FRED Merchandise Affected by Supply Shortage

FRED, the treasure trove of economic data beloved by enthusiasts around the world, is the latest company to fall victim to supply chain shortages.

The site, produced by the St. Louis Federal Reserve, offered this t-shirt last year to mark its 30th anniversary. And it turned out so successful that it is now sell:

Why is FRED struggling to match supply with demand and blame its wares on time series enthusiasts everywhere? We looted its search function to find out what’s behind the imbalance.

For starters, there has been an increase in demand for consumer goods, such as clothing. People have been stuck at home during the pandemic, unable to spend as much to get out as they usually would. E-commerce the portals have filled a gap, allowing us to relieve boredom by ordering goods online for home delivery:

Meanwhile, pandemic-related factory closures and climate change have affected the supply of the key input for the FRED t-shirt: cotton. Here’s what happened to world prices:

Then there is the impact on logistics of this increased demand for physical goods. Manufacturers around the world are struggling to get the materials they need quickly due to factors ranging from lack of shipping containers to lack of warehouse space and workers. The result? Not only delays, but higher costs for services like trucking:

At the root of all this, of course, is the vast fiscal and monetary stimulus measures of the United States to counter the economic impact of the pandemic. Government checks boosted demand, while Federal Reserve easing kept markets buoyant and credit cheap and plentiful. Hence a renewed interest in monetary aggregates. Here is the M2 series until February 2021, when it was controversially discontinued:

Economists will be comforted to learn that the market hasn’t completely failed, however. Those of us desperate to show our affection for FRED through t-shirts can purchase a near-perfect (although perhaps not entirely legal) substitute. here.

And for others still excited about the decision to cancel M2, there’s always this.