Energy Prices: How a Truck Driver Shortage in Europe Could Affect Your Wallet in the United States

Europe is becoming the center of a total energy crisis causing blackouts and plant shutdowns there, but it is also affecting prices in the United States. An example: the price of natural gas, which heats half of American homes, is up 180%.
Oil prices have also skyrocketed, thanks to long-depleted production by OPEC and the United States. Analysts expect gasoline prices to continue to rise.

What is happening? There are specific and complicated reasons why prices go up.

CNN’s Julia Horowitz explains how several factors converged to create the energy crisis in Europe:
  • A cold spring depleted natural gas stocks.
  • Replenishing supplies has been difficult, thanks to an unexpected surge in demand as the economy rebounds after Covid-19.
  • There is a growing appetite for liquefied natural gas in China.
  • Russia is also providing less natural gas to the market than before the pandemic.
  • Meanwhile, other sources of energy were less readily available, with calm summer weather calming wind farms in the North Sea.
  • Countries are ditching coal as pressure mounts to tackle the climate crisis.
  • Germany is also preparing to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

Countries like Spain and France are stepping in to subsidize energy bills.

No wonder U.S. diplomats are increasingly frustrated with Russia’s plan to head to Europe with a new pipeline that will make Russia the continent’s natural gas supplier.

It’s the way from the coal-fired power stations to your iPhone. CNN’s Jill Disis writes about power outages in China.

“The world’s biggest polluter is trying to keep its promise that its carbon emissions will peak before 2030. This forces its provinces to use less fossil fuels for every unit of economic output, for example by burning less coal to produce energy. electricity. At the same time, the demand for products made in China has increased as the global economy emerges from the pandemic. Result: not enough power for everyone. “

The shortage of drivers could close gas stations. In the UK, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was proud to withdraw his country from the EU via his Brexit plan, they are now offering emergency visas to foreign truck drivers to keep gas stations open.

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They may have to call in the military to step in and drive trucks to fill up dried-up gas stations.

Don’t laugh at them for it, though. In the United States, Massachusetts has mobilized its National Guard to help children get to school, as there aren’t enough bus drivers either.

What happened to the drivers? CNN’s Liz Stark writes:

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the number of drivers immersed at the start of the pandemic. Between March and April 2020, the trucking industry lost more than 88,000 jobs, and mass transit and passenger ground transportation lost more than 185,000 in that month alone.

The driver shortage is one of the reasons Costco is once again restricting toilet paper purchases.

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When CNN wrote in May about the beginnings of the truck driver shortage, it was suggested that higher wages might in fact have the opposite effect on drivers, who use the salary to reduce driving hours and achieve a better quality of life through a grueling career that takes them away from home.

The auto industry is worse off than previously thought. Meanwhile, automakers around the world are still frustrated with the shortage of microchips. Add it to a number of other shortages.

Chips “are just one of many extraordinary disruptions the industry faces – including everything from resin and steel shortages to labor shortages,” Mark Wakefield, co. – world leader in automotive and industrial practice at the industrial consultant AlixPartners. “Chris Isidore.” There is no room for error for automakers and suppliers at this time. “

Millions of cars run out. The parts shortage will lead automakers to build 7.7 million fewer vehicles around the world than they otherwise would have, according to AlixPartners.

This is a huge increase from the shortage of 3.9 million vehicles predicted in May.

When will there be electronic chips? Isidore writes: “We expected the microchip supply to hit the lowest in the second quarter of this year and then start to improve. But an increase in Covid-19 cases has sparked a new round of shortages, as chip factories have been forced to shut down temporarily. in some hard-hit countries, such as Malaysia. “

When will the prices go down? Dana Peterson, the Conference Board’s chief economist, writes that this inflation surge could last a year.

“Yes, the intensity of the price hikes has slowed over the summer, but the Delta variant and its disruption risks another US consumer price spike in the fall. Even if they don’t happen, consumers are unlikely to see their prices drop this year thanks to a shortage of computer chips, increasing wage pressures as businesses reopen and the return of rent increases, ”she writes.

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