The global supply chain: It's the long process by which your shoes and your laptop were manufactured, shipped around the world, and eventually made their way to you.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was something most of us rarely thought much about. But then we had to.
In the spring of 2020 as lockdowns began worldwide, basic necessities like toilet paper began to empty off of store shelves.
Next, a range of other goods also became scarce, from cars to bikes to washing machines. While the situation has improved vastly, global shortages continue even now, sometimes impacting critical products like the at-home COVID-19 test kits.
What's the common thread that's made it so hard to buy so many things?
"Within about a month after the pandemic really went into force in the U.S. and lockdowns happened, Americans went on an unprecedented buying spree," Wall Street Journal technology columnist Christopher Mims told KCBS Radio's "In Depth" on Saturday. "So, all of the money that used to get channeled into going out, and vacations, and hospitality, it just got channeled into goods."
As he writes in his new book "Arriving Today," that massive consumer shopping spree has overwhelmed the global logistics system, resulting in logjams at ports, shortages in key components and myriad other problems.