The war in Ukraine is causing a shortage in one of the most important commodities in the world – neon gas. It’s essential for making microchips like the ones in your laptop, your phone, your PlayStation. Now prices are up 5,000%. As Jeff Guo from our Planet Money podcast explains, the reason has to do with the Cold War, Soviet economics and dreams of space lasers.
JEFF GUO, BYLINE: Here’s a funny thing about this neon shortage. Neon is a gas that’s literally in the air all around us. You’re breathing it right now. So any country in the world could, in theory, produce lots of neon. And yet, for a long time, most of the world’s neon has come from just two places – Ukraine and Russia.
GUO: Dick Betzendahl is an expert on the neon market. He spent decades working with producers in the former Soviet Union, and he says the Soviets built more neon harvesting facilities than anyone in the world.The war in Ukraine is disrupting the world’s supply of neon : NPR