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Are historically high shipping rates causing consumer price inflation?

Before coronavirus, there was norovirus. Thousands of cruise passengers fell ill each year. “Cruises from hell” blared headlines alongside eye-catching pictures of giant ships. In fact, the vast majority of people sickened by the bug weren’t infected on cruises, but given the media spotlight, norovirus became widely known as the “cruise virus.”

Now we have more eye-catching pictures of giant ships in the news: this time, images of anchored container vessels stretching to the horizon alongside headlines about supply chain chaos, consumer price inflation and emptying store shelves.

Which raises the question: Does higher container shipping pricing actually cause inflation for U.S. consumers? And if not, will container shipping be associated with inflation anyway, given the media glare, like cruise lines with norovirus?

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