First, it was a demand slump across pretty much every manufacturing industry because of the pandemic. Then a surge in demand for electronics caused a shortage of microchips, which hit the automotive industry particularly hard. Now, the Texas Freeze has caused a global shortage of plastics. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the cold spell that shut down oil fields and refineries in Texas is still affecting operations, with several petrochemical plants on the Gulf Coast remaining closed a month after the end of the crisis. This creates a shortage of essential raw materials for a range of industries, from carmaking to medical consumables and even house building.
The WSJ report mentions carmakers Honda and Toyota as two companies that would need to start cutting output because of the plastics shortage, which came on top of an already pressing shortage of microchips. Ford, meanwhile, is cutting shifts because of the chip shortage and building some models only partially. GM, on the other hand, has started building some pickup trucks without a fuel management module because of the shortages, which will affect the fuel economy performance of these cars.
Yet, the automaking industry is just one victim of the abnormal circumstances on the planet and the Gulf Coast. Another is the construction industry. The WSJ reports, citing industry insiders, that following the petrochemical shutdowns, builders are bracing for shortages of everything from siding to insulation.