The coming global economic boom could have a sting in the tail

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THE GLOBAL economy is entering unfamiliar territory. After a decade of worries about inadequate demand and spending power in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, signs of insufficient supply are now emerging. A lack of goods, services and people means that red-hot demand is increasingly met slowly or not at all. There are already signs that supply bottlenecks may lead to nasty surprises which could upset the post-pandemic recovery. Nowhere are shortages more acute than in America, where a boom is under way. Consumer spending is growing by over 10% at an annual rate, as people put to work the $2trn-plus of extra savings accumulated in the past year. More stimulus is still being doled out.

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The boom is creating two kinds of bottleneck. The first relates to supply chains. There are shortages of everything from timber to…

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