I won’t fill this with the vast variety of world-wide news stories stretching back over the past six months (easily accessible by Googling the words ‘panama canal global warming’), but the stories all support the fact that climate change (global warming) is reducing the water available to the Panama Canal, which in turn is reducing thee number of ships allowed to proceed through it. This in turn is increasing the backlog of ships waiting to enter the Canal.
This reduces the supply of the vast amount of goods destined to the US which passes through the Canal and which will likely increase prices - and therefore increase inflationary pressure. As the El Ninyo weather pattern is expected next year, this is expected to exacerbate the problem.
A butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing affects the weather in NYC.
Worth noting that the Panama Canal has opened a new set of locks big enough to handle the new Neo-Panamax ships, which carry almost 3 times the cargo of the biggest ships that used to pass, the Panamax.
The new locks are deeper, wider, and longer than the old ones and obviously spill a lot more water from Gatun Lake with each passing. (They have been designed to recover some of that water, unlike the originals, but with both sets of locks running, and these bigger ones spilling more, the amount of water to run the locks is a concern.)
Global warming may also be a factor, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I can point to a more concrete reason for the issue.
If this is really a developing issue/problem/opportunity - wouldn’t stuff destined for the US be able to land on the West Coast instead of transit the Canal and use RR’s to move the stuff around the country? Might this be an opportunity for the Railroads? (investable?)
Water is the cheapest way to move stuff. The US has a major geographical and economic advantage over most countries in that regard. We have several good deep water ocean ports. Plus we have a number of navigable rivers large enough for freight, primarily the Mississippi, along with the Missouri and Columbia. As well as the intercoastal waterway and the Great Lakes.
Yes, and the most stunning feature of all is all of that except the Columbia is navigably interconnected at Chicago (connecting the entirety of Mississippi drainage to the Great Lakes to New York City via Eire Canal).
Sure. And indeed that is the reason BNSF and Union Pacific have done well. But water transportation is cheaper than rail travel. So bigger ships going through the Panama Canal can make it more economical to carry freight to the East coast.
All along the East coast harbors have been renovated to handle the larger ships. Companies like Walmart put their break bulk distribution centers near those ports. That also causes foreign auto companies to build their plants in the southeast. Parts from home are easy to import and the finished autos can be shipped on special roll-on, roll-off ships for distribution internationally.
Mostly its Eastern railroads that have benefited from the Panama Canal expansion. CSX and Norfolk Southern. And of course local economies that are booming with new jobs.
Low water could slow things down. But we home incrementally rather than dramatically.
Weather patterns are shifting. We hope for more rain in the right places.
And the Nicaragua Canal makes ever more sense. Except that governance in Nicaragua makes about as much sense as a cross of Stalin’s with that of Willy Wonka’s. The sick madness of the Ortegas adds a March Hare and Mad Hatter on crystal meth Tea Party element, while the Chinese attempt to build a canal as a sort-of off-shoot of their failing Belt and Road adds a “shyte wrapped in silk” nastiness to it all.
Wouldn’t that be their “traditional values”? I remember a major earthquake occurring near Managua some decades ago. USian charities spilled forth huge amounts of money and supplies for quake relief, and the Somoza regime stole most of it. A year after being deposed, Somoza suffered sudden and severe lead poisoning from a Sandinista hit squad.
In college I was one of a group of drinking buddies with Anastasio Somoza Portocarrero,
an utterly charming monster of almost exactly my age and the heir apparent and oldest son of President “Tachito” Somoza, who died of lead poisoning. I was with him when he was arrested for high speed drunk driving on Massachusetts Av, and was quickly (like 15 minutes!) freed via means I never discovered.
He was extremely interesting to observe and hang with, and as far as I was concerned not all that different from a lot of the other rich dangerous psychologically borderline privileged guys I met in those years. Meeting and comprehending the existence of such people was a key part of the education my grannies wanted me to have. And I had it.
After the speeding incident I stayed far away from him. I am amazed he is still alive.
…because daddy paid lip service to being “a good anti-communist”. Back then, you could get away with brutally repressive policies, and the US, in it’s black and white world view, would smile on you, as long as you paid lip service to USian policies. What was the body count under the Argentine junta in the 70s? How many tens of thousands vanished, for daring to object to junta policies?