Consumers are splurging on cars and furniture—and facing extended waits for delivery. Restaurants and gyms are reopening—and struggling to find workers. Factories and home builders are trying to ramp up—but are short on semiconductors or raw materials.
Federal Reserve officials and most economists largely play down supply and cost problems as transitory, saying they aren’t widespread enough to threaten corporate profits or the broader U.S. economy for long, especially amid strong sales.
But problems are acute for some individual businesses and even entire industries. Executives from gadget giant Apple Inc. to mattress seller Tempur Sealy International Inc. said last week that supply-chain issues could curb their growth in the short term. Others have responded by raising prices on everything from diapers to air conditioners.
The Covid-19 outbreak paralyzed both supply and demand last spring. This spring, vaccinations and government stimulus have created imbalances in many sectors.
“The very sudden stop to the economy, and then the very quick restart, has created a lot of havoc—a lot of businesses have gotten caught flat-footed,” said David Lefkowitz, head of Americas equities for UBS Global Wealth Management.