Bullwhip Effect Ends With A Bang: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff | ZeroHedge

It was exactly a year ago, when Deutsche Bank strategist Luke Templeman said that amid the panicked scramble by US wholesalers to stock up on scarce inventory as a result of snarled supply chains, it was only a matter of time before the US economy was roiled by a “bullwhip” (or whiplash) effect.

Some details for those unfamiliar with this concept: the bullwhip effect occurs when a drop in customer demand causes retailers to under stock. In turn, wholesalers respond to a lack of retail orders by understocking themselves. That then causes manufacturers to slow production. Eventually the reverse occurs. As customer demand comes back, retailers quickly order more goods, often too much, and wholesalers and factories are caught short. Shortages occur, prices increase. Eventually production ramps up at levels that are far beyond equilibrium levels and this cascades down the chain. These violent swings in availability of goods then continue back and forth until an equilibrium is eventually established.

Last May, the beginning of the bullwhip effect was seen in the way retailers and wholesalers managed their inventory levels since the outbreak of covid. Specifically, retailers kept a supply of inventory at a relatively constant level, above that of wholesalers. As covid hit, supply chains from Asia were cut which caused a fright amongst retailers in the West who immediately began to put in orders for more inventory. A whole lot more of it. Subsequent lockdowns saw demand plummet and inventories along with it. In both cases, the actions of wholesalers followed those of retailers by a month or so.

Why does this matter? Well, for a simple but critical reason: if one year ago we saw the hyperinflationary start of the bullwhip effect, we have entered the terminal phase of the “bullwhip effect”, where plunging inventory-to-sales ratios reverse violently higher, where supply chains unclog suddenly and rapidly amid a sudden chill in the economy, and where prices for so-called “core” goods collapse almost overnight, even as non-core prices (food and energy) explode even higher.

Bullwhip Effect Ends With A Bang: Why Prices Are About To Fall Off A Cliff | ZeroHedge