On October 14 there wasn’t a single container ship at any of the Port of Cape Town’s major terminals. On the other side of the world, as many as 60 were queuing to berth at Long Beach and Los Angeles — the busiest commercial ports in the US — where container volumes are up 40% year on year.

It’s a dichotomy that reflects the disparate pace of economic recovery in the world today. The US, and to a lesser extent northern Europe, is experiencing extreme port congestion because cash-flush consumers’ demand for goods has soared while global shipping capacity, truncated during the pandemic, has been unable to bounce back fast enough...

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