It has rarely been more expensive to move sugar, coffee and copper around the world by sea.
Ocean freight rates began to soar last summer, and haven’t let up. That is partly because consumers, unable to spend money in restaurants, have splashed out on goods that move by sea. Retailers and manufacturers, meanwhile, have rushed to rebuild inventories.
The shortage of 40-foot steel shipping containers has snarled global supply chains for commodities, hiking prices for some raw materials. That is of interest to investors and economists, who have been on the watch for signs of inflation after governments and central banks flooded markets with cash to bolster the pandemic-hit global economy. So far, there hasn’t been a big increase in consumer prices.