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What’s To Blame?

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Daniel Yergin and Matteo Fini blame today’s serious shortage of computer chips on pandemic lockdowns and on a drought in Taiwan, a fire at a Japanese semiconductor factory, and a winter storm in Texas. (“For Auto Makers, the Chip Famine Will Persist,” Sept. 23).

Alas, only one of these four events is to blame: lockdowns.

Factory fires, droughts, and winter storms – along with hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, tornados, and dust storms – happen every year, yet they never cause global supply disruptions of the sort that have become commonplace since Spring 2020. The only events of the past 18 months that are out of the ordinary are lockdowns; these, therefore, are the only genuine cause of today’s supply disruptions.

Blaming inadequate production on weather events (and on other routine mishaps such as factory fires) is akin to the Soviet-era practice of blaming the perpetual shortages of consumer goods in the U.S.S.R. on an uncooperative mother nature rather than on the iron fist of the state that obstructed voluntary commerce.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030