Containers, personnel, chips: these shortages threaten to hit the economy

Health concern Philips is finding it more difficult to obtain parts for its medical devices and has noticed this in the results. Turnover and profit this year are lower than the group previously expected. And Philips is not alone in this.

Bicycle manufacturer Accell, for example, the maker of Koga and Batavus, among others, sold fewer bicycles in the second quarter because it could not get enough frames and brakes.

Potato chips

A specific problem exists for companies that need chips for their products and that applies to many manufacturers. You can’t think of it that crazy or there are chips in it. In electric toothbrushes, for example. Philips can’t buy enough chips for that, so it can make and sell fewer of those toothbrushes than it could otherwise.

The auto sector, which is so important for the economy, is a perfect example of chip shortages. Cars are full of chips and car manufacturers are not able to buy enough. Major German car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes parent Daimler have already had to reduce their production. Nor do they think that the chip shortages will be solved any time soon.

And that also affects Dutch companies that supply parts to the German car industry. If BMW or Audi build fewer cars because of the chip shortage, they will also need fewer other parts.


There are already too few sea containers. At the beginning of the corona crisis, transport to and from China, where many products and parts are made for Europe, became disrupted.

Ports closed and sea containers ended up in different places than usual. Many container ships were taken out of service. We still notice that.

In the meantime, after the corona crisis, the economy has recovered faster than previously thought and as a result, because the supply of containers did not increase as quickly, it has become more expensive to rent a container for transport to Rotterdam. In addition to the fact that it takes longer before you have ordered goods from the Far East in the Netherlands, products also become more expensive and consumers notice that.

(Auxiliary) Santa Claus will have to do some shopping earlier and you will have to pay more for stuff in Action, among others.


There is a shortage of staff not only in the hospitality industry. As a bicycle repairman, try to find someone for your workshop, or as a childcare company for employees for a group.

High gas and electricity price

Consumers and companies now pay a lot more for gas and electricity than earlier this year. Due to the threat of gas shortages, the average price for supplied gas has already risen by 15 percent this year.

‘Problem for companies and consumers’

All these shortages are a ‘serious problem’, says labor market economist Ton Wilthagen. “That applies not only to companies, but also to consumers.”

Shortages depress turnover and thus profits of companies and consumers, because of longer delivery times, they have to wait for products they want to buy, such as a bicycle or a laptop.

Products also become more expensive, because companies pass on the higher costs. “For example, building materials that have not yet become more expensive can still rise in price,” says Madeline Buijs, economist construction and real estate at ABN Amro.

Gas bill or Christmas gifts?

And if consumers think they will spend more on energy in January, will they still do as much Christmas shopping, wonders Bert Colijn, senior economist at ING Bank. The money they will soon have to spend on energy, they can’t spend on other things, he says, which means that they may buy less stuff altogether, which depresses economic growth.

For the third quarter, ING lowered its forecast for quarter-on-quarter economic growth from 1.9 percent to 1.2 percent. This is partly due to global deficits, according to Marcel Klok, senior economist at ING Bank.

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