The answer (or nonanswer)
The Biden administration, while acknowledging there's a problem, basically says that because the economy was shut down during COVID-19, it can't just be flipped back on.
If, as an investor, that answer leaves you feeling a tad dissatisfied regarding alleviating any concerns you might have about investing in retail, you're not alone. Many people want answers as to what caused this massive logistics fiasco and what is going to be done about it now that it's happened.
The Biden's administration infrastructure spending bill would address part of the problem by earmarking $17 billion for coastal ports. The holdup is what the rest of the "infrastructure" bill would include, as the total price tag would be $1.2 trillion (down from $2.3 trillion). For this reason, the Biden administration refers to the plan as the American Jobs Plan since most of the money will not go toward infrastructure in the classic sense -- roads, bridges, and ports -- and would go instead toward other things.
No easy fixes
Another issue causing port congestion, besides old infrastructure, is on the U.S. side: labor relations, a chronic, toxic problem within our ports. Contract negotiations are fraught with contentiousness. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledges the labor-management difficulties, and so far, has only this to say: There are no "easy fixes."
Lower productivity at U.S. ports is the result. Chinese ports, for example, do the same job in half the time as U.S. ports, and they stay open for business 24/7, compared with 16 hours a day at LA-Long Beach.
The Millionacres bottom line
With responses such as the supply chain "can't just be flipped back on," and there are no "easy fixes," investors in retail can't be jumping for joy just yet. Everyone agrees there's a supply chain problem and congestion at our ports. But there's no telling how much longer this will last, since there doesn't yet seem to be any clear solutions as to how to tackle the problems. The executive director at Port of Los Angeles Gene Seroka thinks the congestion problem will continue for at least six more months.