One of the most important things we've learned over the past year is the vulnerability of global supply chains. Most notably, supply disruptions of lumber have catapulted prices to the moon.
The narrative touted in the public domain is that COVID-19 sparked a dramatic underestimate in capacity by sawmills early in the pandemic as the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to zero, sparking a housing boom. The influx of demand outpaced supply and has caused lumber prices to jump 340% from a year ago, according to Random Lengths.
In terms of output, the lumber industry is controlled by just a handful of firms, including Weyerhaeuser Co., Georgia-Pacific LLC, West Fraser Timber Co., Ltd., among others, which makes it easier for capacity to be controlled.
Maybe there's more to the lumber story that we're not being told and should be investigated more in-depth by journalists.
YouTube account "Ken's Karpentry" recently published a video of "huge quantities" of lumber sitting and not in lumberyards. The exact location of the video is not mentioned but could be near Lyndonville, Vermont.
The narrator in the video, perhaps it's Ken, but we're not sure, explains that a train depot has been transformed into a makeshift lumber yard. He said train loads of lumber coming out of Canada are offloaded here and then transported by tractor-trailer to lumberyards across the country.
He said, "I am astounded by how much lumber is here, and I am wondering why there is such a problem at lumber yards." He added the facility stretches 3/8 of a mile.
The video has more than 300,000 views and over 1,300 comments in just a few weeks.
One person said, "Gee, could it be to keep the price gouging and profits up?? This whole excuse that "it's due to covid" b*llsh!t has got to stop!"
"It's too bad there are no investigative reporters left in the world. This lumber story needs to be investigated and exposed," some else said.
Another person said:
"This is what happens when a few companies own the entire market."
And this person makes an interesting point:
"There is no lumber shortage. It's just Weyerhouse and GP wanting to drive up profits."
So could the lumber industry, controlled just by a few players, be pulling the playbook straight out of the diamond industry to limit supply to drive up prices?