Overview of current electronics shortage in 3 minutes


There are more and more reports about shortages in the supply of electronic components during the past year. What are the causes and should we be concerned? Will it lead to increased prices and will it last?

Let’s review the causes and what we can make of it.

Rising demand

The demand in electronics has been constantly rising for the last decades. One example is the demand for batteries, which is quite telling:

Demand for batteries in the last decades

Obviously, this means that the supply chain has to grow accordingly, which is not always a given. And electronics are not the only ones suffering from supply chain problems: plastics are also in a strange condition right now.

The “work from home” drill

One of the first reasons for the shortage is a higher demand from consumers. With the pandemic and everyone switching to remote working last year, people had to buy extra computers (at least one for every member of the family) or upgrade existing ones (think about a better camera, a better processor or graphics card to deal with the video live streams, a larger screen on your desk at home since it has become your semi-permanent office, etc.).

This sudden demand created a spike in an already congested industry, hence a shortage. The problem is that such a spike should be only temporary, but it looks like the situation is not going to be resolved anytime soon. What is going on?

Toilet Paper

Remember the toilet paper shortages? Well, that’s pretty much what is happening with the electronics industry right now. Because people started being aware of the shortage and the potential for it to become long term, they have acted exactly as they did with toilet paper. Buy more. As soon as possible. Before it is too late.

So the initial hit on the demand is also worsened by panic buying. Of course, buying an extra computer is not as easy for many people as buying toilet paper, due to the price difference. So while the effect is felt within days for toilet paper, the time frame is counted in months for electronics.

The car industry

The car industry is one of the most demanding in terms of electronics: our cars are getting stuffed more and more with those chips and gadgets, and it is getting to a point where the car industry is hit very badly by the shortage. It is currently causing very heavy losses in sales in that sector. Back to the first chart of this post above, we can see that batteries for electric-powered vehicles is mainly responsible for the demand to jump almost exponentially. Any shortage in those immediately results in slower production.

Accumulation of incidents

There have also been two major fires in the industry (one in Japan, another one in Taiwan), which have worsened the shortage, especially for memory chips.

On top of that is the winter incident in Texas, which closed chip making factories for weeks.

In an already tense supply chain, any extra incident can bring a system to its knees. And the recovery is difficult since the supply was already not sufficient.

Note that the whole world depends on Taiwan for the supply of chips, which doesn’t make it very resilient.

Source TrendForcetaiwan electronics

Pandemic supply chain disruption

As I warned a year ago on my blog at the beginning of the pandemic, Covid also disrupts supply chains since productivity is impacted – when the industries don’t close altogether. People needing to stay at home at the first sign of illness, whereas before everyone was still going to work with a running nose. And of course, wearing masks, material needing disinfection, etc.

All this obviously slows down existing systems. And again, in a “just-in-time” production mode with rising demand, this can only cause shortages.

Raw material shortage

As we all know, our planet is not infinite. With such a growth in demand, there must mathematically be a point when this never-ending growing trend goes beyond the total resources of the planet.

An abandoned mine

Along with silicon, some rare metals are getting scarce, if not already at the point of exhaustion. Other metals and rare-earth elements will follow, without any doubt. There would be a lot to talk about on this topic, but I’m keeping it short for now. Recycling those rare metals is typically a very big challenge – some of them in electronic components can actually never be recycled since it would need going to the atomic level.

And the shortage for some metals is not so far away. Just look at “other industrial metals” in the following chart, there is a chance you’ll see the shortage of some of them in your lifetime. And what then?

Shortages to come – what next? Source: Visual CapitalistShortages to come


The current shortage has many causes. Some of them may be temporary, but others will undoubtedly be felt on the long term. Hopefully, as the price of the rarest materials increase, alternative technological solutions will enable us to replace rare materials with more common ones. Or maybe we’ll find this missing Germanium or Palladium on the Moon or Mars…

Covid-19: a short summary

If you don’t want to read the full article about Covid-19 (the illness caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2), here is a digest (but you’re missing all the jokes!).

Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical doctor. I am only a computer doctor. A summary has less shades of grey than a full article so it may also be less objective.

Is Covid-19 dangerous?

Yes it is. Although 80% of infected people seem to deal with it as they would with a strong flu, a non negligible portion of sick people develop complications. In those cases, it can be fatal if not treated in a hospital. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is not yet clear. However, it is widely accepted that it is deadlier and much heavier than a common flu. We just don’t know how much more yet.

What are the symptoms?

Fever and dry cough are the most common symptoms. However, there are a range of other symptoms that can also be experienced: fatigue, muscle pain, sore throat, shortness of breath. Losing the sense of smell and/or taste as well as a loss of appetite are also very strong warning signs. However, symptoms alone cannot make a clear diagnosis. If you have a doubt, get tested if possible. The earlier you get diagnosed and treated, the better.

We still know very little from this totally new virus, but here are a couple of interesting facts:

  • the sequencing of its genome lead to interesting discoveries:
    • it attacks hemoglobin, thus preventing the circulation of oxygen in the blood, and it is this lack of blood which causes problems,
    • it can probably enter the cells using two different mechanisms,
  • it is probably infecting both human cells and a bacteria, Prevotella, known to cause septic shocks, and it is the combination of both the virus and the bacteria which causes lethal symptoms (more in the long article).

Should I rush to my doctor/hospital if I think I am sick?

NO. Don’t physically go there. We have a marvelous technology called “phones” and the virus cannot be transmitted with them. Call your doctor/hospital/healthcare hotline to avoid contaminating everyone or catching it if you actually have something else.

Is Covid-19 contagious?

It is EXTREMELY contagious, although we don’t know exactly how much. Even doctors with full gears catch it sometimes. It spreads mostly from droplets coming out of a patient’s mouth, but the virus can also survive for some time on common surfaces. It is not yet clear how long, though. This probably depends on the atmospheric conditions: cold and dry atmosphere probably results in much longer times.

The common flu generally shows its first symptoms within a day or two in infected people. In contrast, SARS-CoV-2 can “sleep” undetected in an infected person for up to 2 weeks. An infected person can actually be contagious for a period of up to 5 or 6 weeks, whereas the flu is generally contagious for a week.

If I catch it, will I be immune?

We are not 100% sure yet. In any case, you will certainly not be immune to other mutations of the virus. SARS-CoV-2 mutates, just like a flu, and natural immunity works mostly against one strain.

What should countries do?

Test your population massively. Test, test, test, test. Spot infectious clusters as soon as possible to avoid mass contagion. Systematically test anyone stepping into your country.

Healthcare systems worldwide should trial chloroquine (an anti-malarial drug that has shown very promising results against Covid-19) and azithromycin (an antibiotic which also has antiviral properties) as soon as possible. There is no time to lose. This is why testing the population for the virus is so important: these medicines are only effective if used at early stages of the illness. DO NOT TAKE ANY MEDICINE WITHOUT THE ADVICE OF A MEDICAL DOCTOR!

If the situation is getting out of control, confine the populations to avoid healthcare systems from being overrun. Get your hospitals ready for a big wave of people in critical conditions. As an Italian doctor was describing it, the uncontrolled spread is a “time bomb”.

To avoid massive economical damage in locked down areas, subsidize companies, especially small businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t have much cash flow. Take measures to help the poor who will be in even more distress than usual, if you don’t want to see an angry crowd at your door tomorrow.

What can/should you do as an individual?

If your country is not extensively testing the population, isolate and protect yourself as much as you can. If the place where you live is “at risk”, use protection gear if you can whenever you need to go out.

However, if your country has adopted the logical and sound attitude of massively testing and treating, you should be fine. Follow the directives of your local authorities.

Apply simple physical distancing measures. Avoid gathering in crowds. WASH YOUR HANDS. If you are a smoker, stop smoking. Do NOT shake hands and avoid touching your face. If at all possible, try working from home.

If you have masks, wear them (and give the extra ones to the healthcare providers if they lack masks in your area):

Protect your elders by not visiting them in person if you can to avoid contaminating them. This does not mean you should abandon them. Call them more often, they need it even more in those difficult times.

Reduce your stress levels. Use vitamins and supplements and anything that can strengthen your immune system (more important details on this in the full article).

If you are a company owner, there are many things you can do to ensure the safety of your company. Act fast.

What should I do if my country goes into lockdown?

If you live with a violent spouse, leave NOW and protect yourself by calling your local help line. Confinement will make things MUCH WORSE.

Confinement is certainly not fun. Accept the fact that you can’t do anything about it, so it is all about how you react to it. Use EFT to deal with the anxiety. 

Drink hot drinks. Exercise at home.

Who is at risk?

Everyone is at risk. Young people end up in hospitals as well. However, here are the top risk factors: old age, chronic respiratory problems, heart problems, diabetes, obesity, SMOKING.

Where did this thing come from?

Who cares for now? It is out there and we have to deal with it.

What will be the impact on economies?

Our current economic and financial models are extremely non resilient. They are built on “growth”. Without growth, it is very likely that the whole system will crumble. We will have to revisit our economic and social models. This is a crisis that will probably be remembered in the history books.

It is too early, however, to predict what will happen, even in the near future. Central Banks try to extinguish the fire. Yet, the damage is already visible and “classic” measures such as massive QEs will certainly not be enough. We will also have to rethink our whole social system. It becomes obvious that, when using pure free market strategies, the healthcare system becomes too weak to handle an emergency situation. This also goes for supply chains, which already suffer from the effects of the pandemic worldwide.

Should I stock toilet paper? Pasta? Alcohol? Is it doomsday?

It is extremely unlikely that this is doomsday. However, you should ALWAYS (even when there is no pandemic or some extreme events happening) have some non perishable food at home. Supply chains these days don’t have much stock, so any single hiccup in the system can cause shortages for short periods of time. Whenever you can, try to buy local goods rather than imported ones, you will be less likely to experience shortages.

Final note

Watch out for Governments trying to manipulate the crisis to take away some of your freedoms. Do not forget their actions when the pandemic is over. Populations under high stress are much easier to manipulate.

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