Russian Hackers Behind SolarWinds Attack Are Targeting the Supply Chain, Microsoft Says

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The same group of Russian hackers behind the December 2020 SolarWinds attack are targeting companies in the U.S. technology supply chain, according to a Monday report released by Microsoft.

Russian hacking group Nobelium is targeting cloud infrastructure companies and information technology software resellers in an attempt to gain access to these companies’ customers, according to Microsoft’s research. Microsoft believes Nobelium to be the same group responsible for the SolarWinds hack in late 2020 that affected multiple Cabinet-level agencies, federal contractors and critical infrastructure companies.

“This recent activity is another indicator that Russia is trying to gain long-term, systematic access to a variety of points in the technology supply chain and establish a mechanism for surveilling – now or in the future – targets of interest to the Russian government,” Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president for customer security and trust, wrote in the report.

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Food Supply Shortages Hit Tucson Unified School District

As schools in Mesa face food shortages due to supply chain issues, the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is also reporting similar circumstances. 

“We are experiencing delivery delays and volume shortages for many products. For example we order 1,000 cases of an item but only receive 700 cases or delivery dates are pushed further out,” Karla Escamilla, TUSD’s Senior Coordinator of Communications & Media Relations told The Arizona Sun Times.

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Cargo Companies Warn That Vaccine Mandates Could Worsen Supply Chain Crisis

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A trade association representing all of the major cargo companies in the United States is warning that if Joe Biden actively purses more vaccine mandates, it could further disrupt an already-weakened supply chain, according to Politico.

Stephen Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association (CAA) sent a letter to the Biden Administration expressing concern over an upcoming December 8th deadline.

“We have significant concerns with the employer mandates announced on September 9th, 2021,” Alterman said, “and the ability of industry members to implement the required employee vaccinations by December 8th, 2021.”

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The U.S. Is Running Out of Warehouse Space, Intensifying Supply Chain Bottlenecks and Adding to Inflation

Man in blue polo and jeans working on a warehouse on his laptop

Available warehouse space near significant distribution hubs fell to historic lows in the third quarter of 2021, placing even more pressure on supply chain bottlenecks and increasing inflation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Demand for industrial real estate in the third quarter outpaced supply by 41 million square feet, increasing the vacancy rate to 3.6%, down 0.7% from Q3 2020 and marking the lowest level since 2002, according to data from CBRE, the WSJ reported.

Warehouses near the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports in California, some of the most important distribution points of entry in the country, reached a vacancy rate of 1% in Q3 this year, according to the WSJ. During the same quarter in 2020, the vacancy rate was 2.3%.

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Expect Inflation, Supply Shortages to Last Well into 2022, Economists Say

High inflation will last well into 2022, economists say, indicating that supply chain bottlenecks will keep increasing prices and curbing production.

Experts expect to see average inflation of 5.25% in December, slightly down from the current maximum predicted 5.4% figure, according to The Wall Street Journal. If inflation stays around its current level, Americans will experience the longest period during which inflation has stayed above 5% since 1991.

“It’s a perfect storm: supply-chain bottlenecks, tight labor markets, ultra-easy monetary and fiscal policies,” Michael Moran, Daiwa Capital Markets America’s chief economist, told the WSJ.

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Commentary: Solving the Supply Chain Problem Requires Less Government, Not More

During the latter part of the 20th Century, Americans became accustomed to hearing stories of shortages of basic items in the Soviet Union.  The metaphor of “waiting in line for bread” came to signify anything where a state-managed effort led to the inefficient and ineffective distribution of consumer goods and services.  The state-generated supply chain problems were the butt of jokes for comedians everywhere.

Well, “bread lines” have now officially arrived in America and nobody is laughing.  The middle class and the poor have especially lost their sense of humor over the supply chain disruptions that have led to shortages and higher prices being found everywhere from the grocery store shelves to the provision of medical supplies.  Nothing is funny about shelves, wallets, and medicine cabinets all emptying out simultaneously.

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Holiday Blues: Economic Challenges Threaten Season with Delays, Shortages and Price Hikes

A series of economic struggles that have grown increasingly worse this year will likely have a significant impact on the holiday season, many economic experts predict.

After President Joe Biden gave remarks from the White House this week, one reporter called out, “Will Christmas presents arrive on time, sir?” The president did not respond to that question or the flurry of others as he walked away from the podium.

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Retail Sales Beat Expectations Amid Surging Inflation

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U.S. retail sales increased in September, beating expectations amid growing inflation and supply chain disruptions, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday.

Retail sales increased 0.7% in September, beating experts’ estimates of 0.2%, according to the Census Bureau report.  The number rose 0.8%, excluding auto sales, beating the 0.5% forecast.

Sales were up 13.9% compared to September 2020, and they increased 15.6% compared to September 2020, excluding auto sales, according to the Census Bureau.

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Inflation Rises Again as COVID Recovery Slows and Supply Chains Remain in Chaos

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.4% in September, bringing the key inflation indicator’s year-over-year increase to 5.4%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Wednesday.

The year-over-year 5.4% inflation figure is an increase from August’s 5.3%, and September’s figure represents the highest year-over-year inflation increase since January 1991, according to CNBC. The 5.4% increase in the CPI is slightly above the 5.3% economists estimated.

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IMF Expects Less Economic Growth from U.S. Amid Supply Chain Chaos

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast for 2021 on Tuesday, citing supply chain disruptions and pandemic-related health concerns.

In the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook report, released Tuesday, the IMF’s economists share anticipations for global economic growth measuring 5.9% in 2021, a downgrade from their 6% projection in July.

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Groups Warn of Supply Chain System Collapse, as California Ports Face Record Backlogs

Seaport

The International Chamber of Shipping, a coalition of truck drivers, seafarers, and airline workers, recently warned heads of state at the United Nations General Assembly that if restrictive COVID policies don’t change and freedom of movement isn’t restored to transportation workers, a supply-chain collapse is imminent.

Industry leaders representing some 65 million transport workers asked the United Nations and heads of government to “take meaningful and swift action to resolve the crisis now.”

“Global supply chains are beginning to buckle as two years’ worth of strain on transport workers take their toll,” they wrote in an open letter signed by the International Air Transport Association, the International Road Transport Union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

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Construction Industry Experiences Slowdown as Labor, Supply Shortages Wreak Havoc

The construction industry is struggling to recover from the pandemic due to difficulties hiring workers and severe supply chain shortfalls, a report found.

Construction contractors project revenue to remain stagnant and below pre-pandemic levels over the next 12 months even as the economy-wide recovery continues, according to the report published Wednesday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. While the Commerce Commercial Construction Index (CCI), which the Chamber measures on a quarterly basis, ticked up one point, it remained eight points below its early 2020 figure.

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