Biden Sees Progress in Supply Crisis Amid Faster Inflation

President Joe Biden said his administration’s work has begun to alleviate supply-chain disruptions and that higher inflation is a “natural byproduct” of the global economy’s recovery from the pandemic.

The president, who’s been assailed by his political opponents over rising prices, again sought to reassure Americans that store shelves will be full for the holiday season and persuade them that his policies would build on the economy’s strong rebound.

“I can’t promise every person will get every gift they want on time. Only Santa Claus can keep that promise,” he said in a speech from the White House. But he noted that executives of large retailers have “reported that their shelves are well stocked and they are ready to meet consumer demand for the holidays.”

The president boasted of his administration’s efforts to relieve crowding at U.S. ports, where unprecedented consumer demand has led to long queues for ships and piles of containers full of goods. By prodding unions and port managers to “step up and cooperate more,” the ports have expanded operations and sped up the movement of goods, he said.

And he pointed to reports this week of accelerating prices in Europe and the U.K., in defense of his administration’s own efforts.

“This is a worldwide challenge, a natural byproduct of a world economy shut down by the pandemic as it comes back to life,” he said. “Even accounting for rising prices, the typical American family has more money in their pocket than they did last year, or the year before that.”

The U.S. consumer price index, a broad survey of inflation, increased 6.2% last month from October 2020, the fastest annual pace since 1990. Companies increasingly have passed along increased shipping and transportation costs to consumers, contributing to increasing prices.

While many economists believe the abnormal inflation is due to unprecedented consumer demand following the pandemic shutdowns, Republicans have blamed Biden and his economic policies.