Those people who start the Christmas season while clearing the Thanksgiving dishes might be right.
“You’re lucky you got your Christmas tree when you did,” James Bianco, founder and president of his eponymously named research firm, said in support of the early birds. “It might actually be harder to get it in the coming weeks” as the new omicron coronavirus variant further clogs supply lines, threatening to push U.S. inflation even higher above 6%.
“We’ve already got record demand for durable consumption, record demand for retail products,” Bianco said in an interview on Monday. “Yet we don’t have those products to meet them. They’re either stuck in the Los Angeles port or we’re just not going back to work to make them. That might mean more inflation.”
Unlike earlier COVID-19 surges, the threat is that omicron — with the travel and other restrictions it brings — will constrain supply and keep people from returning to the workforce at a time when inflation is already high, he said. “This is going to change the calculus quite a bit, especially for the Federal Reserve,” Bianco said.
Should omicron slow the economy, and the Fed decide to keep its stimulative stance in response, “you might wind up making it worse” by causing inflation to accelerate, Bianco said.
“The bond market might not like it,” he said. “The stock market might like it. But you won’t get the same reaction out of both markets like we have every other time.”
Flooding and fire in Canada is also hampering Christmas-tree exports. The country is the world’s largest exporter — and many of the nearly 2 million trees they ship go to the U.S.
"Mother Nature is your silent partner in any farming … She hasn't been very cooperative in the last few years," Shirley Brennan, executive director of Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario, told Canada’s CBC News.
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