“The traffic jam of the recovery” 
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“The traffic jam of the recovery” 

Marco A. Guerritore 
Editor in Chief of Italian Fasteners Magazine

The general belief was that the COVID-19 pandemic would develop according to a well-defined pattern: pandemic phase, research and definition of a viable vaccine, slow resumption of economic activities in a climate that had begun to return to normal.

After the worsening of the infection, the long-awated vaccine finally arrived, the result of intensive studies and frenetic research in the field; unfortunately, this reality is – inevitably – contested by the anti-vaxxers. In any case, in just under three years, the COVID-19 phenomenon has completely influenced and compromised various balances, such as the social-health and especially, the economic-production balances. In particular, the pandemic has left a clear mark on the labour sector, especially at its most acute moment. Companies have had to reshape their activities and revise their operational methods, rethinking their work plans. On the management front, uncertainty has become more and more threatening. The questions asked by operational managers were: “What do we do?” “How do we deal with the issues imposed by the pandemic?” Fortunately, however, the worst of the situation was mitigated by the arrival of the vaccine, which instilled confidence in a future that appeared very uncertain. But what was supposed to be a normal economic recovery is actually proving to be a nervous, chaotic, disorderly awakening. The crossroads of the general malaise is attributable to a container shipping traffic jam: a piece of the Pacific Ocean has been transformed into a gigantic parking lot. On average, 70 to 100 ships float offshore for days or weeks because there are no vacant docks to berth and unload containers. Not to mention the problem of the giants of the sea, the mega-containers, which are oversized and have difficulty in finding the right dock. All this cabotage clogs the seas, pollutes the environment and causes other major inconveniences. Supermarkets with no goods, companies waiting for parts, many dissatisfied end consumers. Numerous economic sectors are therefore suffering: from semiconductors, to cars, water heaters and household appliances, to tyres and electrical-medical equipment. But the “Mother of all traffic jams” was not long in making her evil effects felt throughout the economic and social sector. On average, shipping rates have recently increased by 450%. Global congestion of the seas is one of the many factors contributing to inflation. In America, consumer prices have risen by 6.2% and wholesale prices by 8.6%. The US Central Bank has so far tried to reassure everyone. Its favourite insurance company attributes inflation to a “funnel effect” created by pandemics and therefore surmountable. We are all inclined to believe and hope that these are indeed anomalous and transitory situations. But the doubt that the funnel could suddenly become clogged, perhaps with a surge of Covid, possibly called Omicron, greatly disrupts our sleep.

In conclusion, the great hope is that the post-Covid recovery will not be reduced to a great big bubble.