Supply chains

Remember panic-buying? Here’s what will happen next time

It’s post-Christmas, and there are already murmurs about supermarkets with empty shelves. Just as with the petrol shortage in September and shortages of loo paper at the beginning of the first lockdown, these things can rapidly develop into major crises, purely as a result of panic-buying. Tesco, whose store on the Isle of Wight is reportedly especially empty post-Christmas, denies it has any problem with its supply chain — which had been threatened with disruption thanks to an industrial dispute involving the company’s lorry drivers in early December. People may, on the other hand, have stocked up more than usual in response to fears of a post-Christmas lockdown — a fear which

The car industry’s China crisis

New cars could soon start disappearing from Britain’s forecourts, with the latest supply chain crunch threatening to cripple the global motor industry. It’s a crisis that once again delivers a stark warning about the dangers of over-dependence on China and the costs of succumbing to Beijing’s predatory trade practices. The automotive industry is currently facing a critical shortage of magnesium, which is an essential raw material for the production of aluminium alloys, including gearboxes, steering columns, fuel tank covers and seat frames. Stockpiles are running low, there is no substitute for magnesium in the production of aluminium sheets, and China has a near monopoly on the market. In Germany, Europe’s