How the Ever Forward Is Like Her Sister

The Ever Forward is stuck.

Sound familiar? The Ever Given got stuck a year ago, Catastrophically blocking the Suez Canal and 367 ships for six days, she (he?) had to stay in the Canal’s Great Bitter Lake for more than three months. After finally agreeing to a financial settlement, the canal authorities let the boat leave.

Diagonally wedged in, the Ever Given carried 17,600 containers:

Far from Suez, the Chesapeake Bay is now the temporary home of the Ever Forward. She had been traveling from Baltimore, Maryland to Norfolk, Virginia with a 4,900 container cargo when Sunday, March 13, she alerted the authorities. Stuck in 24 feet of mud, the ship will be tough to re-float. Happily, she is blocking no other vessels.

Including the Ever Dainty, Ever Boomy, and Ever Cozy, the Ever Given and Ever Forward have a slew of siblings. Although many have created huge cargo delays, some shipping glitches have made retailers happy.

Cargo Delays

In a normal year, at the end of the season, retailers unload unsold inventory onto discounters’ trucks. T.J Maxx and Ross Stores get the merchandise that full price sellers are left with. Now though, since transport has taken at least an extra 50 days from Asia to the U.S. West Coast, it’s easy to miss a fashion season. Gap says it has 10-week delays for seasonal merchandise. Express said it is holding $12 million of its inventory for its outlet stores.

Arriving during the Spring, the Spring stuff will be too late. Creating “terrific buying opportunities,” it is precisely what the off-price stores want. The difference is just where the clothing has resided. Instead of store hangers, they were in ship hangars.

Our Bottom Line: Externalities

Affecting goods that ranged from ovens to LNG and livestock, cargo delays created ripples of disruption. Called externalities because of their widespread impact, one industry’s delays cascaded into others. From the delayed ships and others that needed to reroute, the Ever Given’s negative externalities multiplied:

We do though have the discounters giving us a positive externality.

And finally, I do want to conclude with a smile. This is my favorite canal cartoon:

My sources and more: It was a pleasure having four articles converge. NPR focused on the Ever Given update; WSJ detailed the discounters; and CBS News and Slate told about the Ever Forward.

Originally published at https://econlife.com on March 22, 2022.

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Econlife Team

Econlife Team

Located at the intersection of current events, history, and economics, econlife® slices away all of the layers that make economics boring and complex.

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