increase in demand for goods (compared to services). The March economy absolutely had spring in its step. See the first […]
  • Upstream flows for the Grid
    Below is yesterday’s (April 22, 2024) full-day fuel mix for the Texas grid. Proportions change seasonally and (obviously) by the time of day. But the major contributors remain the same: solar, wind, natural gas, coal/lignite, and nuclear. Other sources are very marginal, but can be vital when the grid is teetering on the edge. The […]
  • Grid Reliability and Supply Chain Resilience
    If the grid stays on or comes back quick, supply chains almost always persist. When and where the grid is gone and not bouncing back anytime soon (or anywhere close), supply chain resilience quickly becomes fundamental. Where water, food, fuel, and pharmaceuticals are still flowing while the grid is gone, human suffering can be mitigated. […]
  • Energy Fitness
    In my experience supply chain resilience can more-or-less be assumed if the grid persists and fuel is available. It may be difficult and treacherous, but where electricity and fuel can flow, demand and supply will conspire to keep other flows moving too. I have long argued that Supply Chain Resilience — as strategy and practice […]
  • Amplified demand (and supply)
    US retail sales growth for March was more than double what many economists expected. The Financial Times reported, “Data from the US Census Bureau published on Monday showed that retail sales, which include spending on food and petrol, rose 0.7 per cent last month. Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected an increase of 0.3 per […]
  • A bit more for Gaza
    The volume of supply trucks entering Gaza has increased since late March (see UN chart below). Volume remains below the 500-per-day pre-October 7 benchmark, but the improved pattern — especially if sustained — is helpful. Distribution of food and other freight once discharged inside Gaza remains very constrained and entirely insufficient for a significant portion […]
  • Bloomberg FSK Updates
    I am still aggregating updates at https://supplychainresilience.org/francis-scott-key-bridge-collapse. But this morning Bloomberg has some good general updates here and in the April 1 video below.
  • No flows for Gaza
    NBC News reviews persisting impediments for connecting demand (desperate need) to (plenty of) supply. Over the last week there has not been much change in actual flows since my March 24 update here (or for that matter since mid-December). Please see chart below. The Associated Press reports that, “A three-ship convoy left a port in […]
  • US consumer demand
    Same statistical report, three different headlines: From CNBC — Key Fed inflation gauge rose 2.8% annually in February, as expected From The Hill — Inflation ticker higher in February as consumer spending soared From FXStreet — Price pressures seen broadly unchanged Bloomberg summarized: “Inflation-adjusted consumer spending advanced 0.4%, above all estimates after a larger drop in the […]
  • DHL’s De Bok on Supply Chain Resilience
    While the prompt for this discussion is the collapse of the FSK Bridge, Mr. De Bok’s answers are relevant to much broader demand and supply networks. His answers also reflect an emerging strategic consensus that — so far — is much more aspirational than habitual for the vast majority of supply chains. Entirely worth a […]
  • Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse
    The Baltimore Sun reports, “Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning after a support column was struck by a vessel, sending cars and at least one tractor-trailer into the Patapsco River.” The Sun is updating here. The Washington Post is updating here. The Maryland DOT 511 Traffic Map is available here. The Annual […]
  • March (well, February) Flow Fitness
    How goes food, fuel, and freight as the Northern Hemisphere pivots toward Spring? Gaza, Haiti, Sudan, and much of the Sahel and Horn of Africa face life-threatening food disconnects. There are food-related riots in Nigeria. Mozambique seems trapped in a manic cycle of drought, flood, and civil strife. Profound drought in Brazil threatens this year’s […]
  • Amalthea Maritime Channel
    Maritime food flows from Cyprus to Gaza were a good idea when first proposed in early November (more). This idea was even more promising last December when the EU endorsed and Israel signaled a tentative readiness to cooperate. If flows had actually begun in January our current context would be much more constructive. Maybe the […]
  • Nabulsi Roundabout Turn?
    Thursday’s calamity at Nabulsi continues to reverberate. There are many reports on different versions of what happened (for example, here and here and here). A March 1 report by the Wall Street Journal is most coherent with what I am hearing from other usually credible sources. (I was airborne at the time.) A Friday report […]
  • Persistent US Pull
    On Thursday the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported, “Personal income increased $233.7 billion (1.0 percent at a monthly rate) in January. Disposable personal income (DPI)—personal income less personal current taxes—increased $67.6 billion (0.3 percent). Personal outlays—the sum of personal consumption expenditures (PCE), personal interest payments, and personal current transfer payments—increased $54.3 billion (0.3 percent) […]
  • 133 Days
    In this February 16 report, NBC news provides a two-minute summary of causes and consequences of disrupted flows serving the people of Gaza. More detail is available here and here and here and here. Particular midstream logistical complications are outlined in this January 8 report by the World Food Program’s LogCluster. According to the United […]
  • February supply chain fitness update
    Reality is superabundant. Where are we looking? Over what time period? To what do we give priority? Lots of different angles to consider. Each month I try to evaluate the current condition of big flows. Here is where I landed in mid-January. Below are three gross indicators. Farther below are are few links to a […]
  • A no-win supply chain scenario?
    Please consider this scenario: One-hundred twenty days ago a Magnitude 7-plus earthquake hit a dense urban area. More than 2.3 million people are crowded into a roughly 25 mile by 6 mile matrix between a treacherously rocky littoral and high mountains. Almost everyday since there have been multiple after-shocks, many between M6 and M7. At […]
  • Noto: Lessons still to be learned
    On New Year’s Day the Noto Peninsula on the west coast of Japan experienced a significant earthquake. The US Geological Survey reported a Magnitude 7.5 quake. The main quake has been followed by more than 1500 aftershocks including one M6.4 and more than a dozen between M5 and M6. Today, February 6, for the first […]
  • Persistent PCE Pull
    Supply chains perceive demand. Supply chains are pulled by demand. Contemporary supply chains organize, size, and time push toward demand. One way to estimate pull in US supply chains is real (inflation-adjusted) Personal Consumption Expenditures (here and here). The chart below provides an overview of pull patterns since 2007 (figured with constant 2017 dollars). The […]
  • Deadly Network Friction
    According to an update from COGAT, the Israel Defense Forces unit coordinating access to Gaza, 227 humanitarian aid trucks were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip on January 15. “This is the highest number of aid trucks being transferred to Gaza in one day since the start of the war. 111 trucks were inspected […]
  • Big system, big flows, big picture just now
    So far, retrospective data and current observations suggest that US demand and supply networks are well-balanced. The Global Supply Chain Pressure Index ended December hovering around its long-term average. The Cass Freight Index is similarly well-behaved if compared to several pre-pandemic year-ends (more and more). The Logistics Managers Index, “moved back into expansion territory in […]

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